Green cleaning products are often heralded as better, safer alternatives to standard cleaning products that can contain harmful chemicals and toxins. However, not all green cleaning products are all that they are cracked up to be.
What Is Green Cleaning?
Those who advocate for the use of green cleaning products claim that standard cleaners often contain chlorine, fragrance additives, neurotoxins, and various other chemicals. These chemicals can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs. Advocates of green cleaning claim that using green cleaning products will improve your health and also help the environment by reducing pollution and toxicity.
Is Green Cleaning Really Green?
The problem is that there are no regulations that say what can and cannot be labelled as a “green cleaning product.” When a cleaning product claims to be green, it can mean many things, and having no toxic ingredients isn’t necessarily one of them. A “green” product can be just as toxic as a standard cleaner and claim to be green because they are using recycled plastic or less water. There are no regulations on labels such as “natural” or “non-toxic.”
In addition, even if a product is labelled as “non-toxic,” that doesn’t mean that there are actually no harmful toxins in the product. One study found that fragranced “green” cleaning products actually contained virtually the same levels of volatile organic compounds as standard cleaning products. Another researcher found that green cleaning products sometimes contain phthalates, which lead to respiratory problems and reproductive issues in boys, despite not listing them on the label. These phthalates were not usually found in traditional cleaners.
Manufacturers often decide for themselves which ingredients they will and will not include in a “green” product. Instead of relying on a “green” or “non-toxic” label, it is better to look for seals such as the Safer Choice seal from the EPA or the Green Seal. These seals show that the product has met certain health standards. Homemade cleaning products such as white vinegar with essential oils or baking soda will always be the safest cleaning solutions.
Besides looking for seals and certifications, you may want to avoid cleaning products that contain artificial fragrances, chlorine, artificial colours, and phosphates.
Do Green Cleaning Products Work?
Green cleaning products are generally effective at cleaning things. However, not all of them are created equal. According to AARP, the Clorox Green Works cleaner does remove dirt — but it doesn’t disinfect surfaces and clean germs. On the other hand, plain white vinegar is effective at killing bacteria. Green cleaning products also might require more time and effort to clean as effectively as traditional cleaning products that contain chlorine.
Pros and Cons of Going Green
Using green products can potentially shield you from health risks that come with using traditional cleaners. They can also reduce your environmental footprint if they are made with less water. However, as stressed before, not all green cleaners are actually less harmful. In addition, with some, you may simply be trading some health risks for new risks. As such, it is important to exercise caution and choose green cleaning products wisely.
Disadvantages of going green are that green cleaning products are often more expensive and may be less effective, depending on which product you are using. Nevertheless, if a product is truly safer and is effective, going green is usually worth the extra cost.
If you are interested in exploring environmentally-friendly cleaning options for your office or commercial business, we can help. We are ISO 14001 accredited and comply with all environmental legislation to reduce pollution, use less energy, and have less of an impact on the environment.