Green Cleaning 101 - A Guide to a Safer Home

The truth about household cleaning products

   Most people believe that their homes are a safe haven to the polluted outside world, when in fact it is quite the contrary. According to the US EPA, levels from pollutants indoors can be two to more than 100 times higher than outdoors, and the number one cause of indoor pollution are traditional home cleaning products. Some of the most popular daily products are the most harmful and toxic. For example,  Lysol Antibacterial Spray, contains denatured ethanol (which can cause central nervous system depression) and alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride, a toxic pesticide. Many Americans assume that the household cleaning product industry is regulated, however this is largely not the case. Just because a product is labeled  “safe,” “non-toxic,” "biodegradable," "eco-friendly," "natural," or “green” does not mean that it doesn't contain hazardous ingredients. This is called "Greenwashing", and many companies are using this unethical marketing tactic.

What to look for when going "Green"

   Read labels carefully and pay special attention to warnings. Don’t buy any products labeled “poison,” “danger” or “fatal” if swallowed or inhaled. Do your own research, and make educated buying decisions. A good rule of thumb is, if you can't pronounce it, don't use it! The Environmental Working Group has compiled a list of the most harmful cleaning products consumers should avoid. EWG Cleaners Hall of Shame

Especially avoid:

  • Ammonia Toxic when inhaled, swallowed, or touched.
  • Antibacterials & Disinfectants Cause of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
  • Chlorine Bleach Corrosive and irritating to eyes, and the respiratory system.
  • Butyl Glycol, Ethylene Glycol, Monobutyl Harmful to the nervous system, liver, & kidneys.
  • Phosphates Found in most laundry and dish detergents. 
  • Petroleum Solvents Also look out for the term "Surfactant" on labels.
  • Phthalates Used in synthetic fragrances, which disrupts natural hormones.

Additional Information:

Environmental Working GroupGuide to Healthy Cleaning

Environmental Protection Agency


Next week I will share some great DIY recipes to make your very own cleaning products using simple household ingredients. Be sure to subscribe to receive weekly updates and news.


Do you have any favorite non-toxic cleaning products? Leave a comment below!