Sustainable Cleaning Supplies: Why Make the Switch?
7 minute read
When it comes to learning how to be more sustainable, you can start by opting for more sustainable cleaning supplies. Choosing between conventional cleaning products and more sustainable options can be like trying to decide between taking the stairs or the elevator. You know they’ll both help you achieve the same end result—but the overall impact of the choice can have you scratching your head.
Fortunately, choosing a sustainable cleaner won’t make you as winded as climbing five flights, and the benefits of your choice can extend far beyond your hamstrings.
In addition to potentially reducing health risks, cleaning products made with safer ingredients can help minimize your carbon footprint and prevent harmful chemicals from winding up in our ecosystems. With a little sustainable info, you’ll be ready to make the switch from traditional cleaning products to cleaning supplies powered by plants and driven by perfection.
The Green Clean Revolution
It’s easy to assume that sustainable cleaning supplies help protect the planet and are made with plant-based ingredients. But the reality is, when it comes to green cleaning products, understanding what makes a product “green” can be more difficult than saying “dipropylene glycol butyl ether” three times fast.
The problem? Many companies brand their products as “green” without taking the steps necessary to ensure that every ingredient meets the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice guidelines.1
That’s where ECOS comes in. By embodying the core tenets of sustainable manufacturing, we’re helping to put the green back into clean. These tenets include:
- Climate positivity – Just because a cleaning product freshens like a summer rain in Georgia doesn’t mean it embodies climate positivity. True climate positivity starts with the company that produced the cleaning product. Climate-positive companies strive for carbon neutrality, zero waste, and renewable energy.
- Clean chemistry – Clean chemistry is green chemistry. It favors sustainable, biodegradable, and plant-powered ingredients over chemicals with warning labels. Clean chemistry takes into account the lifecycle of a product, not just its intended use.
In short, green cleaning products prioritize human and environmental health alongside premium grime-fighting powers.
3 Reasons to Choose Sustainable Cleaning Supplies
Now that you know what makes a cleaning product green, let’s dive into three reasons why sustainable cleaning products should be counted on for counters (and doorknobs, sinks, plates, and pretty much anything you want to sparkle or sanitize).
#1 They Can Be Better For Your Health
When you clean your home, you’re helping to protect yourself and your family from bacteria and viruses. However, if you’re using conventional cleaning supplies, you may be doing more harm than good.
That’s because many traditional cleaning supplies contain toxic chemicals and volatile organic compounds that are less than clean. 2
A few of the most common chemical “nasties” include:
- 1,4-dioxane – This chemical is common in many cleaning supplies that rely on ethoxylated surfactants. 1,4-dioxane has been shown to potentially cause cancer and other diseases.3 It’s rarely listed on an ingredients list, making this nasty chemical one of the hardest to spot.
- Benzenesulfonic acid – Benzenesulfonic acid is an aromatic organosulfur compound common in many household cleaning products. A strong corrosive, this chemical can be harmful to the eyes and skin.4
- Dipropylene glycol methyl ether – An organic compound found in many cleaning products, dipropylene glycol methyl ether can cause lightheadedness and nausea when inhaled. Studies have also linked this nasty to reproductive health risks.5
In addition to these chemicals, many conventional cleaning products contain other neurotoxins and carcinogens that many countries have banned. So if the cleaning products that are supposed to keep you protected actually contain harsh chemicals, it may be time for a switch.
It’s best to stick with plant-powered cleaning products that kick these nasties to the curb. So, with a sustainable cleaning product, you can still get the same cleaning effect but with safer ingredients.
Clean Ingredients, Cleaner Health
If many traditional cleaning products contain nasty chemicals, safer cleaning supplies are known for their plant-powered ingredients.
That said, not all sustainable cleaning products are created equal. For the best of the best, look for products that bear the Safer Choice logo.
Safer Choice-certified products ensure that every ingredient is the safest in its class. Studies have shown Safer Choice products may be safer than traditional cleaning products—especially when used in large quantities.6
Plant-Based Cleaning, Plant-Based Power
A great example of a Safer Choice product that packs the power of plants—not the nefariousness of nasties—is our ECOS Hypoallergenic Laundry Detergent with Enzymes.
With cleaning power derived from the sustainable coconut, our plant-powered laundry detergent includes the following ingredients:
- Cocamidopropyl betaine (cleaning agent)
- Sodium citrate (water softener)
- Caprylyl glycol (preservative)
While these ingredients might sound highfalutin, they’re actually Safer Choice-approved ingredients and plant-based derivatives designed to clean your clothes safely and effectively.
#2 They Can Be Better For the Environment
If the Lorax washed his hands before stroking his bushy yellow beard, he’d use a product like our ECOS Hypoallergenic Hand Soap (while finding a way to work it into a rhyme).
That’s because our products aren’t just safer for you—they’re also safer for the environment.
Not only are they made in a more sustainable way, but they also use cleaner ingredients that remove stains without sending toxins down the drain and they’re more concentrated for less water waste. By using ECOS products, you can add to your journey on how to reduce waste in your home and community.
