Healthy Cleaning Guide: Best and Worst Cleaning Products

Sarah B. Weir, Yahoo! blogger
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How healthy are your cleaners?
How healthy are your cleaners?

Even some cleaning products billed as being "green" contain dangerous chemicals a new guide released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports. "Quite a few cleaning products that line store shelves are packed with toxic chemicals that can wreak havoc with your health, including many that harm the lungs," EWG senior scientist Rebecca Sutton said in statement. "The good news is, there are plenty of cleaning products that will get the job done without exposing you to hazardous substances."

EWG analyzed over 2000 household cleaning products and rated them for safety. They found that over 53% of the products tested contained chemicals that are harmful to the lungs and 22% can trigger asthma. Some common cleaners contain formaldehyde and chloroform, known human carcinogens. Drain and oven cleaners often use caustic chemicals that can burn the eyes and skin.

They also found many products don't adequately reveal their ingredients. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires labeling on food, cosmetics, and drugs but according to EWG, cleaning products can use general terms such as "solvent" or "surfactant." They estimate that only seven percent of cleaners fully disclose their contents.

EWG's Worst Products List

EWG created a "hall of shame" for their worst rated products. They based their low grades on a number of factors including toxicity, inadequate labeling, and "greenwashing"--which means false claims that products are environmentally friendly and do not pose health risks. Some of these cleaners contain chemicals that are banned abroad. Click on Hall of Shame for specific information on each product.

Simple Green Concentrated Cleaner

Mop and Glo Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner

Target's Up and Up Toilet Cleaner

Whink Rust Stain Remover

Citra-Solv Cleaner and Degreaser

Spic and Span Multi-Surface and Floor Cleaner

Scrubbing Bubbles Anti-Bacterial Bathroom Cleaner and Extend-a-Clean Mega Shower Foamer

DampRid Mildew Stain Remover Plus Blocker

Easy-Off Fume Free Over Cleaner

Drano Extra Strength Kitchen Crystals Clog Remover

Walmart Great Value Heavy Duty Oven Cleaner

CVS Fume Free Oven Cleaner

Easy-Off Heavy Duty Oven Cleaner Aerosol Spray

Glade Air Freshener

Air Wick Air Freshener

Spot Shots Stain Remover

Lysol Disinfectant Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner

2000 Flushes Toilet Bowl Cleaner

X-14 Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Hagarty Liquid Jewel Clean

Ajax, Dynamo, and Fab Ultra Liquid Laundry Detergents

Static Guard

Final Touch Ultra Liquid Fabric Softener

Clorox, Fantastik, Febreze, Formula 409, Easy-Off, Lysol, Mr. Clean and Spic and Span spray cleaners

Comet Disinfectant Cleanser Powder

Lysol Neutra Air Freshmatic

Air Wick Freshmatic Compact

Febreze and Glade Automatic Air Fresheners

EWG's Top Rated Cleaning Products

Their top rated products include:

Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwasher Detergent Concentrated Pacs, Free & Clear

Method Smarty Dishwasher Detergent

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Automatic Dishwasher Detergent

Whole Foods Liquid Dish Soap

Aussan Natural All Purpose Cleaner

Green Shield Organic Bathroom Cleaner

Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Bathroom Cleaner

Seventh Generation Tub and Tile Cleaner

Whole Food Market Glass Cleaner

Green Shield Organic Glass Cleaner

Martha Stewart Clean Wood Floor Cleaner

Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda Detergent

Lysol Cling on Toilet Bowl Deodorizer and Cleaner

Seventh Generation Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner

As a general rule, EWG recommends consumers avoid purchasing any product labeled "danger" or "harmful if swallowed." They also discourage the use of antibacterial cleaners since they may encourage the development of antibiotics resistant superbugs. For more information and the complete 2000-product guide, check out their website