Friday, 13 August 2010

Restocking Your Cleaning Cabinet

There are thousands of conventional cleaning products out there — and hundreds more nontoxic, green alternatives. The first rule of making a green cleaning cabinet is that you don't need a different product for every cleaning task; green cleaning products are usually very versatile. A basic green cleaning kit — whether it consists of store-bought products or homemade solutions (see the Recipes chapter) — should include an all-purpose cleanser, a liquid soap, a nonchlorine bleach, and a heavier-duty cleaner for tough jobs.

When you're shopping for any type of cleaning product, read the label. Watch for federally mandated signal words — "poison," "warning," and "caution" — which indicate differ­ent levels of hazard, "poison" being the most dangerous. Chemically based commercial products almost never list their ingredients; to find out what's actually in them, visit the National Library of Medicine's Household Products Database at

On green cleaning products, look for the basics: "nontoxic," "biode­gradable," "recyclable." (But note that these terms, as well as more generic words like "natural" and "environmentally friendly" have no legal definition.) You might also look for products that are free of dyes, fragrance, and phosphates.

Green cleaning products usually include a list of ingredients; such a list is a good way to know the manufacturer has nothing to hide.

Also consider the packaging. Can it be reused or recycled? Is it made of recycled materials? Is it excessive? To reduce waste, buy cleaning prod­ucts in bulk, or in refillable bottles.

The Right Kind of Paper Towel

Look for paper towels and other paper products that are made of recycled paper and that have not been treated with chlorine bleach in their manufacture. To reduce waste, opt for reusable cloths or sponges over paper towels wherever possible.


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