By now many of you have probably heard of ‘greenwashing’, the practice by which businesses or organizations present an environmentally friendly image without backing it up with concrete green credentials. BP’s green flower logo and ‘Beyond Petroleum’ slogan are blatant examples of greenwashing. Perhaps even more bewildering and maddening is the fact that the production of certain types of so-called biofuels can result in more greenhouse gas emissions and environmental destruction than that of fossil fuels.

But what about actual green washing – as in cleaning our homes, clothes and bodies in environmentally friendly ways?

According to a piece in the Independent, what’s green or environmentally friendly, in terms of household cleaning products, isn’t always that simple.

Mick Bremans, chief executive of Ecover – the king of green cleaning – suggests that it’s actually their intent and effort to make products with the least amount of negative impact on the environment as possible that gives them credibility:

In fact, Bremans is making the point that no product, be it a lavatory cleaner, a hybrid car or a locally sourced punnet of strawberries, is technically environmentally friendly. Everything we make takes its toll on the planet in production and leaves its mark when disposed of. Instead, Ecover describes its products as “ecological”, to communicate that they are kinder to the environment than comparable products.


Those are pretty fair statements, though I wonder how much we actually need strong cleaners in the home anyway.

From another article in the Independent:

For completely toxin-free and natural cleaning products, websites such as World Watch advocate making solutions out of common household items such as vinegar.

That’s right – regular, natural, inexpensive vinegar (white, not balsamic). It absorbs odors, is an effective glass cleaner, fights mold and mildew, and is a great fabric-softener. Baking soda is another good household cleaner.

No one is claiming (I hope) that you can disinfect surgical equipment with lemon juice, but rather that the need for potentially harmful, industrial strength cleaners and deodorizers in the home – such as bleach and chemical air fresheners – has been highly overstated by the companies selling these products.

For more tips on greener and safer products for everyday cleaning see this article from EmaxHealth:

Green Home Cleaners Can Replace Cancer Causing Chemicals

Additional resources:

Worldwatch Institute – Cleaning Products: What’s Behind the Shine?

Tennessee journalist – Five easy ways to help the Gulf