Scientists are increasingly concerned about the number of chemicals we use in our homes, especially because studies have not been done on what these chemicals do in combination with each other. New chemicals are being developed constantly, and it takes time to fully understand how they affect human health. Most of the hazardous ingredients in household cleaning products are either carcinogens (cause cancer and/or promote cancer’s growth), endocrine disruptors (mimic human hormones, confusing the body with false signals which can lead to reproductive, developmental, growth and behavior problems), or neurotoxins (alter neurons, affecting brain activity, causing headaches or loss of intellect).
Below are some guidelines to use while shopping for nontoxic household cleaning products. The guidelines will also help you avoid conventional products that have been "greenwashed" or marketed as eco-friendly.
- Read ingredient lists. Avoid petroleum-based solvents, chlorine, ammonia and phosphates.
- Cleaning products are required by law to include label warnings if harmful ingredients are included. Avoid products that have "danger," ''poison" or "warning" on the label.
- Manufacturers are not required to list all ingredients. Choose products that voluntarily list all ingredients. If you are curious about one of the products in your home, try looking it up at www.householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov/index.htm
- Look for products that make specific claims regarding biodegradability, such as within 28 days.
- If a product is marketed as "natural," read the label more closely, lots of things (even petroleum) are "natural".
- Avoid products with synthetic fragrances. If you prefer a scented product, try one that uses essential oils.
- Buy in bulk or concentrated form (there's no reason to pay for added water).
- Choose products that have the least packaging.
- Try castile soap, a mild, liquid, vegetable-based soap traditionally made from olive oil, such as Dr. Bronner's.
These brands make nontoxic cleaning products:
- Seventh Generation
- Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Planet
- Bright Green
- ecostore USA
- Clorox Green Works
City of Aspen Residents may stop by the Environmental Health Department (second floor of City Hall) during October to pick up a free sample of non-toxic dish liquid (while supplies last).