Cleaning products labeled “natural,” “nontoxic,” or “green” are touted as safer than conventional cleaners. But not all such products deserve a clean bill of health.
So-called green cleaning products have become increasingly popular in recent years as concerns have grown about the effects of household cleaners on the environment and our health. But despite those claims, not all green products deserve a clean bill of health.
It’s often hard to know what’s in conventional cleaning products because many manufacturers don’t disclose the ingredients and generally aren’t required to.
Instead what you typically find are vague descriptors such as “cleaning agents,” “dye,” or “fragrance.”
Though there’s no ironclad evidence that cleaning products are toxic if used as directed, there’s also no proof that they’re completely safe.
Scientists have done too little independent research and have too little knowledge of what’s in them to be sure either way.
What we do know is that household cleaners can contribute to indoor air pollution, and they’ve been linked to asthma and other respiratory problems in certain people.
Products labeled “green,” “natural,” or “nontoxic” also frequently don’t list what’s in them, and tests have shown some to contain potentially harmful ingredients.
For example, a study of six green air fresheners found that all emitted chemicals classified as toxic or hazardous.
When you use cleaning products, whether green or conventional, make sure you ventilate the area well by running an exhaust fan or opening a window. Use as little as possible, and never mix products.
Better yet, try making your own cleaners. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a few simple ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar and lemons, along with a little elbow grease.