On Sept. 20, hundreds of Houston students rallied with thousands of others across the globe to demand more serious action be taken against climate change. In Houston, students headed to city hall.
One high school student at the rally told Houston Public Radio, “Imelda is a very good example of what’s been going on to our planet, how we need to do something and to change and stop this from happening in the future,” she said. “Because if we don’t stop it’ll happen more often.”
More and more, climate change is becoming one of the most important voting issues. Hundreds of scientific studies have shown that a warming planet will have catastrophic effects on everything from drinking water to food supply to air quality.
At Advanced Pro Services, we’re always looking for ways to cut down on our environmental impact, and one of the easiest things for us to do has been to switch to green cleaning products. Not only are the ingredients simple and nontoxic, but the companies who make these products consider all aspects of the environment, which means they use less packaging and recycled materials.
But finding the right green cleaning products isn’t always easy, and there are a lot of myths surrounding what is and what isn’t a true green cleaning prioduct. Consumers need to be able to cut through the jargon and find products that will clean their homes without harming the environment.
We’re here to help. Here are our top picks for the best low-impact, green cleaning products and how to get past the marketing lingo to find true green cleaning products.
Myths about green cleaning products
Over the years, myths have sprung up about green cleaning products and how they impact your environment. Some believe green cleaning products are automatically more expensive, and others believe green products aren’t strong enough to get a tough job done. In other cases, some people avoid buying green cleaning products altogether because they know many products with “all-natural” or similar labels don’t mean much of anything.
So let’s start there. The act of making something appear more environmentally friendly than it really is is called green washing. Companies like to use words like “green” or “natural” or even “all-natural” to make it seem as if their products benefit the environment in some way or avoid harmful chemicals, but that’s not always the case. The FCC, which is in charge of marketing label laws, doesn’t have a rule or law or definition when it comes to these terms, so companies can use them any way they like and charge a premium.
That can be misleading for consumers because these companies aren’t actually implementing green practices in their businesses. They’re just marketing their products in such a way that consumers think they’re doing more than they actually are.
Here are a few tips for spotting greenwashing and going beyond the nice marketing.
- Ignore the front image and look to the label. Companies that care about the environment will make a point of labeling the ingredients because they value transparency and believe in their product.
- If you’re unsure about a product, wait to buy it and do a little research first. If the product lists ingredients that you don’t recognize, look them up and read more about them and how they’re used in cleaning products. Don’t assume that every chemical you don’t recognize is bad. Remember, chlorine is toxic to humans, but when it binds with sodium, you get table salt. You can also Google the company’s name and “greenwashing” to see if there have been any complaints about the product around the internet.
- Familiarize yourself with real green certifications. Some products will claim to be endorsed by a green-sounding organization, but that organization might not have high standards for what it means to be green.
There’s also the myth that green products cost more than regular cleaning products and are therefore too expensive for most people. Of course, every budget is different, and you’ll find a wide price range of products at any Target or Walmart. But in the grand scheme of things, most green cleaning products aren’t that much more expensive — or even more expensive at all — than other cleaning products. Many green cleaning products are priced right about where their competitors are, and if you can spare a few extra dollars for a better product, we think it’s worth the investment.
Finally, green cleaning products can be just as effective, if not more effective in some cases, than any other cleaner. They’re able to get the job done, and when you’re finished, your home will smell fresh and clean without that chemical tint hanging in the air.
The best low-impact, green cleaning products
So now that you’re caught up on what is or is not a green cleaning product, it’s time to stock your home with the best low-impact green cleaning products. These products pack a punch when it comes time to clean, but they’re still gentle on the environment. Here are our top picks for the best low-impact green cleaning products that live up to their reputation.
The best green all-purpose cleaners
Bon Ami Powder Cleanser
When you have a stain around your home, you might first reach for baking soda. But some jobs are too tough for your average bit of baking soda. So when you’ve got a serious stain to contend with, try Bon Ami powder cleanser. Best for cleaning kitchen and bath surfaces, this low-impact powder cleanser will make your kitchen sink shine, but it is also hypoallergenic and does not use chlorine. In fact, it even lists its ingredients on the can.
Meliora Cleaning Products Gentle Home Cleaning Scrub
Similar to Bon Ami, Meliora jumps in to clean kitchen and bath surfaces when a little baking soda just won’t be enough. In fact, it even works on surfaces such as ceramic tile and stainless steel so you can be sure you won’t harm your important surfaces. It’s also biodegradable and dye-free, so you can be sure that when you rinse it off, you’re not sending chemicals into the water supply. Meliora also lists its ingredients right on the can, and perhaps best of all, it has a refreshing peppermint tea tree sent, which means your home will smell fresh and clean once you’ve finished cleaning.
