Confused about cleaning product labels? You’re not alone. Just in time for spring cleaning, this info from the Environmental Working Group will help you sort out what you should look for (and avoid) to get your house sparkling clean.
Usually antimicrobial pesticides to kill bacteria, viruses or molds. They’re hazardous chemicals, and you rarely need them.
Can cause serious chemical burns to the skin, eyes or lungs. Avoid these products, and keep them far from children’s reach.
Often a chemical cocktail that may consist of dozens of substances for which there is limited safety data. Choose products free of unnecessary, undisclosed ingredients.
Green Seal / EcoLogo
Provide independent, third party certification of environmentally friendly cleaners. EWG recommends these third-party certified products—their standards are the best out there today.
Makes fabrics appear brighter. Can cause skin irritation.
Keeps other ingredients mixed in a solution. Solvents can also be used as specialized cleaners for tough soils and stains. Water is a non-toxic solvent—many others are flammable.
Loosens dirt and grease from surfaces so that they can be washed away. Essential for cleaning, but some are safer than others. Some are toxic to aquatic life and decompose very slowly.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
Often abbreviated “VOCs,” volatile organic compounds are air contaminants that form smog. Use no- or low-VOC cleaning
supplies whenever possible.