Home Cleaning with Care


Karen’s Intro - Hi, I’m Karen. Welcome to Conscious Choice Podcast...episode six is about Home Cleaning with Care.


Here at the Conscious Choice Podcast we provide listeners with ideas for living a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle. In each episode we talk about an eco-conscious topic and share three choices that you could adopt into your daily life. We believe that taking tiny steps together will make a big impact on the environment. Let's show Mother Earth how much we love and appreciate her, one conscious choice at a time.


The content for today’s episode could not be more timely or relevant. We are all experiencing the effects of a global pandemic, which could be viewed as a hardship, but we also see how the world is coming together. We are proud to see the generosity and stewardship that we have for each other.


Jenny’s Intro - Absolutely! Thank you Karen. This is Jenny the Eco-Mom. I completely agree that it’s an unprecedented time, and at the same time feel proud of how we are doing our best to help each other. So happy to be here today! It feels good to make a positive impact on the environment and the planet.


Our podcast can be found on iTunes, Spotify, iHeart Radio and on social channels - IG, FB, LinkedIn, YouTube...so go find us - Conscious Choice Podcast!


This episode's topic is Home Cleaning with Care, and as usual, here are the three choices we propose to you on your sustainability journey:


  1. Be informed. Take a moment to explore the differences between natural, organic, nontoxic, green terms and labels.

  2. Lessen your home cleaning supply toxic load. Choose nontoxic products at your next purchase.

  3. Share with friends. It’s fun to share what you learn and pass it along to those you care about. If they are open to hearing what you’ve learned, give it a share.

Lots of brands claim to be “natural” or “organic,” but knowing the difference between products that are truly organic, nontoxic, and better for the environment and those that simply claim to be “green” can require a level of expertise most shoppers don’t have or care to acquire. You’d think you could just check the ingredient list, but unfortunately, there are still no federal regulations forcing manufacturers to list the ingredients in their products on packaging (though California and New York have both recently passed disclosure laws).

This article is a great resource for the laws in place in California and Nevada, and we called out some important points: Cleaning Product Manufacturers Gear Up for Compliance with State Ingredient Disclosure Laws

Over the next year, California and New York will begin phasing in requirements for manufacturers of cleaning products – including household cleaners, as well as and clothes and dish detergents – to make extensive ingredient disclosures. This will eventually require disclosures on both product labels and manufacturer websites. Both laws involve complex questions regarding which ingredients must be disclosed, whether certain chemical identities may be withheld to protect confidential business information (CBI), and what else must be publicly disclosed (e.g., certain manufacturer studies). Manufacturers of in-scope products should gear up for compliance now.

Scope of Cleaning Products Covered

The California Cleaning Products Right to Know Act applies to general cleaning products (e.g., soaps and detergents for fabric, dishes, counters, and appliances); polish or floor maintenance products; certain air care products (e.g., indoor air fresheners); certain automotive products (e.g., cleaning, polishing, or waxing products for the exterior or interior of automobiles). The law does not apply to food; drugs; cosmetics (including personal care items such as shampoo, hand soap, and toothpaste); or industrial products specifically manufactured for, and exclusively used in, certain industries.

The New York law applies to products “containing a surfactant as a wetting or dirt emulsifying agent and used primarily for domestic or commercial cleaning purposes, including but not limited to the cleansing of fabrics, dishes, food utensils, and household and commercial premises.” The definition contains exclusions for food; drugs; cosmetics; and pesticides.

And consumer advocacy groups can’t always keep up with the influx of new products.

One way to ensure that you know what’s in your cleaning products is to make them yourself.

Ask any green-living expert or organic devotee, and they’ll tell you that the best natural cleaning products are regular white vinegar and baking soda, with a little lemon or orange thrown in. For most of us, however, that’s not an option. If you don’t want to mix and bottle your own cleaning products, or would like something with a more pleasant smell, there are many, many choices. We consulted experts ranging from authors, bloggers, TV hosts, and eco-conscious cleaning services on which kitchen sprays, laundry detergents, and all-purpose baking-soda scrubs are actually healthier for us, the planet, and our homes.

Here are some products recommended by Jenny (and will soon be tested by Karen!):

MADE SAFE® (which can be found at www.madesafe.org) is America’s first nontoxic seal for products we use every day, from baby to personal care to household and beyond. We certify that products you use on your body, with your family, and in your home are made with safe ingredients not known or suspected to harm human health.

Our goal is to change the way products are made in this country for the healthier. Brands can work with them to obtain a Seal with which their products are intensively reviewed.

Made Safe Hazard List - go to website to learn about all of them.

Amy Ziff, Founder and Executive Director, is a healthy living educator with a genetic predisposition to toxicity. She’s also mom to three young kids who share the same trait. Determined to make the world less toxic, Amy reached millions of parents and caregivers with her “buy better” advocacy campaigns. She blogs about the chemical world we live in on Amy Ziff’s NoTox Life, and prior to founding MADE SAFE®, taught classes on living a nontoxic life and co-founded the Veritey Shop, a site comprised of safe, nontoxic products. Amy is changing the world for the healthier one product at a time, one person at a time, one home at a time.


Amy has a Masters in Journalism and Communications and has been a successful internet entrepreneur. She was on the founding team of Site59 where she pioneered the first luxury business line for travel on the web. When Site59 was acquired by Travelocity, she ran a national sales team and then founded an award-winning media program, blog, and travel seal that garnered millions of dollars of “earned media” annually, and also founded the company’s award-winning cause marketing program. Amy went on to co-found and become creative director of Jetsetter, the first online flash-sale for high-end travel.


