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Green cleaning agents

You don’t want to eat chemicals in your food—so why would you want to clean your counters, dust your furniture, and wash your clothes with them? The nonprofit Environmental Media Services recommends eschewing household cleaning products with chlorine, phosphates, alkylphenols, and volatile organic compounds. Instead, look for products that are biodegradable and use plant-based ingredients, not petrochemicals. These nontoxic products work just as well, if not better, than conventional cleansers and detergents. Need help deciding? The following five cleansers score high marks on both clean and green.

5 natural options

What it is

Key ingredients

Why it's special

Ecos Earth Friendly Furniture Polish

Olive oil, orange oil

This fantastic, nonaerosol polish brings out wood furniture’s natural gleam. Works great on wood, paneling, and vinyl. Its citrus scent makes polishing furniture more of a treat than a chore.

Eco-Products All Purpose Cleaner

Vegetable-based surfactants, orange oil

Orange oil is a powerful degreaser and works especially well in the kitchen. Citrus oils don’t strip protective sealants the way many chemical products do, and they dissolve hard-to-remove stains in a flash.

Ecover Ecological Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Plant-based surfactants, citric acid, plant-based lactic acid, citrate, plant-based fragrance

This toilet cleaner is safe for all septic systems and easily removes scum and mineral stains. The bona fide pine scent adds a nice woodsy note to your bathroom.

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Laundry Detergent, Geranium Scent

Plant-based surfactants, cotton extract, borax, enzymes, essential oils of geranium, rose, and clove

This detergent infuses clothes with the scent of fragrant flowers. In other words, it’s sublime, not overbearing like most detergents. You may even look forward to doing your laundry.

Seventh Generation Natural Glass & Surface Cleaner

Vegetable-based surfactants

This cleaner is part of Seventh Generation’s Free & Clear line, so it doesn’t have any perfumes or dyes—perfect for those who suffer from chemical sensitivities. Its dual use as a glass and surface cleaner saves you under-the-sink real estate.

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