Whenever you hit the aisle of your local store, you’re faced with a billion options for cleaning products. Of course, there are the old standby names like Comet and Mr. Clean, but some new forms of cleaners have been popping up on shelves, too. Products that cite being formulated with less harsh chemicals and additives can still be harmful to the environment.
There’s lots of evidence to suggest that many of the chemicals used in cleaning products are harmful to both the environment and the people using them.
And many of those harsh chemicals find their way into our waterways and oceans, where those chemicals leak into water systems, affecting the water itself, but also the animals who live there too. Many of those cleaning products are chock full of harmful chemicals, that if ingested or get on our skin, could do actual harm, and we have them sitting under our sinks.
The options are endless when it comes to natural cleaning supplies
After a long year of sanitizing everything with bleaches and disinfectants, getting used to that clinical chemical smell on everything, including ourselves, seeing products that promise to be better for the environment sounds just about wonderful. But do these kinds of cleaning products work?
Safe cleaning products aren’t a fad. People care more than ever about the effects of using products that won’t affect themselves or the earth with harmful chemicals.
The short answer for natural cleaning products is yes, they work. And in some cases, they work better than their chemically driven traditional counterparts. What’s important to note is that people need to be aware of what they’re using to clean with rather than blindly accept that the cleaning mixture gets the job done. That’s not enough, and indeed so if you care about impact. It comes down to research on what you need and what you think is adequate for your cleaning needs when choosing the right safe cleaning products with natural ingredients.
A common rule to think about with cleaning products is “if it foams, it cleans.”
Anything that foams are creating micelles (bubbles.) Micelles trap nonpolar particles so that they can then be rinsed away. It’s the molecules working naturally to dissolve a greasy countertop, not the ingredients, so in many cases, that’s why the tried-and-true method of using baking soda and vinegar is so effective.
The importance of reading natural cleaning supply labels
The natural product craze started back in the 1970s, and what’s emerged since has come a long way. Everything now is safer and designed with the intent that nothing is harmful for the earth. The term “green” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, but what does it mean if the expectation is that it’s safe and gentle for humans, it’s sustainable for the environment. The term “natural” can mean a lot of things, too. It’s not a registered term, so a company can put a few drops of lavender oil into toxic waste and sell it as “natural” . What’s important is to look at labels.
When looking at a label, it’s essential to look for specific words like:
- Free of…
- Zero chemicals
These words do fall under the umbrella of “natural,” but they’re much more dialed in and applicable to living up to their claims. There’s even a “Green Guide” set up by The Federal Trade Commission, so brands that market themselves as any of the above have guidelines to follow. Keep an eye out for third-party certifications; these help determine whether a product is natural, nontoxic, or cruelty-free. Certifications signify that a product has been tested and meets industry standards for chemicals used, environmental impact, and packaging sustainability.
Some of the credentials you should keep an eye out for are Leaping Bunny, which ensures nothing was used on animals, and EcoLogo, which promises low environmental impact, safer chemicals, and recyclable materials. And there’s the Green Seal, which is for harmful chemicals, and sustainable packaging.
When you’re looking at products, read labels. If you see words like diethanolamine, formaldehyde, sulfuric acid, 1,4-dioxane, or boric acid, these kinds of products are not what you’re looking for to clean the house. If you can’t pronounce it, it’s probably not a good idea to use the product. Remember, do your homework. Labels can throw a consumer off, but ultimately, the consumer has the power of the dollar to buy what they feel is what’s best for their family and the environment.