Daily Choices

Choose Green Cleaning Products

Go green when you clean!

These days, cleaning house can be a dangerous job. Harsh cleaning ingredients like bleach can cause lung, skin and eye irritation. You have the added hazard of storing the products.  Plus the chemicals can be hazardous outside of the house as well as in.  Phosphates, for example, spur algal blooms that rob aquatic animals of oxygen.

Green cleaning products, on the other hand, often use less toxic, biodegradable, plant-based solutions. Many also come in concentrated formulas, which reduces packaging and waste. Protect your health and your family — go green when you clean!

Check the ingredients list for these items to make sure you’re using a greener cleaner:

  • No ozone-depleting substances
  • Reduced bioconcentration, or chemical buildup when consumed by animals
  • Reduced flammability
  • No or reduced added dyes, except when added for safety purposes
  • No or reduced added fragrances
  • No or reduced skin irritants, like parabens, bleach, phosphoric acid and others
  • No or reduced volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Reduced packaging
  • Recyclable packaging
  • Recycled content in packaging


Be wary of vague packaging of “green”, “environmentally friendly” or “eco-safe”.  Do your research, read the packaging and get informed.


Green cleaning products, including lemon and baking soda

Image credit: Geo-grafika/Shutterstock



EPA’s SaferChoice – look for the label on packaging.

GoodGuide scientifically ranks product for health and safety.

Good Housekeeping’s guide to the best green cleaners.

View the list of County Certified Green Businesses, including cleaning companies.

National Geographic Video: Cleaning Products – Find out how to make your own safer cleaners with common household ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, olive oil, and lemons.


Using green cleaning products creates a healthier home to live in because there are less chemicals being sprayed and released into the air. These products are safer and don’t pose the threats of irritation or chemical burns like many other cleaning products do.  Plus you create a healthier home for wildlife, as the chemicals can harm fish and other aquatic life as well as degrade water quality with excess nutrients.

Added bonus!: Making your own cleaning products from household items can save you money as well.

I’m not a scientist and I have no idea how to tell which chemical is good or bad. Is there an easier way to know if a cleaning product is green?

EPA Safer Choice labelLook for the Safer Choice label.  Previously called the Design for Life label, it signals that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency screened each ingredient for potential human health and environmental effects and that—based on currently available information, EPA predictive models, and expert judgment—the product contains only those ingredients that pose the least concern among chemicals in their class.

Product manufacturers who become Safer Choice partners have invested heavily in research, development and reformulation to ensure that their ingredients and finished product qualify for the green end of the health and environmental spectrum, while maintaining or improving product performance. You can find a list of Safer Choice products on the EPA website.


What about the “Green Seal” label? How is that different than “Safer Choice”?

Green Seal is a nonprofit third-party that develops and uses science-based standards to review and certify household products as environmentally friendly and better for consumers’ health. These standards are not developed for all types of cleaning products. You can find Green Seal-approved products in the following categories:

Green Seal logo

  • Household cleaners
  • Paper towels, napkins and tissue paper
  • Hand soaps and cleaners
  • Personal care and cosmetics
  • Cleaning services
  • Printing paper
  • Paint, stains finishes

It’s a good idea to look for the Green Seal; however, it’s a voluntary program, so not all manufacturers present their products for Green Seal certification.


Do green cleaners really work as well as conventional cleaners?

The trusted source for housekeeping information, Good Housekeeping, put over 20 green cleaners to work to see which ones stood up to tough stains and did a good job. Check out the green cleaners that passed Good Housekeeping’s test for stains, dried-on food, grease and more.

(1) Comments

  1. Michaela Johnson Nov 05, 2013

    What about insectisides? My dog has fleas and I need to bomb my house it’s so bad. The products I see in the stores are basically poisins, which means once it is applied, I will need to clean it all – inlcuding washing dishes and clothing and it will go into the water system. What else can I do?

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