“Green” cleaners: Harmful or helpful?

Posted on April 14th, 2010 by Enovana Green Cleaning

Common sense is required while shopping in the green marketplace. Joe McCutcheon, owner of Triangle Green Cleaners, said a salesperson recently offered him samples of environmentally friendly, newly GreenSeal-certified cleaners. When he received the cleaners, he realized they were brightly colored and the bottle was covered in chemical warnings. The added dyes were a warning flag for him; he asks, “What plant is pink that you put in here to make this product?”

There are also times when it is impossible to find a certified green product. There are no regulations regarding powdered scrubs, for instance, but McCutcheon recommends traditional products like Bon-Ami. He explains there’s little fragrance, and the ingredients listed are little more than chalk and sand. His company also goes through gallons of vinegar every day. While he strives to use only certified green products, vinegar is an exception. “It’s not Green Seal certified,” says McCutcheon, “but it’s vinegar. You put it in your salad dressings, you can eat it.”

In the case of disinfectants, the Environmental Protection Agency regulates its labeling, to insure that they do disinfect. At this time, the E.P.A. prohibits any disinfectant from displaying or indicating it has a green certification. In the future, the Design for the Environment certification may be expanded to include disinfectants, but has not been made public. Instead, McCutcheon says many parents choose not to use antimicrobial disinfectants around their children, to avoid any possible dangers.

Cataloging each and every component of cleaners is the ultimate goal of the Household Products Labeling Act. But until it or a similar requirement, is law, the consumer is left to do most fact-checking. “Having someone sanction it, like Green Seal, is good, but you still gotta do your own research,” says McCutcheon. His recommendation is to stick with traditional products, limit disinfectant use and rely on elbow grease, not strong cleaners, to get a clean house.

~ This article was written by Keeley Marin Stevens and can be found on the Indyweek website here.