15 August 2023
After the cleaning frenzy during Covid, we are still very conscious of keeping our areas in good shape. Especially if you have small children or someone with sensitivities to certain chemicals or scents, you want to use the best products possible. However, it can be confusing when you read labels like eco-friendly, all natural (remember that water is “natural”), and organic.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) can certify which products may be considered organic, but there are still many that make those claims, as well as quite a few that are still good for the planet but do not make any assertions. Most products that state they are “clean” or “plant based” will use safe ingredients, but only those that have been certified by the USDA may use that claim in print. Using words like “natural” or “plant based” means they have at least some ingredients that cover that claim, but not necessarily all of the components are such. Read the entire litany on the label to be sure of what you are buying.
Brands that are also considered safe contain various elements, some common household products, like:
- baking soda
- lemon juice
- vegetable glycerin
- citric acid
- castile soap
The other side of the coin is the experts suggesting that you avoid:
- petroleum solvents
- butyl glycol
- alkylphenol surfactants
- synthetic dyes or fragrances
If you do a little research, the EPA offers a Safer Choice option at https://www.epa.gov/saferchoice.
While not all products carry the certification as organic, many are made with no synthetics and are a good option at a somewhat lower price point. Organics are just as effective at cleaning as non-organics but they may not be a disinfectant. Check the label carefully to be sure you are buying what you need. So, while most organics are fine to remove general dirt and yuck, they may not be preferred for fighting bacteria, germs, and Covid. The EPA puts out another list, https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/about-list-n-disinfectants-coronavirus-covid-19-0, that will give you a good idea what will work.
The EPA also advises that there are risks associated with non “green” cleaning products. These can include:
- Volatile organic compounds (VOC) that impact the air quality inside and outside the home.
- Some products can irritate the eyes or skin.
- Pollution from disposing unused portions.
Warning signs include:
- breathing issues like asthma
- irritation in the eyes or throat.
Other words to be aware of are: nontoxic, biodegradable, and free of dyes or fragrances. This will not necessarily ensure that you are getting an organic or green cleanser. It is important that you educate yourself on the good and bad statements on the labels and make your purchases accordingly. In this way we can help keep our areas clean and still feel safer about using these cleaning elements around children, pets, and those with health issues.