Recently an episode of NBC’s “Today” show recommended eight cleaning products for “clean living” that it said were both effective and environmentally friendly. Given EWG’s longstanding work evaluating cleaning products based on the ingredient safety and disclosure in our Guide to Healthy Cleaning, we wanted to see if those choices really make the grade for a healthier lifestyle.
The Guide to Healthy Cleaning, which rates more than 2,500 products, is an online database created to help consumers learn more about the ingredients used in household cleaning products and find options with less toxic ingredients. Products are scored on a scale of A to F, based on the hazards associated with their ingredients and how transparent the manufacturer is about those possible hazards.
Good news: Overall, we were pleased with the show’s recommendations. Our guide scores most of the products A or B. Here are the recommended products and our scores:
“Today” recommended two laundry products:
- Biokleen Free & Clear Laundry Liquid. EWG’s score: A.
- Eco Nuts Organic Laundry Soap. EWG’s score: N/A.
Eco Nuts Organic Laundry Soap isn’t in our database, but the product’s only ingredient is deseeded organic fruit of the Indian soapberry tree. Soap berries, sometimes called soap nuts, contain saponin, a natural cleaning agent that washes dirt and stains from fabrics. They are an excellent alternative to dangerous and poorly degradable conventional detergents.
The Guide to Healthy Cleaning rates almost 1,000 laundry products. Click here to see the 8.5 percent that score an A.
“Today” recommended three all-purpose cleaners:
- Common Good All-Purpose Cleaner, Bergamot. EWG’s score: A.
- Biokleen Bac-Out Stain + Odor Remover, Foaming Action. EWG’s score: B.
- Seventh Generation All-Purpose Cleaner, Free & Clear. EWG’s score: C.
We give Seventh Generation’s All-Purpose Cleaner a fairly low score because it contains the preservative methylisothiazolinone, which is linked to serious allergic reactions.
Our guide currently rates more than 600 all-purpose cleaners. To see the more than 150 that score As or Bs, click here.
For carpet cleaning, “Today” recommended one product:
- Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds Cleaner. EWG’s score: A.
All the Dr. Bronner’s products in our database score an A or B. They can be diluted to make a variety of cleaning products.
Only 7 percent of the carpet cleaners and stain removers rated in our guide score As. Click here to see the four carpet products.
To clean toilets, "Today" Show recommended this product:
- Seventh Generation Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Emerald Cypress & Fir. EWG’s score: A.
Our guide rates 74 toilet bowl cleaners. Currently only four score an A – this Seventh Generation product, along with three others.
“Today” recommended this reusable microfiber cloth:
- E-Cloth Microfiber Towels. EWG’s score: N/A
Our guide does not score towels. However, we recommend consumers consider using reusable towels such as this one. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, a vast majority of tissue products sold in North America come from boreal forests, adversely affecting wildlife and climate. A reusable towel is more sustainable and can help save money.
Note: Manufacturers frequently change product formulations. The product scores shown here reflect our most recent assessment of these products. The formulations may have since changed. Also, the formulation in the product you are using may differ from the version in our guide. Match the ingredients on your product to what we have reflected in the guide to ensure that the product is the same.
You can read more about EWG’s methodology and how products are scored here.