A 20-year Norwegian study, published in 2018, found that long-term, regular use of conventional cleaning products can harm your lungs—it can be as damaging as smoking 20 cigarettes a day. Making the switch to eco-friendly cleaning products can help you breathe a little easier.
What ingredients should you watch out for?
Potentially sourced from petrochemicals, there’s a chance that synthetic dyes may have small amounts of heavy metals in them (such as lead or arsenic).
Found in antibacterial products, triclosan can disrupt hormone regulation in animals and could pose a threat to your immune system.
A corrosive substance, bleach can irritate your eyes and burn skin. If bleach comes in contact with ammonia, a toxic gas may be produced.
A popular ingredient in glass cleaner, ammonia can irritate your respiratory system and eyes.
What about sodium lauryl sulfate?
Depending on who you ask about sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) you’ll get two completely different answers. One side says that the biodegradable, synthetic surfactant (a foaming agent that helps wash away dirt and oil) is harmless. Companies such as Seventh Generation, Lush and Dr. Bronners use it in their products. However, the David Suzuki Foundation cited a study from the World Health Organization that finds SLS to be “a skin, eye and respiratory tract irritant and toxic to aquatic organisms.” In the middle of the debate is the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit that focuses on protecting human health and the environment. The EWG rates SLS as a low-concern ingredient.
What not to put on your granite countertop
Just because a product is labelled “eco-friendly,” or “green” doesn’t mean it won’t do a number on your granite countertops. Granite is naturally porous and should never be cleaned with anything acidic (like vinegar). When you’re shopping for a surface spray, read the product packaging carefully and look for a product that specifies which types of surfaces it’s safe to use on.
Sapadilla Grapefruit + Bergamot Countertop Cleanser
Derived from coconut oil, coco glucoside is the primary surfactant in this surface spray—the heavenly smell comes from a blend of five essential oils (grapefruit, bergamot, lemon, litsea cubeba and sweet orange).
Attitude All Purpose Eco-Cleaner
Plant-based surfactants (caprylyl glucoside and myristyl glucoside) deliver this surface spray’s cleaning power. The fresh smell of the spray comes from citrus and sweet fruit (terpineol, decanal and allyl caproate).
Ecover Dish Soap
Biodegradable and safe to use on your beeswax food wraps, the coconut oil-derived surfactant in this dish soap is sodium lauryl sulfate.
Aspen Clean Natural Glass Cleaner
Coconut oil-derived surfactants (decyl glucoside and coco glucoside) are the active cleaning agents in this glass cleaner. Additionally, white wine vinegar repels dust and lime oil adds a subtle smell.
Aunt Fannie’s Glass & Window Vinegar Wash
No surprises here, distilled white vinegar does the heavy lifting and essential oils (rosemary, lavender, eucalyptus, orange and peppermint) add a pleasant scent.
Seventh Generation Toilet Bowl Cleaner
The primary cleaning agent in this plant-based toilet bowl cleaner is caprylyl/myristyl glucoside, a sugar-based surfactant.
Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds
This hardworking, non-soap, biodegradable cleaning product gets its grease-fighting power from coconut-based sodium lauryl sulfate and its intoxicating aroma from fir and spruce essential oils.
Marseille Soap Cube
This sturdy cube is made from only five ingredients (sodium olivate, aqua, sodium chloride, glycerin and sodium hydroxide). Its primary cleaning agent is derived from olives.
Truce Wood Cleaner
This concentrate comes in a refillable bottle (to cut down on packaging) and is safe for wood floors, countertops and furniture.