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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Go green when you clean

STILLWATER, Okla. – The phrase “clean green” has nothing to do with the cleanliness of your money. But it is a call to be more mindful of the products you use to tidy your humble abode.

“We spend the majority of our time indoors, where levels of organic pollutants like the ones released by certain cleaning products, tend to be higher,” said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist. “It just makes sense to pay attention to the quality of the air we breathe.”

Cleaning green could include making your own cleansers from household ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, cornstarch and lemon juice. For instance, 2 tablespoons of borax, 1/4 cup of vinegar and 2 cups of hot water combined in a spray bottle create a handy all-purpose cleaner.

“Mixing up your own sanitizers is a healthy option. The recipes are usually simple to follow and the resulting products are just as effective as anything you can buy,” said Peek.

Still, some will prefer to purchase cleaning products. In that case, be mindful that words such as “natural” or “green” do not necessarily mean the item is nontoxic, safer for the environment or made with less harmful chemicals.

In fact, there is a term for instances in which companies, either on purpose or accidently, make false claims about the environmental friendliness of their products. It is called “greenwashing.”

“It can be hard identifying true ‘green’ cleansers,” Peek said. “Sometimes you have to do some research into what is actually in the product and how it’s made.”

Consumers also can look for products carrying the Green Seal or the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Design for the Environment (DfE) label.

Green Seal, an independent nonprofit that certifies products through credible, science-based, transparent standards, is the most widely used of multiple private-sector “green assurance” programs that use third-party certification.

Meanwhile, DfE works in partnership with industry, academia and environmental groups to reduce risk to people and the environment by trying to find ways to prevent pollution.

More than 2,000 items reflect the DfE logo. Specifically, DfE-labeled products are rigorously reviewed by a DfE scientific team to determine each ingredient’s potential effect on human health and the surrounding environment and whether the product includes only those ingredients posing the least concern among chemicals in their class.

Whether you decide to mix your own cleansers or shop the cleaning supplies aisle at your local grocery store, Peek said the goal is to reduce the grime, dust and pollutants in your home.

“Go ahead, clear the air, so to speak,” she said. “Your family will be healthier for it.”




Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.



Leilana McKindra
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
140 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-6792
Fax: 405-744-5739

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078