What are green cleaning products?
In the beginning …
First there was just water for cleaning, then soap was invented around 2800 BC.
Early soaps were made from animal and vegetable fats and oils. When fats or oils, which contain fatty acids, are mixed with a strong alkali like lye (a.k.a., potash), the alkali first splits the fats or oils into their two major parts fatty acids and glycerin. After this splitting of the fats or oils, the sodium or potassium part of the lye joins with the fatty acid part of the fat or oils. This combination is then the potassium or sodium salt of the fatty acid. This is soap.Glycerin is a by-product.
Detergents were invented due to a shortage of animal and vegetable fats during World War I.
The primary ingredient in most detergents is a surfactant. Surfactant molecules have two ends, one repels water and is attracted to oil, dirt and grease, and the other end is attracted to water molecules. When combined with the mechanical action of wiping or scrubbing, the tugging action of the surfactant loosens the dirt or grease and suspends it in the water.
Like most surfactants today, the first surfactants were made from petroleum -- which is originally toxic, flammable and non-renewable.
Other dangerous chemicals commonly found in conventional cleaning products are: chlorine bleach which when accidentally mixed with cleaners containing ammonia (like glass cleaners or dish-washer detergents) or strong acid-based products like toilet bowl cleaners produces chloramine gas -- highly irritating and potentially damaging to the lungs. Products containing chlorine bleach usually also contain trace amounts of organochlorines that cause cancer in animals and are expected to do so in humans.
The three most dangerous cleaners found in many homes are: drain cleaners, oven cleaners and toilet bowl cleaners.
Why? Because they are CORROSIVE (and usually labeled as such). Corrosive products may burn skin or eyes and, if ingested, cause internal burns.
Alternatives include: Easy-off non caustic formula, Bon Ami, baking soda, Soft Scrub (without bleach), and, for your toilets, optionsforlife Tub & Tile Cleaner.
Green Cleaning Products
Remember the primary ingredient in most cleaning products? Surfactants.
Surfactants today are either petroleum-derived (bad) or plant-derived (good) or synthetic (just as good). Surfactants in green cleaners are usually plant-derived. Other key ingredients in green cleaners may be plant-derived, mineral derived (such as sodium carbonate) or synthetic. The plants used are most commonly oranges, corn and coconuts. And, quite the opposite of petroleum, these plants are non toxic, non-flammable, renewable and biodegradable.
Some ingredients that you should not find in green cleaners:
phosphates or derivatives
EDTA or NTA (used to dissolve scale)
alkylphenol ethoxylates (NPE, et al.)
Frequently asked questions
Are green cleaning products as effective as conventional cleaning products?
First, not all green cleaners are equal. There are definitely ones that clean better than others. With optionsforlife cleaners, however, the answer is yes, 95% of the time. And, neutral pH optionsforlife Multi-surface Cleaner, won’t dull or scratch fine surfaces as many conventional cleaners may do over time.
Do optionsforlife cleaners contain any chemicals?
Some people make the mistake of thinking that a “chemical” is automatically toxic or otherwise bad. Water is a chemical made up of hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Everything, in fact, is a chemical of some sort. So, yes, optionsforlife cleaners contain chemicals; chemicals like water and plant- and mineral-based ingredients that used as directed are non-toxic to humans and are biodegradable.
Are optionsforlife cleaners safe for people with asthma and other allergies?
optionsforlife soap and detergent products are hypoallergenic, meaning they are designed to reduce or minimize the possibility of an allergic response by containing relatively few or no potentially irritating substances. Non-scented optionsforlife household and commercial cleaners are safer for allergy sufferers and asthmatics because they do not contain common substances like ammonia, chlorine bleach and strong fragrances that can trigger allergic or asthmatic reactions.
Unfortunately for asthma sufferers, cleaning can be problematic more commonly because of exposure to that which is being cleaned. Dust mites, molds, smoke residue, cockroach droppings, animal allergens and other substances can cause inflammation of the lungs’ airways or tightening of the airways’ muscles.
Many other cleaning and cleaning product-related questions are answered on the optionsforlife Weblog. Click here.