Not everyone wants to make their own cleaners for their home, even when it’s as simple as baking soda and vinegar for many jobs. Some prefer to buy cleaner that have been made for them. The hard part is getting past the claims and finding products that are more environmentally friendly and safer for your family.
What do you look for?
There area few clues, and labels proclaiming that the product is “all natural,” “green” and so forth really aren’t it. Too many of these claims are not regulated and are in fact meaningless.
Clearly Marked Ingredients
The ingredients in general should be clearly marked. There are a lot of ingredients to look out for, such as anything derived from petroleum. There are a lot of ways these can be listed, such as mineral oil, propylene glycol, isopropyl alcohol, parabens, and many synthetic fragrances.
If you don’t know what’s in the cleaner, you don’t know what you’re using. A partial list isn’t enough.
Calling a product chemical free is misleading. While most of us would assume they mean dangerous chemicals, the simple truth is that nothing in this world is chemical free. Water is a chemical, for example. So is baking soda. Don’t let a label mislead you with this term.
Good Terms to See on the Label
There are several terms you do want to see on the labels of cleaning products. These include phosphate free, ammonia free, plant based, biodegradable, chlorine free, certified USDA organic, solvent free, fragrance free, and dye or artificial color free.
Terms to Beware of
Some terms are there specifically to tell you that the product is dangerous to ingest or get on your skin. Even some natural products can have problems, such as essential oils that are better for you when diluted into a carrier oil. Natural does not equal safe, after all.
Poison and danger are the strongest terms. These are the products you most want to avoid, and doubly so want to keep away from your children.
Next come caution and warning. These have hazards, but not as bad as those labeled poison or danger. Still not thing you want to have around your home when you can avoid them.
Finally, if the package tells you to wear gloves or use in a well ventilated space, pay attention. These are hard on your skin or can make breathing difficult. They certainly aren’t healthy for you to have significant contact with.
You can’t avoid packaging, even if you make your own cleaning supplies. But you can do your best to buy cleaning products in packages that can be reused, refilled or recycled. Reusable and refillable are of course the best.
Many genuinely eco friendly companies try hard to have refillable containers. It’s a part of their work to be kinder to the planet. Non-eco friendly companies can do this as well, so it’s not a real indicator.
Refills should be in either larger containers or in a concentrated form so that they use less packaging than the original container. Ideally these containers should also be recyclable, although the lack of available recycling facilities is a reality many of us have to deal with.
Generally Good Brands
While I can’t promise that every product offered by these companies will be good, these companies tend to sell cleaning products that are more eco friendly than others you will see on store shelves.