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Take the toxic chemicals and fumes out of your spring cleaning routine with this guide to green cleaning your house from top to bottom.

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Green cleaning is an eco-friendly way of scrubbing down the house using natural products that don't damage the environment, like soap, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and borax. Floor steamers are also green cleaners, since the only thing they clean with is water.

Don't just rely on labels that trumpet terms like "green" and "eco-friendly. The trick is being able to sift through a label and tell what's what.

Here are just a few ingredients that are considered toxic:

-Chlorine bleach
-Methylene chloride
-Sulfuric acid
-Sodium hydroxide

And here's an obvious one: any product with a word like "danger" "warning" or "caution" on the bottle is clearly toxic.

When shopping for ecologically-sound household cleaners, look for products that are labeled as non-toxic and environmentally friendly. But also be wary of these claims, as there are very few regulations for manufacturers' environmental labeling. And always opt for companies that disclose their ingredient list.

green cleaningGreen Seal and EPA

You can also look for the Design for the Environment (DfE) seal, which guarantees the the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved each ingredient for potential human health and environmental effects. Another reliable certification is the Green Seal, which is a science-based environmental certification from a non-profit organization.

Good old-fashioned baking soda, white vinegar, soap and lemon juice are always green choices, but there are also many pre-made cleansers that are safe for the earth.

Here are some green cleaning brands we've tried and like:

Chlorox's Green Works line
Mrs. Meyers
S. C. Johnson's Nature's Source line
Seventh Generation

The good news for the style-conscious among us: Green products have morphed over the past decade from a hippie-inspired gesture to the mark of a cutting edge consumer. Here are some of our favorite fashion-forward green cleaning brands.

Photo: Courtesy of TWIST

Twist Sponges
Originally designed as an alternative to the conventional, yellow-green scrubbing sponges, Twist combines all natural, plant-based products like non-dyed cellulose, agave fiber and hemp. Twist's Matt Bauman says their classier looking packaging is almost coincidental -- the byproduct of its natural earth tone ingredients in a world of "gross, industrial looking" spongeware. Here's a list of places to find Twist sponges near you.

Photo: Bon Ami

Bon Ami Clean
Bon Ami, founded in 1886, was a pioneer in green cleaning. Carolyn West, Director of Sustainability, whose family has owned the company since the 1970s, says that even after the post-WWII influx of chemically saturated products, Bon Ami recently updated their packaging to make it more modern but kept their formula grounded in all natural ingredients.

Join Bon Ami's Good Friends Group to be included in regular product giveaways; you can order directly off the site.

Photo: Method

Method Clean
The Method product line is the brainchild of Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan who united their diverse backgrounds in chemistry and design to create shelf-popping products with enviro-friendly ingredients; they refused to sacrifice scent and smell like many products of the 1990s, while still adhering to strict standards of quality, earth-safe ingredients.

Method also follows the Cradle to Cradle design philosophy, considering the past, present and future impact of every product and assessing every ingredient with these standards. Fueled by their early vision to combine form and function, "we wanted products that were beautiful to look at," says Method's Katie Molinari, "but also functional in use."

Photo: Courtesy of Nellie's

Nellie's All-Natural Dryer Balls
These throw back, plastic-spiked creations are in line with Nellie's All-Natural Product's greater vision to use "non-toxic, hypo-allergenic and environmentally friendly cleaning products that reduce consumption and allow you to use only what you need." The PVC free dryer balls come in nostalgic packaging and feature a new natural fragrance option and promise to reduce drying time by 25% -- cutting energy, time and costs. Use the site to find a retailer near you.


green cleaningSustainable cleaning tools for greener cleaning. Photos (clockwise from top left): Scotch Brite, GreenSweep, The Containter Store, Skoy

Now that you've got your arsenal of green cleaning products, check out our recommendations for green cleaning tools.

Made from recycled soda bottles, this perky-green bucket is part of the the eclipse series by Casabella ($13). Not only will it hold suds, this bucket would also effectively store your Method, Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyer's products.

Worn-out tires and plastic were transformed into the broom head of this broom by GreenSweep. Bamboo, considered a renewable material because of its rapid regrowth, is in the broom's handle. Rounding out this very green cleaning tool are bristles on the broom head made from a mix of natural and recycled plastics. It's designed to be used indoors and outdoors.

Scotch Brite
Adding more waste to the trash when cleaning up a floor or countertop -- such as a dirty rag or cloth after it's been used -- does not make ecological sense. That's where Greener Clean natural bamboo cleaning cloth from ScotchBrite comes in. It's biodegradable and made from 100% natural fibers. Because it's derived from 60% bamboo rayon (a very renewable material) and 40% cotton, you know that it was made with the environment in mind. Plus it can be reused.

Two California moms, who were fed up with cloths that are made from toxic materials, teamed up to design these biodegradable cleaning cloths ($6 for four, in an array of colors). Made in Europe, in a factory known to adopt sustainable business practices, SKOY multi-use cloths are chlorine-free and made from a natural cotton and wood-based cellulose pulp. Using one cloth, according to the founders, will last as long as 15 rolls of paper towels would.

green cleaning, mirror  cleaningGetty Images

If your mirrors seems like magnets for every droplet, particle and print possible, reflect on these green mirror cleaning tips.

Daily Mirror Cleaning
Regular day-to-day mirror cleaning is a cinch -- and totally green -- if you use a little rubbing alcohol on a soft, lint-free cloth (I like microfiber); it'll wash away all sorts of spots and smudges. Plus, alcohol disinfects while it cleans and it evaporates as it dries so it leaves nothing behind but a streak-free shine!

Fresh out of rubbing alcohol? Try an antiseptic mouthwash, which has the same effect as the rubbing alcohol when applied to a lint-free cloth and used to buff the mirror.

If you don't like the smell of the alcohol or mouthwash, brew yourself a cup of tea and leave half of it to cool in the fridge for a while. Then dip a lint-free cloth into the tea and scrub the mirror. It's tea for two -- you and your mirror!

If these mirror cleaning solutions are all a little too drippy for you, try gel hand sanitizer to clean and shine all of your mirrors in seconds flat.

Removing Water Spots from the Mirror
Grab the baking soda from your pantry -- or keep an extra box in your medicine cabinet. A little of the this go-to green cleaning powder on a dry cloth will buff unsightly water spots away without leaving streaks behind.






  • Leigh

    I have switched over to green clean products for cleaning my home. When my cleaning lady used bleach a few times, my eyes started to water from burning and it was hard to breath. I now purchase environmentally friendly cleaning products and it is much better. I even use biodegradable laundry detergent. I am much happier.

  • Aletha

    There is a company that has been around for over 25 years which makes NON-TOXIC make up, cleaners, soaps, shampoos, approved pharmaceuticals, health and wellness products, and much more! They use ingredients such as Tea Tree Oil, citric acid from lemons, and thyme. Please visit, and then contact me for more information!

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    -They are chlorine free, ammonia free, formaldehyde free, abrasive and aerosol free, phosphate free... so on.

    Please take the time to check this out! And contact me at if you're interested in learning more. Thank you.

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  • Suzanne Holt

    The best statement in this article is "And here's an obvious one: any product with a word like "danger" "warning" or "caution" on the bottle is clearly toxic.". Most definitely!

    Radically reducing the use of chemicals in personal care and cleaning.

  • 4 Comments / 1 Pages

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