EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I really love the Environmental Working Group and the reports they produce. Its findings go a long way to help consumers dig through all of the jargon and figure out what chemicals are in everyday products. The EWG’s 2012 Guide to Healthy Cleaning is my new favorite.

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to decode a label in the middle of a store aisle and having no idea whether or not a product is going to bring unwanted chemicals into your home. But thanks to the EWG, now you don’t have to do that. The group tested more than 2,000 cleaning products for actual ingredients, disclosure of those ingredients and any harmful effects. They graded each of the products and categorized them on their website. It’s completely user-friendly.

I recommend reading the FAQ section on how they came up with each grade to decide what level of product you’re comfortable with in your home. Personally, I’d like to choose products that are an “a” or “b.” I looked up many of the products I use and most of them passed the test.

I also searched the database by brand since there are 3 brands I use most often: Method, Seventh Generation and Ecover. I was really surprised to see that none of the Method products tested received an “a.” Ecover has fewer products than the other two companies but I was really happy to see that only two products received a “c” and nothing in their line was graded a “d” or “f.” I swear by their laundry detergent and dishwashing powder.

Some other notable findings:

  •  Borax, an ingredient popular in many of the make your own laundry detergent mixes, can disrupt hormones.
  • The EWG recommends against the use of all air fresheners, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, and oven & drain cleaners.
  • “Natural” doesn’t mean non-toxic
  • This should come as no surprise – there is a lot of “green-washing” or companies claiming to offer a cleaner product than they actually do.

This is a lot of information and the EWG did a great job of processing it. All of the results are free on www.ewg.org. They also offer a printed cheat-sheet for $5 that you can put in your purse.