Let’s dive into two essential components of sustainable cleaning supplies.
Holistic Approaches, Environmental Solutions
Holistic manufacturing takes a product’s full environmental impact into account. These business models look at everything, from the sourcing of ingredients to the product’s final disposal.
After all, what good are sustainable ingredients if the production process turns a community from clean to polluted?
Making the switch to sustainable cleaning supplies means choosing companies that take the following factors into account:
- Water use – Companies whose production doesn’t harm the environment use minimal amounts of water in the manufacturing process. What’s more, these companies make an effort to restore the water they’ve used in manufacturing through investments in water restoration programs for threatened habitats.
- Carbon emissions – Many companies manufacture cleaning products in ways that exacerbate their carbon footprints. Holistic approaches, however, strive to lessen carbon emissions by reducing carbon footprints and relying on renewable energy.
- Packaging – Climate-positive companies are always innovating new solutions to product packaging, like using recyclable materials, increasing product concentrations for smaller packaging, and eliminating water altogether to eliminate plastics.
For example, our ECOS Liquidless Laundry Detergent sheets packaged in recyclable paperboard boxes and are entirely plastic-free, giving you the same great ECOS laundry detergent in an easy-to-use and easy-to-carry that works great and reduces waste.
Green Chemicals for a Greener Planet
Studies suggest that sustainable cleaning supplies can be much better for the planet than traditional cleaning supplies.7
This is largely because the best green cleaning products avoid chemicals that harm people and the environment. These decidedly unfriendly chemicals include:
- VOCs – VOCs are toxic chemicals that vaporize and enter the air from traditional cleaning products, disinfectants, air fresheners, aerosol sprays, paints, pesticides, and more. VOCs can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, and skin reactions, or more severely, trigger asthma symptoms or damage the liver, kidneys, or central nervous system.
- Ammonia – Ammonia (or ammonium hydroxide) can cause nose and throat irritation, leading to coughing and difficulty breathing.
- Chlorine Bleach – Bleach (or sodium hypochlorite) is toxic if inhaled and can cause respiratory, skin and eye irritation.
- Quats – Quats (or quaternary ammonium cations) are often listed as “cationic surfactant” or “benzalkonium chloride,” can cause wide-ranging health concerns from lung and skin irritation to reproductive issues and are a known asthma contributor.
Instead of choosing cleaning products filled with eco-enemies, use plant-based cleaning products that go easy on the planet and your health
#3 They Can Be Better for Your Community
Many sustainable companies strive to make the world a better place through their environmental impact. But some take it a step further and support initiatives that can directly benefit your community.
These social and environmental impact initiatives could include:
- Environmental advocacy – Without successful environmental lobbying, convincing leaders to take action for our planet would be as slow as molasses. That’s because environmental lobbyists help pass bills fighting for regulations on air pollution, deforestation, water use, and other environmental issues.
- Ingredient transparency – You might not realize that there’s no federal requirement for companies that make claiming products to disclose their ingredients. Sustainable companies not only disclose their ingredients right on the label, they fight for legislation that would require all cleaning products to list their ingredients – so you can know what you’re bringing into your home.
- Green science investments – If the future is green, the science needs to be greener. Look for sustainable cleaning companies that have a record of investing in green science programs, mentoring the next generation of green chemists, and advising companies on green initiatives.
Making the switch to sustainable cleaning supplies means directly supporting these initiatives. That way you can rest easy knowing that you’ve helped clean up your community and our world with each clean shirt.
Switch to a Better, Cleaner Future With ECOS
Sustainable cleaning products can be found in many forms, from dish soaps and laundry detergents to bathroom cleaners. So, switching to sustainable cleaning supplies is one of the best moves you can make for yourself, your family, your community, and the environment.
In addition to providing safer cleaning power, green cleaning products promote climate positivity. They also embody the social and environmental initiatives that help make the world a greener, cleaner place.
For over 50 years, ECOS has made cleaning safer for you and the environment. That’s why we were named the 2022 EPA Safer Choice Partner of the Year, and it’s why we’re committed to safer cleaning for generations to come.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1,4-Dioxane. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/1-4-dioxane/default.html
Consumer Products Ingredients Database. EPA Safer Choice Ingredient. https://www.productingredients.com/
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Identifying Greener Cleaning Products. https://www.epa.gov/greenerproducts/identifying-greener-cleaning-products
Naturwissenschaften. Aerosols and environmental pollution. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19727639/
International Journal Of Occupational And Environmental Health.. Hazardous substances in frequently used professional cleaning products. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4096065/
American Journal of Industrial Medicine. Traditional and environmentally preferable cleaning product exposure and health symptoms in custodians. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4976595/
New Jersey Department of Health. Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet-Dipropylene Glycol Methyl Ether. https://www.nj.gov/health/eoh/rtkweb/documents/fs/0804.pdf
PUBCHEM. Benzenesulfonic acid. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Benzenesulfonic-acid#section=Safety-and-Hazards&fullscreen=true
PLOS One. Cleaning Products, Environmental Awareness and Risk Perception in Mérida, Mexico. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3751835/