Green Cleaning Tips
Have you ever wondered if the traditional cleaning products you use are safe for the environment? How about all of the new products entering the market that claim to be “green,” “natural,” or made from “all natural ingredients?”
Design for the Environment (DfE)
One of the programs designed to help consumers looking for environmentally-friendly cleaning products is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Design for the Environment (DfE) program. NSF International was chosen by the EPA DfE program to assist in the product review process. Companies whose products meet the requirements of this program earn the right to display the DfE logo on the product's label.
When you see the DfE logo on a product, it means that the product lines up on the "green" end of the health and environmental spectrum without sacrificing product performance. It also means that each ingredient has been screened for potential human health and environmental effects and that, based on currently available health and safety data, the product contains only those ingredients that pose the least concern among chemicals in their class.
Other Cleaning Options
For many cleaning tasks around the home, you can use products that you might already have on hand:
- A vinegar and water solution can be used to clean and freshen many surfaces around the home, including walls and cupboards. It also works well to clean windows.
- Baking soda can be used not only to help adsorb odors around the house, but also to help clean areas such as bathtubs that you don’t want to scratch.
- Baking soda can also be used to adsorb odors around the home, including in refrigerators and closets.
- Lemon juice can be used to help dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits. When added to a vinegar/water cleaning mixture, it also helps neutralize the vinegar smell.
- Cornstarch (as well as baking soda) can be used to help deodorize rugs and carpets. Sprinkle about 1 cup per room, then vacuum after 30 minutes.
If you do find yourself needing to purchase store-bought cleaners, look for products that do not contain additives such as fragrances.
Keep in mind that surfaces where bacteria can grow need to be both cleaned and disinfected. For example, kitchen counters and sinks should be washed with a mild detergent mixed with hot water. After rinsing with clean water, these surfaces should be disinfected using a DfE registered disinfectant or a mild bleach-based solution (1 cap of household bleach to a gallon of hot water). For specialty countertop surfaces, be sure to use the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning and disinfecting agents.
For more tips on house cleaning and avoiding germs, check out NSF’s home cleaning tips.
For more information about the EPA Design for the Environment program, visit the EPA’s website.