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Basil Scent Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner
You’ve likely heard of Mrs. Meyer’s products. The brand is perhaps the easiest to find in stores such as Target and Walmart, and in green cleaning circles, it lives up to its reputation. When it comes to cleaning surfaces, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Basil Scent Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner does not mess around. Like any other all-purpose cleaner, Mrs. Meyer’s can be used on kitchen and bathroom surfaces, and it’s great at cutting through tough stains and build-up. It also has a refreshing scent of day basil, which will make your whole home smell clean without that chemical tinge.
Branch Basics Concentrate
All of the ingredients in Branch Basics Concentrate are plant- or mineral-based, which means the product does not sure any harsh chemicals. And yet, it gets the job done as well as any other all-purpose cleaner. It also uses simple packaging, so you don’t have to harm the environment with more plastic packaging. What’s really great about this cleaner is that it can be diluted and used for a number of other purposes such as cleaning windows, doing laundry and even washing hands or bodies.
The best green floor cleaners
White House Foods Cleaning Vinegar
Many people who try to live green lives swear by the power of vinegar for floors. It removes dirt and debris while still using simple ingredients. This cleaner, White House Foods Cleaning Vinegar, does all that and leaves behind a nice fresh scent, rather than the hard scent that usually comes with vinegar.
Jaws Hardwood Floor Cleaner Bottle with Two Refill Pods
While green cleaning often refers to the types of ingredients being sprayed around your home, it also includes the amount of packaging. Since you’re likely going to be using these products again and again, why should you buy a big, brand-new bottle every time you need more of it? That’s where Jaws comes in. Like other floor cleaners, this one needs to be diluted with water, but Jaws does something a little different. When you purchase, it comes with an empty bottle and two pods that will make a full bottle each. When you need more, you can simple pick up two more refill pods. Overall, you could use the same bottle over and over again. On top of that, Jaws is biodegradable and safe to use around all members of the family, and it’s safe to use on surfaces such as marble, sealed wood and stone.
Truce Wood Cleaner
Your hardwood floors can be a great investment in your home. Not only are they highly desirable among home buyers, but they can also improve the value of your home if they’re kept in good condition. Enter Truce wood cleaner. This cleaner uses plenty of vinegar to cut down on stains and dirt, but it also uses olive oil to make wood surfaces shine. You can also use it on wood furniture and wooden window sills. It also comes with an easy-to-use refillable cartridge, which means it cuts down on additional packaging. When used regularly, you’ll find your floors look better overtime and need fewer repairs. Your wooden bookcases and nightstands will also shine.
Other green cleaners
Ecover Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Toilet bowl cleaners have a tough job, and Ecover is up to that challenge. Not only is it made from plant- and mineral-based materials, but it’s also safe to go into septic tanks, which means it won’t harm your plumbing system. Considering how expensive it is to replace the plumbing in your home, it makes a difference to be a little greener. Additionally, Ecover is 100% recyclable, and it’s not tested on animals, which means you’re doing your furry friends a favor.
Intelligent Nutrients Hand Sanitizer
So we all know how important it is to wash our hands and keep them clean, but what about our fruits and vegetables? Though most grocery stores do their best, all produce needs to be thoroughly washed before any use, and some produce, like apples and cucumbers, should have the wax coating removed. That’s where Intelligent Nutrients comes in. Not only will it sanitize your hands, but it will also safely wash your fruits and vegetables. It’s a handy product to have near your kitchen sink.
ATTITUDE Nature + Hypoallergenic Baby Bottle and Dishwashing Liquid
When you need to clean your baby’s pacifier or teething toys — objects that will go right into your child’s mouth — you’re probably a little more picky about what’s going to be used to clean them. And rightly so, you don’t want to put harmful chemicals in your baby’s mouth. That’s where ATTITUDE Nature comes in. The product cuts through grease, bacteria and odors, but it’s also hypoallergenic and fragrance-free.
As you’re looking for other ways to protect the environment and go green, remember that green cleaning products are just part of the equation. You can do so much more to minimize your impact on the environment, and much of it can be done by just tweaking your shopping lists and regular routines.
Like most homes in Houston, you should be recycling, but do you know if you’re recycling the right way? Check in with the city’s recycling program to make sure you’re doing your part to make sure all of your recyclables actually find new life and don’t wind up in a landfill.
You can also shift some of your shopping habits. Rather than buying brand new furniture, check sites like Craigslist and letgo as well as vintage shops in your area. You might be able to breathe new life into an old table or nightstand, and you’ll be cutting down on the demand for new furniture, which means (in theory, if everyone else does their part) less of it will be produced.
Share with us: What are your favorite green cleaning products? Share with us in the comments and let us know how we can help with your next soft washing service.