|Term||What it Means||The Bottom Line|
|Bio-Degradable||The product will break down over time into harmless materials.||Doesn't mean the product is safe for the environment unless the manufacturer says how long it will take it to biodegrade. The sooner, the better.|
|Chlorine-Free||Contains no chlorine, a toxic chemical responsible for more household poisonings annually then any other and a cause of ozone depletion.||Opt for chlorine-free versions of all cleaners and stop cleaning with chlorine bleach, for your health and the environment's.|
|Nontoxic||Only a very large amount will cause damage.||Use of the term isn't regulated, so choose products from manufacturers that indicate in what way products are nontoxic ("non-toxic if inhaled," for example).|
|Oxygenated||Helps whiten and brighten by releasing oxygen, which breaks up stains and eliminates mildew.||Safer than chlorine bleach. Oxygenated products may not work as quickly as chlorine-based products, but they are effective when you follow label directions.|
|Phosphate-Free||Contains no phosphates (which increase a detergent's effectiveness).||When phosphates enter waterways, they spur algae to overgrow, depleting oxygen and killing fish. A meaningless marketing term. Phosphates are banned by law in all cleaning products except automatic dishwasher detergents.|
|Surfactants||The active cleaning agent in detergents.||Conventional products often use petroleum-based surfactants. Opt for surfactants described as plant-based; these are a better choice for the environment.|
Why Choose Non Toxic?
While there are many effective household cleaning products available in your local supermarket or discount store, you may see some surprising ingredients if you read the label closely.
Many of these products contain harmful chemicals such as chlorine bleach, ammonia, petrochemicals, and VOC's. It is risky to have these chemicals in your home in the case of accidental ingestion or physical contact. Breathing the fumes of some chemicals, especially over time, can be damaging to your health. In addition, small amounts of residual product can be left on surfaces or in the air following cleaning, adversely affecting your home's air quality.
Important reasons to consider using nontoxic cleaning products such as those available from Natural Choices:
- Protect children & pets from accidental poisoning
- Protect yourself (or the primary cleaner of the house) from contact with these ingredients
- Protect your home's indoor air quality
Disposal of Toxic Cleaning Products
It is important to properly dispose of any leftover toxic cleaning products after switching to nontoxic. Improper disposal, such as pouring them down the drain, on the ground outside, into storm sewers, or throwing them out in the trash can pollute the environment and pose a threat to human health. Many communities across the country offer options for safely disposing of toxic cleaning products, known also as "household hazardous waste." Check with your local environmental, health, or solid waste agency for information.
The EPA suggests the following options for disposing of your toxic cleaning products:
- See if your community has a facility that collects household hazardous waste year-round.
- Check if there are designated days in your area for collecting solid waste at a central location.
- You may be able to drop off certain products at local businesses for recycling or proper disposal.
- Always read product labels for proper disposal instructions.
- For more information on disposing household hazardous waste, visit the EPA's website.
Understanding the Label Lingo