A few months ago I read an article in some parenting magazine (take your pick of the half dozen I collect at random locations) about the dangers of cleaning solvents on countertops. Or rather, the danger it poses for kids...not actually for countertops. While of course I'm not washing the girls' hands off with bleach or anything, I hadn't ever really thought about cleaners getting on their hands just from touching the countertops. I do try to be careful. Since I started showering with Jules, I stopped spraying the shower with cleaner after we're done because I don't want her to breathe the fumes (even though it's really put a wrinkle in my cleaning routine). Sometimes I can't even get my mind around all the cautionary tales given to parents about poisons, and pesticides, and cleanicides, and electricides and whoknowswhatcides. What's worse? The cleaner or the germs?
So, I stopped using those handy dandy Clorox wipes to clean the kitchen and started using regular soap and water. I doubt it's as effective, but it can't be all bad. Sure, there are "Green" cleaning products out there that are safe for kids but bad for germs. The thing is, I'm pretty skeptical about cleaners that call themselves "Green." To me, if you can eat it (baking soda, vinegar) it's green. If you can't eat it, then I don't know.
Nevertheless, I found myself at the store one day looking at the shelves of All Natural cleaning products. Sydney and I had a good discussion about the merits of All Natural products.
Me: Should I get this new cleaning product?
Syd: I want the pink bottle.
Me: The pink bottle has poison in it. It'll melt the polar ice caps...or hurt the salmon...or something.
Me: What do you think?
Syd: I like the pink one.
Yep. We're deep thinkers around here. In the end, I didn't get anything.
The one I had thought about getting--Clorox GreenWorks--seemed like it might be okay. It wasn't more expensive than the other cleaners, and it listed all the ingredients in the product, which a lot of other cleaners don't since it's not required. Somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind, I recalled hearing that GreenWorks was safer around children than other cleaners. And according to the GreenWorks website, it's better for the environment too.
For reasons that might have involved a screaming baby in the grocery cart, I didn't end up purchasing GreenWorks that day I saw it at the store, but then I managed to score myself a free bottle of the Natural All-Purpose Cleaner (and the Natural Glass and Surface Cleaner) through Mom Central so I could try it out and see how it works.
As far as how it works? Well, it works just fine. It cleans up nicely, has a sweet little lemony fragrance, and the glass cleaner doesn't leave any streaks. It didn't leave any residue on the countertops, a common problem I have with some cleaning products. I've been using it in the kitchen and bathroom all week and don't have any complaints.
As far as it being natural and eco-friendly? It got an endorsement from Sierra Club, and is recognized by the EPA for its safer chemistry. That's cool. However, as this San Francisco Chronicle article (that I found thanks to The Not Quite Crunchy Parent) makes an interesting point:
...some other activist groups raised questions about Clorox's overall environmental commitment - given that its Green Works products remain outnumbered by its conventional cleaners.
"We'd like to see them incorporate these practices into all their products," said Erin Thompson, campaign organizer for Women's Voices for the Earth, a Montana-based group that advocates for fewer chemicals in cleaning products. "Why sell one set of products that have hazardous ingredients and others that don't?"
Nevertheless, a step in the right direction is still a good step. Maybe I'm not cynical enough to be skeptical about Big Businesses...selling Green products...at Walmart. I'm just happy that there's a natural (or at least, more natural than the other stuff) cleaning product that I can buy at the store.
Tips for cleaning Green:
- National Geographic's Green Guide indicating top cleaning products to avoid (hint: get plant-based cleaners)
- Women's Voices for the Earth has a report of household hazards.
- Bay Area Pollution Prevention Guide has a brochure indicating Safe Cleaning Practices.
- check out my friend Erin's post about natural cleaning products.
At any rate, I think it's important to think about the stuff we clean with. So, there's my speech about that.
ON A TOTALLY UNRELATED NOTE, it's March and you know what that means? NCAA tournament time! I'll be hosting my traditional bracket, so be ready.
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