Is Your Home Being Greenwashed?

The movement of “Green Cleaning” has been adopted by so many of us with the increasing reports of cancer causing agents found in most common chemical based household cleaners. What’s more likely to be an issue, however is the respiratory, hormone, and immunity effects these cleaners have on you and your children. Mayo Clinic reports decreased lung function due to using chemical household cleaners and another study is circulating reporting an equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day in individuals who have used common household chemical cleaners in their occupation or regularly in their home over a 10-20 year span. Of course there are always 2 sides to every story so let’s dig a little deeper.

So maybe you already know the dangerous side effects or potentially serious long term effects chemical cleaners can have and you’ve made the switch to a “green” or “natural” cleaning product line. Good for you! Feels good to have tossed out the scary products and replaced them with good smelling, products that are safe! Or did you?? You might have THOUGHT you were using a natural cleaner, but you could be a victim of greenwashing.

What’s Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is a term used when a green marketing campaign deceptively uses phrases or key words to promote the PERCEPTION that an organizations products, aims, or policies are environmentally friendly.

It goes way beyond companies that are labeling cleaning products in a way that make you THINK they are safer. There’s so much advertising about being an environmentally friendly eating establishment to draw in those who are advocates of saving the Earth and using resources wisely. They promote practices such as no longer offering plastic straws, but if you look behind the scenes you’ll see they aren’t recycling everyday items or are cleaning the dishes and tables you eat from with harmful chemicals. Even beyond that are major energy corporations marketing themselves as the first to use 100% renewable energy, yet they don’t advertise they are still providing fossil fuel energy as well making their claim to be fully reliant on renewable energy false. Greenwashing America.

The Face-off

So now you know that you need to dig a little deeper to find out if the products you use in your home are safe, at what level, and to check for greenwashing. Here are just a few ways you can do this. You can read and research every ingredient on a bottle to know if they are safe. Alternately, you can use an app like ThinkDirty to get a detailed explanation of what’s in the product and how safe it is much faster. Or you can go to the Environmental Working Group website and find out a whole lot about the safety of a certain product- not just cleaning products.

One product that I was greenwashed by was Mrs. Meyers Multi-surface Cleaner. I’ve seen so much advertisement about the green company and the products smell amazing! They advertise to be aromatherapeutic to boot and this one comes in basil scent. Well alright! Sounded good to me in the store. I later learned that aromatherapeutic isn’t really a term, the bottle says basil scented which should have been a red flag since we don’t use products with fragrance, and if I read the ingredients all the way I would have known the statement this cleaner is a “naturally fresh way to clean your home” wasn’t true at all. My mind was tricked by pairing aromatherapeutic with the big basil label in the center thinking it was essential oil based, not fragrance based. I also didn’t read past the first few ingredients so I didn’t notice all of the really bad ingredients were listed last. I understood this company to be a healthy alternative to what I was currently using so I wasn’t looking for the proof otherwise.

When I did some research on the products at the advise of a friend, I saw the score on ThinkDirty was 8 out of 10 and 10 is BAD! It’s high in fragrance and 11 of the 17 ingredients scored a C or D for health. It goes on to explain that a score in this range may cause hormone disruption, reproductive issues, systemic toxins, neurotoxins, triggers asthma, lowers immunity, and aids to allergy suffering. Only 4 ingredients are listed as safe- one of them being water! It also states it’s not considered a green cleaner.

I looked up the same product on the Environmental Working Group website and it scored it as a C. It reports some concern for asthma and respiratory safety, skin allergies, and irritation. It also goes on to report that it’s moderately unhealthy for the environment. The final statement says “May contain ingredients with potential for acute aquatic toxicity; nervous system effects, skin irritation, and allergies.” Wow! Okay, so that’s going in the trash too. What do I use now?

I had a packet of Young Living Thieves Household Cleaner that came with my essential oils kit that I never opened. I started looking at the ingredients and did some research to find out if this was just another ploy to greenwash America or if it could be a viable alternative to everything we’ve tried so far. What I found was pretty impressive. If you do a Google search for Thieves VS household cleaners, you’ll see thousands of experiments and research conducted to determine the effectiveness of essential oils used to clean even better than common household cleaners without the harmful effects.

Thieves Household Cleaner is derived of plant based ingredients (mostly from coconut) and essential oils of clove, lemon, cinnamon, rosemary, and eucalyptus. That’s it. No chemicals, no harmful side effects, no secrets about the safety of using it. On the contrary, it helps build your immune system because all of the essential oils used in it that naturally support immune health.

What’s even better, is this one cleaner can be used for all of your household cleaning needs. It can be diluted to clean glass and furniture, it can be amped up to clean greasy messes, and it can be added to an abrasive to get to scrubbing tough grime.

The best part about living in a technology era is the ability to have knowledge that gives you power to choose what’s best for you and your family. Using a better, safer product to clean your home may not prevent any of these health concerns from happening to anyone in your home, but for us we made the choice to give it our best shot to live our most healthy lives!


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