What are Eco-Friendly Cleaners vs Greenwashing ?
(and how to tell the difference)
Today we all want cleaning products that are eco-friendly to use in our home as a safer alternative to harsher cleaning chemicals. But, what is truly eco-friendly and what is just greenwashing ? (Greenwashing is vague terms or labels of eco-friendliness without standards).
Mighty Clean Home has been using eco-friendly cleaners to do all our green maid services for over 12 years. Through all our years of experience we have gained a lot of product knowledge on eco-friendly cleaners. Below we explain to you the difference between truly Eco-Friendly Cleaners and Greenwashing claims and how with one step you can tell the difference.
It is All in the Label
The easiest ways to differentiate between actual eco-friendly cleaners vs greenwashing is to compare what the product or brand is actually claiming. The government has set up standards for cleaning manufacturers. In order to have these claims on their labels they must meet and be certified by the EPA or by another recommended third party Ecolabel Company. If a green cleaning product does not have one of these certification, then it is usually just greenwashing claims.
Safer Choice Cleaners
The gold standard for cleaning products is the Designed for the Environment / DFE by the EPA. This standard is for cleaning products that have ingredients that are considered safest in class by the EPA. You can find these products by looking for the label Safer Choice on cleaning products. Brands in this category includes Clorox’s Green Works and Seventh Generation, two brands that we use for our Green Cleanings. You may look up the complete line of Brands that are deemed Safer Choice by the EPA at their website.
Along with the EPA’s Safer Choice, the EPA also recommends other third party labels that meets their standards and Ecolabel guidelines. These includes such labels as Green Seal, Green Circle Certified, USDA Certified Biobased and many more. You may find more info on these third party certification and labels at EPA’s Ecolabels recommendation page.
Other recommended claims with standards are:
USDA Certified Biobased- Products with this label ingredients must be at least 95 percent plant based.Seventh Generation products were one of the first to have this certification on their packaging .
Leaping Bunny – Products with this label means the Company has pledge that no animals were used for testing of their products. Many Safer Choice cleaning products also carry this label.
Fragrance Free- Without fragrance materials
Claims that are considered Greenwashing are as follows.
NOTE: These claims should be suspect since no standard is required for any of these labels or claims.
Earth-Friendly, Nontoxic, Natural , All Natural, Organic , and Biodegradable and many more.
Do Eco-Friendly Cleaners Actually Work ?
Today, most eco-friendly cleaners do work better for consumers than in the past. Most of these green cleaning products are more likely to be ph neutral or have a higher ph level. Cleaning products with higher ph are more of an effective cleaner. With a neutral or base level ph there is also less of a chance to cause damage to your natural stone, tile, wood floors or grout. They also have great natural plant based disinfectants that can kill as much as 99 percent of all viruses and bacteria.
In the past many green cleaners were not always as effective and often were not the right ph balance. These high level ph levels other wise known as acids could cause serious damage to your home’s surfaces . This is true with any standard home cleaning products with a high ph.
For example a very popular eco friendly cleaning product has always been white vinegar. While there is no dispute that white vinegar’s disinfectant power can match even standard harsh cleaning products, its low ph and high acidity does damage to natural stone and tile through etching and damages wood flooring by deteriorating its protective coating. We still recommend using white vinegar but only on hard surfaces that are not natural stone. You should also dilute to a ratio to 1/4 with water.
With the creation of safety and labeling standards eco-friendly cleaning products have become safer and if used correctly are just as effective as standard harsher cleaning products. It is now easier than ever to avoid products are no safer but have the greenwashing label of being “natural”
About the Author
Jim Franco has been with Mighty Clean Home for 12 years and is an expert in all things cleaning.