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Read the Label! How to Buy Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

By Sarah Neal, Haddam Sustainability Committee

(November 15, 2022) — If you are purchasing a cleaning product for your home, it is important to read the list of ingredients before you buy it and to know which ingredients are toxic. However, in the U.S. and Canada, companies are not required to list all ingredients in their products, so you may want to investigate further by checking with the Environmental Working Group website EWG is a team of scientists, policy experts, lawyers, and communication and data experts whose mission is “to empower us with breakthrough research to make informed choices and live a healthy life in a healthy environment.”

In addition to their rating system for cleaning and beauty products, they also track pesticide use on produce and publish a list of the “Clean Fifteen” (not necessary to purchase organically grown, such as avocados, melons, and pineapple) and the “Dirty Dozen” (best to buy organic, such as strawberries, spinach, and apples). Their website is comprehensive. To find out about ratings for cleaning products, including a list of all the ingredients, click the link on Areas of Focus and then the link for Household and Consumer Products. You may want to get their free Guide to Healthy Cleaning or the app.

While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does require safety labeling such as “Danger,” “Poison,” “Warning,” and “Caution,” it seems these signal words do not consider long-term exposure to fumes from products with toxic ingredients. In fact, long-term exposure to toxic chemicals, and combinations of them, is of grave concern for us all because of their cumulative effect. For more specifics on toxins, refer to the Haddam Sustainability Facebook page for a list of 14 toxic chemicals to avoid in cleaning products.


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