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Buying Green Cleaning Products

Look for the EPA DfE Label for Environmentally-Friendly Products

Copyright © 2013 Sharon Freeman; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without written permission.


The EPA DfE logo; photo courtesy Environmental Protection Agency

Traditionally, the things we keep inside our closet are a toxic hodgepodge of chemically synthesized cleaning products. These products help us keep our floorboards clean and daisy fresh.

Despite being effective, a good number of these toxic cleaners are active indoor air pollutants. For this very reason, greener alternatives to these traditional cleaning commodities are quickly gaining popularity in the market.

These green cleaners are prepared with ecologically friendly ingredients designed to improve both human health and environmental conditions. In choosing green cleaners, people can...

  • promote positive environmental attributes such as biodegradability, low volatile organic compound (VOC) content, low toxicity, low life cycle energy use and reduced packaging.
  • improve indoor air quality in their homes.
  • reduce ambient air and water pollution.
  • reduce exposure to toxic chemicals which lessens the harmful health impacts to occupants.
  • require no specialized storage due to their non or less toxic nature.

With the increasing popularity of green cleaners, we might as well look into our purchasing decisions. We should ask the following questions—How do we choose our green cleaning products? What are the best and the greenest cleaning products in the market?

The EPA Offers Some Cleaning Product Tips

Although there is no one definitive answer for these questions, the EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) came up with 5 principles that help us consumers in our purchasing inquiries. They also allow the use of their Design for the Environment logo on products that meet their basic requirements (see image above).

  1. The product should include environmental factors with the traditional considerations of price and performance as part of the normal purchasing process.
  2. The item should emphasize pollution prevention early in the purchasing process.
  3. Consumers must examine multiple environmental attributes throughout a product’s or service’s life cycle.
  4. Consumers should compare relative environmental impacts when selecting products and services.
  5. Buyers are encouraged to collect and base purchasing decisions on accurate and meaningful information about environmental performance.

Beware of Environmental Catch-Phrases

Purchasers should also be wary of generic products that advertise with false claims. Terms such eco-friendly, environmentally friendly, and environmentally safe are often used by manufacturers to jump onto the green bandwagon with no credibility and dishonesty.

A product might feel sketchy for a reason. If it does, then an inquiry addressed to the vendors and manufacturers is always warranted. Rather than buying into these generic labels, here are few things you might want to look for in your next purchase:

  • Minimizes exposure to concentrates
  • No ozone depleting substances
  • Recyclable packaging
  • Recycled-content in packaging
  • Reduced bioconcentration factor
  • Reduced flammability
  • Reduced or no added dyes, except when added for safety purposes
  • Reduced or no added fragrances
  • Reduced or no skin irritants
  • Reduced or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Reduced packaging

When buying green cleaning products, it is also important to know that tradeoffs are inevitable. While one product can be less toxic (a preferable characteristic), another product can be made from renewable resources (another preferable characteristic).

It is always a good idea for buyers to examine carefully as many relevant products and attributes as possible to make an informed choice about products and their use.

Do you have any lessons learned or tips on this topic? Why not share with other readers in the comment section below?

About the Author:

Sharon Freeman profile picture; photo courtesy Sharon Freeman Sharon Freeman is a professional freelancer who writes and about green living, cleaning services and reviews companies such as

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