Low-VOC Cleaning Products

Clean Up Your Act With Low-VOC Cleaning Products

When you clean house do you dirty the air? Cleaning the toilet, using dish and laundry detergent, mopping the floors and scrubbing the countertops are necessary chores, but choosing the wrong products can unnecessarily pollute the air. Many cleaning products release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a major component in the formation of ozone or smog.

In fact, with the exception of getting vehicles off the road, using low or no VOC cleaning products can reduce more emissions than any other environmentally-sound act.

What to Look for in Low-VOC Cleaning Products

There are a couple of key characteristics and ingredients to look for in a low-VOC cleaning product. Nontoxic, biodegradable, sodium citrate, bicarbonate, carbonate or silicate, and vegetable-based surfactants and solvents (pine and citrus oils contain VOCs,but at lower amounts than many products) are all descriptions used in safer cleaning products.

Certain products, which contain the highest concentrations of VOCs, include toilet bowl cleaners, oven cleaners, furniture polish, and automatic dishwasher, and laundry detergents. While many of these products are required for home cleaning and maintenance, there are many components of high-VOC products that you can avoid when shopping for cleaners.

Products with more than 10 percent benzene, toluene, xylene or trichloroethane, which are all VOC-based solvents, are highly toxic and not recommended for use. In addition, products that are labeled with "danger" or "poison" are the most toxic.

Instead, try products that are less offensive and contain natural ingredients such as pine oil.

Environment-Friendly Products

Alternative, more environmentally-friendly products, like baking soda, vinegar, and borax are equally efficient in cleaning the home. Also, purchase dye and fragrance-free cleaners, which are typically lower in harmful agents than scented products. Find more environment-friendly products at Green Seal.

Clean Air Counts Information

Clean Air Counts is a six-county Chicago regional initiative of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Region V, City of Chicago, and Illinois EPA. It seeks significant reductions in smog-forming pollutants and energy consumption.

Clean Air Counts is made possible through the support of The Chicago Community Trust, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Grand Victoria Foundation, Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.