What’s Lurking in Your Laundry Detergent? Reading Common Household Product Labels

What chemicals lurk under your sink?You may think harsh, toxic, and corrosive chemicals are only found in industrial facilities. But many harmful chemicals are found right under your kitchen or bathroom sink. You can find the worst offenders by noting the amount of warnings on their labels, but it is no easy task to learn what is actually in your laundry detergent, all-purpose spray, or synthetic air freshener.

The government does not require companies to label the ingredients in their cleaning products. Trying to discover what chemicals you’re using to clean your clothes, countertops, or toilet bowl requires a lot of research, and often, there’s no way to get a complete list.

Fortunately for consumers, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has researched and tested many common household products and graded them from A to F. It helps consumers decode cleaning product labels so they can make smart choices for their families.

Read That Label!

“Use as directed.” “Rinse off.” “Wear gloves and goggles.” Cleaning product labels are full of warnings and instructions because coming into contact with their chemicals can harm your eyes, skin, and respiratory system. Read and follow these instructions to avoid injury.

In addition to these instructions and warnings, labels often include ample marketing. Here is what EWG has to say about some of the more popular label claims:

  • Biodegradable: Not a regulated label, so you cannot assume a product that claims to be biodegradable is better for you or the environment. Some products may biodegrade into harmful substances, such as nonylphenol ethoxylate.
  • Bleach alternative: Safe, right? Bleach alternative often means the product contains oxygen bleach rather than chlorine bleach. Oxygen bleach is still harmful.
  • Natural/Plant-Based/Organic: Like “biodegradable,” these labels are not regulated, so they can mean anything. If something claims to be organic, look for the USDA Organic label. If it’s missing, don’t be fooled. Notable exceptions are companies that back up these claims by disclosing their ingredients.
  • Active ingredient: Active ingredients are typically antimicrobial pesticides that aren’t necessary to get your surfaces clean. Try to avoid them if you can.

Most Conventional Cleaning Products Earn a D or F

Unfortunately, conventional cleaning products get poor marks from EWG for consumer health and safety. Seventy-five percent of laundry detergents, 75 percent of bathroom cleaners, 66 percent of all-purpose sprays, and nearly 80 percent of air fresheners earn a D or F grade from EWG.

Instead, go for products that can back up their all-natural or plant-based claims. Look for the USDA Organic label, the EcoLogo, Green Seal, and Design for the Environment logo. These will point you in the direction of safer products.

For more information on green cleaning products, contact me today!

Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance

Differentiate Yourself from Your Competition by Going Green

Does your gym use green cleaning products?One of the biggest challenges in a competitive industry is defining what separates you from the rest of the pack. It can be difficult to uncover the unique benefits or features they offer their clients. Often, these differentiators come from unexpected places. They can even be found in the products you keep in your cleaning supply cabinet.

A Not-So-Green Scenario

Take a moment to imagine that you’re working out at your favorite gym. You just finished a circuit on the weight machines and worked up quite a sweat. You need to wipe down the equipment you used. You grab the spray bottle of disinfectant and a paper towel. You’re not sure what’s in the bottle, but you smell bleach, despite the strong floral fragrance that fills the air.

The disinfectant leaves a slight film on the vinyl, but you figure it must be better than leaving your sweat behind. You toss the paper towel in the trashcan on your way to the locker room. In a few minutes, another gym goer takes your spot on the weight machine circuit. In shorts and a yoga top, her skin comes into contact with the vinyl you just wiped down. The cloud of fragrance still lingers as she huffs through her workout. Later, she wonders why her eyes are watering and where her headache came from. Must be pollen in the air, she thinks. She doesn’t realize these are common side effects of the chemicals in conventional cleaning products.

A Green Scenario

Now, imagine you’re at your favorite gym and just finished your weight machine circuit. But instead of grabbing a spray bottle full of bleach and other harmful chemicals, you grab a bottle of an all-natural disinfecting product. Its fresh citrus scent isn’t just for show. It comes from citrus fruit and thyme, both powerful disinfectants and deodorizers. You wipe down the vinyl with a paper towel, which you then toss into a bin marked “compost only.” When the next gym goer takes a seat at the machine, she barely notices the citrus smell. Her head and eyes stay clear.

If Your Company’s Gone Green, Promote It

Most people don’t think about the products their fitness centers, boarding kennels, or even their own workplaces use to clean equipment. But with a little education, companies that use green products can turn this choice into a competitive advantage. More than half of surveyed consumers say they would pay more—sometimes significantly more—for a product that is environmentally friendly.

So how do you get the word out about your sustainable choices? Add verbiage to your print and online advertising that alerts readers and users to your use of green products. Include a page on your website explaining your commitment to sustainability. Add special signage at your business to show customers you’re concerned about their safety and the environment. Hold sustainability events to educate your customers about how to find and use natural cleaning products.

The products you stock your supply cabinet with can set you apart from your competition. For more information on switching your conventional cleaning products to natural ones, contact me today!

Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance