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Safety & Prevention

Green Cleaning: Choosing Products That Are Safer for Your Family

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Routine cleaning to remove household dust and scour soiled surfaces can help keep your home and your family healthy. The cleaning products you use can affect your family's health, too.

Green cleaning products are a safe option. Most green products are either nontoxic or less toxic than conventional cleaning products. Eco-friendly cleaning products are often cheaper, and they can work just as well as traditional cleaning products.

Read on for more reasons to consider "greening" your cleaning. Also find tips on how to choose healthier cleaning products or make your own.

Why are some household cleaning products more toxic than others?

Many conventional cleaning products have a mixture of ingredients that releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs stay in the air for a long time after the product is used.

These types of cleaning products expose us and the environment to plastics, toxic substances and chemical mixtures that can harm our health. They also leave behind microplastics and chemical residues that get into the air and water supply.

Children are more at risk from the effects of toxic cleaning products. They are growing and developing. They breathe faster and breathe more air compared to their body weight than adults. Behaviors like crawling on the floor or placing objects and hands in their mouth also put them at more risk.

How to shop for greener cleaning products

Just because a product is labeled as "green" or "natural," it still may have ingredients that can cause health problems.

There are programs that allow companies to label specific products with logos that indicate the product is less toxic for home use. Logos include "Safer Choice," "Green Seal Certified," "Made Safe," and "EWG Verified (Environmental Working Group)."

Check the Consumer Product Information Database list for product ingredients and safety information.

You can also look for other green cleaning supplies like natural sponges and scrubs that are made from cellulose or coconut fibers. They are biodegradable, last longer and do not release microplastics into the water supply.

Go greener with homemade cleaning products

Green products are better for the environment. Going green also means using less packaging and waste. And buying manufactured products requires fuel and materials to transport the replacement products to store shelves.

Here are a couple of homemade household cleaner recipes you can try.

Homemade green cleaning recipes to make your home sparkle

Consider this for glass, countertops, stoves and sinks.


  • 1 cup vinegar

  • 2 cups of water

  • Lemon juice, lemon or orange peels (optional)

Pour ingredients into a clean, empty spray bottle. If you dislike the smell of vinegar, add fresh lemon juice or pour vinegar into a jar and add orange peel or lemon peels. Cover tightly and let sit for several days and then pour off the liquid (discarding the peels).

Note: Vinegar can be used on glass, walls, cupboards, floors, sinks, stovetops, toilets, bathtubs and coffee makers. But it can damage or discolor natural stone, wood that has been waxed, cast iron or aluminum.

Shaking baking soda onto a damp sponge is enough to clean many surfaces, including showers, tubs and sinks. If there is a grimy build-up, as can occur on a stove top or in the oven, you can use this all-purpose cleaning scrub.


  • 3 tablespoons of baking soda

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon water

Mix baking soda, salt and water to make a paste. Spread the paste onto stove top, inside oven or in stainless-steel sinks. Let sit for a few minutes, then scrub. It is best to clean regularly to avoid large buildup that will require a lot of scrubbing and reapplication.

Green products for cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing

Routine cleaning of surfaces with water, soap and scrubbing helps prevent the spread of germs. Sometimes, like when someone in your home is sick, deeper cleaning, sanitizing or disinfecting is needed.

If you need to sanitize or disinfect, you can select a safer product with one of these active ingredients: hydrogen peroxide, citric acid, L-lactic acid and ethanol. Properly diluted household bleach or 3% hydrogen peroxide can also be used safely.

Check the Environmental Protection Agency Design for the Environment Program list for safer active ingredients.

Safety tips for any cleaning product

No matter what product you use when cleaning, read the product label and follow safety precautions.

While you clean, open windows and turn on a fan to air out your home. Always store all cleaning products in their original containers, and away and out of sight from children and pets.

More information

Last Updated
Adapted from Healthy Children Magazine (American Academy of Pediatrics Copyright © 2024)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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