Cleaning supplies are required to keep the house and office in aesthetically pleasing and healthy conditions. Cleaning has obvious cosmetic benefits, but it’s also important for keeping a healthy indoor environment since it gets rid of allergens, infectious agents, and dust. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that cleaning products can raise a number of health and environmental issues. They might have substances in them that can irritate the eyes, skin, or respiratory system, among other things. Additionally, some commercial cleaning chemicals’ concentrated forms are labeled as hazardous, which could pose handling, storage, and disposal problems for users. Using environmentally friendly cleaning supplies helps lessen the risks to human health and the environment that come with cleaning.

Buyers may quickly and readily identify products that are “greener” by using ecolabels. However, it is crucial for customers to exercise caution when interpreting ambiguous or generic statements on items like “green,” “eco safe,” or “environmentally friendly” (also known as “greenwashing”). The EPA oversees the Safer Choice program, which certifies goods that include safer components for human health and the environment, to make it simpler for buyers to select greener cleaning products. On antimicrobial products, such as disinfectants and sanitizers, the EPA also offers the Design for the Environment (DfE) mark in addition to the Safer Choice label.

Concerns about the Environment and Health

NOTE: The information that follows focuses mostly on the risks related to the components of cleaning products. The real dangers posed by these substances at common exposure levels are frequently unknown and, in many instances, probably negligible. However, lowering a product’s inherent hazard is a desired pollution control goal as part of judgments that also take into account other significant product qualities, regardless of the projected risk levels.

  • During routine use, cleaning products are released to the environment through the evaporation of volatile ingredients and the flushing of leftover product from cleaned surfaces, sponges, etc. Concentrated cleaning products may be used by janitors and other cleaning personnel. However, exposure to concentrated cleaning products during handling and usage can be significantly reduced or avoided with proper training and the use of a Chemical Management System (a set of formal processes to assure correct storage, handling, and use).
  • Certain cleaning product chemicals can be poisonous to aquatic creatures in streams receiving improperly managed wastes or hazardous to exposed populations (such as skin and eye irritation in employees) (note that standard sewage treatment effectively reduces or removes most cleaning product constituents). For instance, it has been demonstrated in laboratory tests that alkylphenol ethoxylates, a typical surfactant component in cleaners, work as a “endocrine disrupter,” creating unfavorable reproductive effects of the kinds seen in species exposed to contaminated waters.
  • There is a threat to aquatic life since many surfactants used in traditional goods biodegrade slowly or transform into more toxic, persistent, and bioaccumulative compounds.
  • Nitrogen or phosphorus-containing ingredients can help nutrient loads in water bodies, which can have a negative impact on water quality. However, these contributions are usually negligible in comparison to other point and non-point sources.
  • Cleaning products’ volatile organic compounds (VOC) can have an impact on interior air quality and also help to create smog outdoors.