Do green home cleaning products work? We tackled eco-friendly arguments.

Do green home cleaning products work? We tackled eco-friendly arguments.

Many people consider eco-friendly cleaning products to be ineffective, but for years that was a fair assessment, says Jason Marshall, who directs the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) lab at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell.

In the late 1990s, green cleaning products, while less toxic, often lacked the cleaning power of their conventional counterparts. Since then, manufacturers have poured millions of dollars into more effective and environmentally friendly cleaning sprays and other products. Based on the lab’s head-to-head testing of green cleaning products against more toxic cleaners, Marshall claims that today, there can be no compromise.

“Green products can and do just as well as traditional cleaning products,” he says. Even the toughest household chores, like disinfecting surfaces from E. coli, can be done just as well without toxic chemicals.

But that doesn’t mean all products labeled as good for the environment perform equally well. To ensure a product is just as effective as its conventional counterpart, look for independent certifications like Green Seal, EPA Safer Choice, and UL Ecologo. To qualify for these seals, eco-friendly products must perform just as well as their conventional counterparts, Marshall says. “That takes the guesswork out of it,” he adds.

If you don’t want to buy cleaning products, TURI advises you how to make them yourself.

Is it worth it? The chemicals in cleaning products are riskier for your health, not just the environment. Conventional cleaning products can contain toxins including PFAS, also known as forever chemicals, and phthalates. Both have been linked to heart problems, low birth weight and certain cancers.

Studies show that people who are regularly exposed to cleaning products, such as janitors and housekeepers, are more likely to suffer from asthma, respiratory problems and skin rashes. Researchers found fewer cases in people exposed to more environmentally friendly products