Healthier, Less Toxic Cleaning

By Blake Van Jacobs

As we move into a time where we are cleaning as much as we can, how do we know what products are environmentally friendly and safe for our health? Cleaning products are not always regulated but there are a couple of certifications to look for when shopping for natural cleaners. These certifications set environmental and human health standards, as well as performance standards.

Green Seal  sets criteria for toxicity limits, indoor air quality, chemicals of concern, waste reduction, manufacturing processes, and water and energy use. Green Seal also sets strict performance standards for the cleaning products they certify. Specifically, general purpose cleaners must kill 80% of the particulate soil and bathroom cleaners must kill 75% of the particulate soil in the American Society for Testing and Materials. Green Seal is one of the most trusted standards when it comes to natural cleaning products that are a better option than other more toxic cleaning products.

The second certification is from Underwriters Laboratories (UL) EcoLogo Certification. This criteria includes materials, product performance, human and environmental health impacts, waste diversion, and natural resource conservation. These certifications will indicate which cleaners will disinfect properly, in addition to being safe for the environment and your home.

Besides reviewing the labels that certify the cleaners, avoid products that have labels saying warning, poison, flammable, or corrosive. Also, try to refrain from purchasing aerosol cans, these produce volatile organic compounds which creates an unhealthy gas that makes indoor air quality worse.

Homemade cleaners are effective and can save you money, while being less toxic than traditional cleaners.  For bathroom surfaces, countertops and cutting boards, use a 10% vinegar/90% hot water mixture to remove germs, mold, and dirt. For toilets and bathtubs, you can scrub the fixtures using baking soda , while vinegar works great on mirrors.  Worried about COVID-19?  Don’t forget about good ‘ole soapy water.  The soap/detergent destroys the outside of the virus and kills it.  It’s cheaper for you and less harmful than bleach and other cleaners.  These homemade cleaners are natural, easy to use, and will get surfaces cleaned and sanitized.  LiveGreen has also tested several specific cleaners to make sure they are effective, and those recipes can be found here.

Have a favorite homemade cleaner?  Send your recipe to LiveGreenNebraska@unmc.edu and we’ll add it to the list for others to try.

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