Green Cleaning Myths

by guest blogger Deirdre Imus, author and environmental health advocate

When a product becomes trendy or particularly appealing to consumers, manufacturers respond.

It’s why over the past few years you’ve probably noticed a proliferation of “all-natural” this, “organic” that, and “green” as far as the eye can see, whether on food packaging, cleaning product labels, clothing, or furniture.

It can be difficult—almost impossible—for the average person to make sense of it all, and to decipher what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s truly awful. After all, the terms “all-natural” and “organic” can easily refer to substances that are indeed both natural and organic—and also bad for your health.

Cleaning-product manufacturers are not required by federal law to disclose ingredients on their labels or websites, so the only way for consumers to discover what’s truly inside is to read each product’s material safety data sheet (MSDS), a federally mandated listing of ingredients provided so that workers are aware of chemical hazards in cleaning products used on the job.

It is practically pointless, however, for anyone without a working knowledge of the cleaning-products industry to read an MSDS, because the sheets are chock-full of long, complicated ingredient names that give no indication of whether a product is safe or not. You may know that ammonia is dangerous, but can you identify—or even pronounce—an ingredient called 2-butoxyethanol? But it’s in some products that are touted as “green.”

Actually, 2-butoxyethanol is a solvent that can cause eye irritation and damage red blood cells, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), one of the nation’s leading environmental health research and advocacy groups.

Such misleading nomenclature is exactly why we need a more concise, easily accessible system to help consumers make informed decisions about which cleaning products to buy and which to avoid like the plague.

Currently, you can locate healthy products by searching databases like the EWG Guide to Healthy Cleaning, or checking to see if your favorite product is recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment Program. These can be helpful, but this step is not entirely effective: Each database, listing, or guide uses different criteria to meet its unique set of standards for green validation.

Which leads me to this: How can you find the best, healthiest, and safest cleaning products to use in your home?

Here are some helpful hints about what to look for, regardless of a product’s name, labeling, or database rating:

  • All ingredients should be fully disclosed
  • Ingredients should be derived from plants and minerals
  • Product must not contain petroleum-derived or petrochemical ingredients
  • Label must stipulate the origin of fragrance and whether or not it is naturally derived
  • All ingredients should be biodegradable
  • Product should involve no animal testing and contain no animal-derived ingredients
  • Finished product must be safe for septic tanks and gray water
  • Product must not be corrosive
  • Product must not contain compounds that cause or contribute to the creation of greenhouse gases or ozone depletion
  • Product must be free of any known human carcinogens, mutagens, teratogens, and endocrine disruptors.


Deirdre Imus, founder of the site devoted to environmental health,, is president and founder of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center at Hackensack University Medical Center and cofounder/co-director of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer. She is a New York Times best-selling author and a frequent contributor to and Fox Business Channel.


Adapted from a previously published post


Related Posts:

, , ,

61 Responses to Green Cleaning Myths

  1. Henry I. Crawford May 9, 2014 at 1:22 am #

    Was Initially browsing out there . I recommend your concepts. Do announce a little more of this concept ok. Thanks for your time

  2. May R. Harned May 9, 2014 at 1:22 am #

    I really want to notify you the fact that I am novice to writing and clearly adored your website. Very likely I am likely to save your site post . You indeed have memorable article content. Be Grateful For it for sharing with us your site write-up.

  3. Ann A. Myers May 9, 2014 at 1:23 am #

    Might be practically unthinkable to come across well-informed visitors on this matter, then again you come across as like you know whatever you’re writing about! Excellent

  4. Dylan L. Eastman May 9, 2014 at 1:24 am #

    I really have to tell you in which I’m just beginner to blogging and genuinely cherished your website. Very likely I am probably to save your site post . You absolutely have stunning article content. Delight In it for giving out with us your blog page.

  5. Kathy A. Calvin May 9, 2014 at 1:24 am #

    I recognize there are a ton of junk mail on this blog website. Could you be going to clean it up. It’s Possible That I could help to implement?

  6. Clara S. Walters May 9, 2014 at 1:26 am #

    Turned Out To Be reading around . I like your material. Do announce a whole lot more of this matter ok. Thanks

  7. sixkiller September 26, 2014 at 11:28 pm #

    Thanks a lot intended for discussing this specific wonderful you you undoubtedly acknowledge what you’re really discussing roughly! Bookmarked.. learn to play guitar online I implore you to in addition take a look at my personal web site Equals). We can easily have got a url commerce plan of us

  8. BerufsunfäHigkeit October 5, 2014 at 8:08 pm #

    Servus, іch Ƅin Versicherungen Vertreter
    für ƶum beispiel еine Krankentagegeld Versicherung սnd іch
    freue mich diese Webseite entdeckt zu haben.

  9. โทรศัพท์ซัมซุง October 18, 2014 at 2:01 am #

    I do not know if it’s just me or if perhaps
    everybody else encountering issues with your
    blog. It looks like some of the written text in your posts are running off the
    screen. Can someone else please provide feedback and let me know if this is
    happening to them too? This could be a problem with my internet browser because I’ve had this happen before.

    Appreciate it

  10. p38 becm December 1, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

    Heya are using WordPress for your blog platform?
    I’m new to the blog world butt I’mtrying to get started and create
    my own. Do you need any coding expertise to make your own blog?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  11. Erwin December 26, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

    YouTube is just one of the earth’s biggest search-engines, and you ought to learn how
    to take advantage of that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *