Wisconsin BBB: How to choose eco-friendly cleaning products

Milwaukee, Wis. – Using green cleaning products in your home can reduce toxins, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), that are bad for your health and the environment. Green cleaners are more popular than ever, which means shoppers have plenty of choices. But navigating the seals, certifications, and marketing claims can be confusing.

Here are tips for choosing cleaning products that are effective and safe for you and the environment.

Green Your Cleaning Routine

  • Check the packaging for eco-friendly labels. Products that display the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice label have safer chemical ingredients. According to the EPA, products with the label are “rigorously reviewed ingredient-for-ingredient, adhere to strict performance standards, and are evaluated to ensure the potential of adverse human and environmental health impacts is minimized.”
  • Be wary of “greenwashing”: Watch out for companies that label their products with vague phrases like “green” or “all-natural,” warns the EPA. This is called “greenwashing.” Instead, look for the Safer Choice label or specific, verifiable claims. You can search for Safer Choice certified products here
  • Make sure product claims are substantiated: According to the Federal Trade Commission, if a product makes specific claims, such as “VOC-free” or “non-toxic,” the company should be able to prove its product doesn’t have that ingredient nor any other ingredient that causes the same kind of risk. If you see a misleading green marketing claim, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
  • Try homemade cleaners. Many basic ingredients you already have stocked in your pantry, such as baking soda and white vinegar, make excellent cleaners. This article from greenamerica.org explains the ten basic ingredients that will tackle most cleaning jobs.
  • Choose products with minimal, recycled or biodegradable packaging. Being green isn’t just about chemicals. It’s also important to consider how a product is packaged. For example, if you use paper towels for cleaning purposes, make sure you buy a brand that uses recycled paper. Also, always choose biodegradable cleaning products when possible. Also, companies that use less plastic and offer refillable containers are a good choice.
  • Avoid single-use products. Single-use products don’t last long and their packaging ends up in landfills. Think about disposable products you can forego. For example, instead of paper towels, use rags that you can wash and reuse. Avoiding disposable items and packaging can help the environment and it’s usually more cost-effective too.
  • Get rid of plastic trash bags. Conservation.org reminds consumers that plastic garbage bags take a hefty 10 years to decompose (minimum), damaging ecosystems and harming animals. Try replacing your plastic trash bags with paper bags – or go completely bagless and wash out your trash cans instead.

For More Information

See this BBB article for tips for shopping green at the grocery store.  

Read about BBB Accreditation Standards and BBB Standards for Trust

For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.bbb.org/wisconsin, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.