Green Cleaning Products

By Yani Smith

Green cleaning products refer to products that are environmentally friendly.

The main characteristics of green cleaning products is that they are biodegradable, don't contain harsh chemical compounds, and are often made from essential oils or plant extracts.

Products include green washing powder, dishwashing liquid, window and bathroom cleaners,  home discenfectant, green commercial cleaning products, car cleaners, and degreasers.

Why Green Cleaning Products?

The main goal of these products is to work in harmony with the ecosystems in which they're used.

The majority of gray water (water that goes down shower drains, from washing machines etc) eventually ends up in rivers or at sea.

Heavy chemical compounds found in conventional cleaning products can pollute the water - the natural habitat for fish, plants, and humans in summer.

This can lead to problems such as poisoning or covering fish in oily residue - the oily feeling you get when you stick your hands in washing powder suds.

What's more, some chemicals used in conventional cleaning products are non biodegradable, such as alkylphenol ethoxylate surfactants.

Being non-biodegradable, these chemicals are in the eco system permanently, where they can interfere with organisms' hormonal systems.

Green cleaning products are made with this in mind, and aim to use ingredients that have no impact, or a harmonious impact, when they reach waterways.

Other considerations of the environmental impact of cleaning products is manufacturing processes, toxins given off when used, and landfill impact.

Environmental awareness is as easy as running through a quick checklist in your head, e.g does the manufacture of a product require a lot of energy-intensive processes such as multiple chemical treatments, or does manufacture create toxic by-products or waste? Is packaging minimized, or able to be cleaned and recycled? If not, is the bottle biodegradable, and how big will the chemical effect be in the landfill? There’s no need to feel guilty if all the boxes aren’t ticked, but awareness is the first step to fitting green choices into your life.

Common ingredients found in green cleaning products include:

  •   tea tree oil
  •   coconut oil
  •   jojoba
  •   aloe vera
  •   vanilla extract
  •   rosemary extract

Why Buy Green Cleaning Products?

The fact that green cleaning products generally don’t contain toxic and harsh chemicals has another benefit - they’re hypoallergenic.

Being hypoallergenic means a product is less likely to cause conditions such as asthma, skin damage, and headaches that conventional cleaners can bring on.

A particular area where this is becoming utilized is in hospitals. Hospitals obviously accomodate alot of people with all types of allergies. Using hypoallergenic green cleaning products reduces the risk of allergic complications for patients and aids a comfortable stay.

It's All About Quantity,... And Quality

Another thing to remember when thinking about green cleaning products is quantity - particularly when using detergents or washing powder.

Today, many cleaning products are generic and made for a global or national market.

The problem with this is that water-type is not the same in every city - some cities have dirty water with alot of chlorine, some cities have reasonably clean water with minimal chlorine, other cities like Christchurch New Zealand have 100% pure water with no chlorine.

The amount of washing powder required depends on how "heavy" your water is, but the recommended amounts are measured on a worst-case, or heaviest-water, scenario.

So try cutting back the amount of detergent you use - if your clothes come out clean, it's working.

When purchasing green cleaning products look for certification of the environmentally friendliness of the ingredients and sustainability of the company practice. Look for certification  and awards from reliable green industry groups, and product websites that explain the reasons for individual ingredients contained in their products.

First published January 10, 2012
Last updated February 4, 2021

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One comment on “Green Cleaning Products”

  1. I'll start with the cons, too many are not as eco friendly as they claim. In the US clenaing products aren't required to put ingredients on the label and there are no regulations for natural or non toxic etc. There are a lot of companies that slap a new label on an old product increase the price and call it green. Others do things like install solar panels on the factory or switch to a recycled plastic for the disposable bottle etc.We need to learn what makes a a product green. The pros are most can save you money, conserve energy or other resources and reduce your exposure to toxins. I have made many changes in my life to live a more sustainable existence and reduce toxins. Many changes have saved money. I also look at long term benefit if I have to make a change that may cost more or take an investment. I save money with clenaing products by switching to castile soap, vinegar and baking soda for my primary clenaing supplies. Castile soap cost more than liquid hand or dish soap, but when combined with the savings of not paying for items like windex, 409 and comet I save money over all, reduce my exposure to harmful chemicals, and throw away much less packaging. That is just one of many examples. I focus on reducing my waste and save money because I'm not throwing away unused items, buying on impulse or paying for excessive packaging.

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