Green Cleaning at Home

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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Green Cleaning at Home

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State agencies are making the switch to green cleaning products, so why don’t you! The chemicals in traditional cleaning products and disinfectants may cause health problems, including coughing, wheezing and asthma, as well as eye, nose, throat and skin irritation. In addition, they may adversely effect the environment. Selecting safer cleaning products and limiting the use of disinfectants protects you, your family and the environment. 

How do I know if my cleaning product is really green? Check the label for a multi-attribute third-party certification. Most these certifications require products to meet a variety of qualifications such as performance standards, environmental standards, and limitations on certain chemicals known to have adverse health effects. You can also look up the cleaning products you use on the Environmental Work Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning. This resource ranks cleaning products and provides additional information on product ingredients, so you can easily see greener alternatives to the products you currently use.

Another important aspect of green cleaning is knowing the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning removes dirt and grime from surfaces, while disinfecting kills bacteria and other microbes that may be living on surfaces. Disinfecting should be done less frequently than cleaning, so it is important to have cleaners that do not include disinfectants. However, when disinfecting surfaces, be sure to clean the surface beforehand and always follow the instructions on the product label.

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Check product labels to find out more about its ingredients. If the label does not list the product’s ingredients, check the manufacturer’s website. A growing number of cleaning product manufacturers are disclosing their ingredients due to demand from consumers. Pay attention to any warnings on product labels and follow the instructions to minimize the risks associated with the product.

DEC recently released the final policy on Household Cleansing Product Information Disclosure, which requires manufacturers of household cleaning products sold in New York State to disclose the ingredients in their products, as well as other information on their websites beginning in July 2019. More information on the policy can be found on DEC's website.

If you would like to learn more about green cleaning products, check out the NYS Pollution Prevention Institute’s presentation on “Clean, Green, and Healthy Cleaners.” (PDF)