If you’re trying to disinfect surfaces, ensure that your cleaner of choice has the right ingredients needed to get rid of germs – surprisingly, many do not. Check out Seventh Generation’s line of products that contain thymol. Thymol can be found in several botanical oils.


Thymol, a component of the botanical thyme oil, when used as a disinfectant active ingredient on Seventh Generation disinfection products, kills 99.99% of household germs.


Thymol, is an ingredient derived from common culinary herbs like thyme and others and is known for its antimicrobial properties. Many botanical oils from herbs, including thymol, have been used for thousands of years in Roman, Greek, and Indian medicine as antiseptic agents.


And again, do your research and rely on the CDC to recommend the best cleaners for germ control.

Be mindful of your one-time use product consumption, plus your paper waste. Lots of cleaning products are one-time use (wipes, towels, etc.) so consider using rags and washing them. If you’re concerned about running out of toilet paper (or if you want to reduce your paper waste), get a bidet!


CleanWell - How do our disinfectant sprays and wipes kill 99.9% of household germs? We harnessed the power of the mother of all clean: nature. Plus, we test every product like there’s no tomorrow. All of our products are made with Thymol, an active, botanically derived ingredient that’s a natural antiseptic and breaks down quickly, so it doesn’t harm our ecosystem. (Did you know Seventh Generation Disinfecting Spray Cleaners and Wipes use our CleanWell Inside(R) proprietary disinfecting technology? Pair that with the cleaning power from Seventh Generation’s 25-plus years of leadership in making a difference and you get the safe, effective clean you expect.)

Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products:

Method Smarty Dish Dishwasher Detergent Tabs

The Claim: Biodegradable and free of phosphates, chlorine, ammonia, and petroleum distillates. The lightweight packaging uses 87 percent less plastic than traditional rigid plastic containers.

Bon Ami Liquid Cleanser

The Claim: Biodegradable and free of phosphates and chlorine. The packaging is made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic.

Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Glass Cleaner

The Claim: Skips ammonia (a potentially toxic irritant) in favor of plant-based cleaning agents sourced from sustainable coconut-palm-oil farms. Free of phosphates, chlorine, and petroleum distillates.

Method Floor + Surface Cleaner

The Claim: Biodegradable and free of phosphates, chlorine, and petroleum distillates. The packaging is made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled material.

Caldrea Dish Soap Liquid

The Claim: Biodegradable and free of phosphates, chlorine, and petroleum distillates. Plant-based cleaning agents are sourced from certified sustainable palm-oil farms.

Bill by Eco-Me All-Purpose Cleaner

The Claim: Uses only ingredients that are food-grade and plant-sourced, such as vinegar and sugar-based cleaning agents. Free of phosphates, chlorine, and petroleum distillates.

Green Works Oxi Stain Remover

The Claim: An oxygen-based bleaching agent helps make this cleaner versatile, biodegradable, and non-allergenic.


Bon Ami, known as an effective yet gentle household scrub, was recommended by two experts — Saudia Davis of Best of New York GreenHouse Eco-Cleaning and Cindy DiPrima of CAP Beauty — who use it as a scrubbing powder for everything from counter tops and bathtubs to floor tiles and kitchen sinks when they need something stronger than plain baking soda. “I use Bon Ami, which has been around forever, and has a very simple ingredient deck,” DiPrima says. Bon Ami’s ingredients include limestone, feldspar, soda ash, baking soda, and a surfactant called alkylbenzene sulfonic acid.


In the same universe as Bon Ami is Meliora’s line of gentle cleaning scrubs. This one has the refreshing scent of peppermint and tea tree. “I like this product because it adds that extra kick to your cleaning power and can be used on several surfaces, including stainless steel, stove tops, and ceramic tiles,” says Gay Browne, author of Living With a Green Heart. “It’s tough, yet gentle and the peppermint–tea tree scent is a pleasant alternative to simple baking soda.”


Micaela Preston of mindfulmomma.com recommends this plant-based cleaner that she says works just as well as the chemical-filled ones. She’s a big fan of Better Life’s all-purpose spray, but the company also makes a stainless-steel polish, a product that not many other natural cleaning brands carry.

As anyone who’s ever read a Dr. Bronner’s label knows, their line of liquid Castile soaps are truly all-purpose. Of all the brand’s products, Preston recommends Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner. It’s powerful enough to clean your floors, dishes, furniture, and even your car, but gentle enough not to irritate your skin. Dilute as needed and marvel at how far you can stretch this stuff.

But when she does buy something from a brand it’s Ecover’s dish soap. Jen Brady, chief green mama at Green Baby Deals, also suggests Ecover dish soap, saying that it scores an “A” on the Environmental Working Group, a green resource for consumers, and is gentle on hands but tough on dishes.

For tougher greasier areas like stove tops, Val Oliveira, CEO of Val’s Services, a cleaning company in Chicago, recommends Krud Kutter Degreaser. It’s both water-based and nontoxic, and it’s safe for children, pets, and the environment. “It makes our job easier every day, allowing our cleaners to cut through the inevitable accumulation of dirt, grime, and grease quickly,” Oliveira says.

Karen: what about well-known basic products like vinegar and baking soda? Do you recommend them?

Jenny: Oh yes! These two staples are easy to use for home cleaning. There are so many recipes you can find on-line to create what you need, and serve multiple purposes.

I also use non-chlorine bleach, and in fact used some to clean my kitchen this past weekend.

What I would also advise is that you find glass jars to mix and use your cleaning products. You can use tempered glass for safety, and even the colored glass will help with resisting evaporation.

Thank you, and reach out to us with questions, comments, and suggestions - and tell your friends!


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