How Green is Your Clean?

cleaning products

How green is your clean?

Is someone decorating Easter eggs or is that your green cleaner?

You know what I’m taking about, right? It’s the green cleaning combo of baking soda and white vinegar.

Why green cleaners? If you’re like me, you’ve been trying to overhaul your cleaning products so that they are less harmful to your household as well as the environment.

What I’ve noticed as I get rid of each spray & wipe cleaner and replace it with an earth-friendly variety, it takes more elbow grease and time to use, so I remind myself that it costs less and I’m burning calories as I reduce global toxins. (Yup, I like to think big – keeps me motivated.)

USA Today’s Green Living magazine puts baking soda and vinegar in the lineup of green cleaning essentials: baking soda (great for scrubbing bathtubs and deodorizing carpets), lemon juice, white vinegar, club soda and borax (sounds like the 1950’s, right?). Progress has made cleaning faster and more toxic. Seems like we should just revert back to the Mad Men era, right?

Rate Your Cleaners
Maybe. There are a lot of so-called green cleaners on the market that try to bridge the gap (fast-working/less toxic). Are you curious how green your cleaners really are? I am. Let’s use Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) Guide to Healthy Cleaning Guide and see how my current store-bought cleaning products stack up. Maybe you use some of the same cleaners, if not, just peruse their guide to see how your cleaners rate.




  • Murphy Oil Soap – I thought this would fair better. Get’s a C.
  • Mop & Glow (I used to use Bona, but it just didn’t work!) Ok. I kind of expected this one to fail ‘cause it leaves my floors nice and shiny and a little water-resistant. It got an F.
  • Bona mop with washable terry cloths.

I’m a little disheartened after getting my cleaning-product report card. I hope your cleaning products did a bit better. Good to know though. I’m going to go through EWG’s website and pick out some products at the front of the class to replace my C-F store-bought cleaners.

Stop Dirt in Its Tracks!
Of course, I try to prevent dirt from coming into the house. This is a neat trick I learned since moving to the Northwest where there is a six-month mud season. People take their shoes off upon entering a home. Seems simple enough, but I was horrified at first as few people offer surrogate indoor shoes. (EcoExpert does a great job of discussing this very topic.)  Now, years later, like many NWers I take slippers or indoor shoes with me so my feet stay toasty without tracking in dirt.

Follow Up
Here are some general things to keep in mind when considering a cleaner, from Green Living magazine:

  • Look for products with a USDA organic seal.
  • Avoid products that instruct you to open windows or use ventilation during use, which is an indication that toxic chemicals are being released.
  • Avoid petroleum-based products and dish washing detergents with phosphates, which are not earth-friendly.


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5 Responses to How Green is Your Clean?

  1. First, thanks very much for the mention – it’s appreciated!
    That EWG guide is very useful (although where I live, a lot of the available products are not listed by EWG, so I have to do the legwork myself – not easy) but I use it a lot. And I agree, product names are full of “greenwash”.
    No shoes in the house was a new thing for me but it’s mercifully easy in a hot climate. It’s a great idea to bring footwear with you!

    • Jane says:

      Hey Clare,
      Thanks for the comment. Clearly, I need to do a little more research (see Diana’s comment) – it’s a topic worthy of more time though. Don’t you think? We all grab cleaning products for their ease of use, but maybe we should all be using baking soda, vinegar, lemon and club soda in various combinations?

  2. Truly educated naturals enthusiast says:

    Hi there,

    Unfortunately, it’s clear that you haven’t done your homework–or even analyzed the surprising list of products APPROVED by the EWG versus those that were not. For example, how is it possible that OXY CLEAN of all products received an A grade, while companies with the highest eco-scale rating by Whole Foods’ rigorous review receives Cs, Ds and Fs! MONEY, that’s how. Like most groups here in the US, the EWG runs on money, and hands out approvals accordingly. Now, I am sure you care about the growth, innovation and standard-raising of the natural products industry–and natural products companies, moreover–and I, sharing in that, applaud your mission. But PLEASE educate yourself. Be discerning, at base, so your voice is used NOT to perpetuate bad information, but to bring to the fore smart interrogation when and where it’s needed most. Thank you.