Cleaning is an activity exposing many of us to all sorts of nasty chemicals that can be harmful to ourselves and the environment.
A new guide from Earth Working Group ( EWG) guide looks at more than 2,000 household cleaners and grades them A to F based on the safety of their ingredients and the information they disclose about their contents.
According to EWG, around 53 percent of cleaning products they assessed contain ingredients known to harm the lungs.
Among a multitude of issues, carcinogenic formaldehyde was also detected in some cleaning products.
Even “green” household cleaners raised EWG’s ire when some brands examined did not disclose ingredients adequately. Overall, just seven percent of cleaning products adequately disclosed their contents.
I remember having a conversation a few years back with a well known company who wanted to promote their cleaning products on GLT. I questioned them on this issue as some of their ingredients were covered by generic terminology and they stated it was because they wanted to protect trade secrets. In those situations, it becomes a matter of trust.
Something I wasn’t aware of that I learned through EWG’s guide is that Sodium borate, also known as borax, and boric acid can reportedly disrupt hormonal systems; so I think I’m going to need to review the article I wrote on that substance as I was under the impression it was fairly safe if used properly.
While borax is a naturally occurring substance, natural doesn’t mean harmless. On the flip side, “the dose makes the poison”. Trivia – that saying is attributed to Philippus von Hohenheim, aka Paracelsus, who lived around 500 years go.
As regular readers probably know, I was a cleaning product junkie until I started to become aware of the environmental impact of my use of cleaning chemicals. Some I reduced my use of and others I stopped using altogether.
I’ve also discovered at times we really don’t need to use special cleaning products at all.
For example, my bathroom has charcoal colored floor tiles – why that color was chosen I’ll never know. I tried green and not-so green products on the floor and whatever I used left streaks. The solution to this issue was very, very simple – just use hot water in the mop bucket and nothing else. It doesn’t get much greener than that (except for maybe cold water).
For other cleaning applications and if you would prefer to avoid commercial products altogether, I have a very popular multi-purpose green cleaner recipe on the site that was contributed by a GLT reader – it’s quick, cheap and easy to make and works very well – except on charcoal colored floor tiles it seems ;).