5 Green Cleaning Products for Tackling Messy Homes
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By Meredith Rosenberg
In the past, eco-friendly cleaning products have held a bad reputation for being ineffective. As the demand for green products has grown, there's been more innovation and better choices for consumers. Going green is great for your health and your home because not only do these items clean just as well as the chemical-laden options, but there's also less chance that their ingredients will harm you—and the environment.
With interchangeable labels—like natural, eco-friendly, organic and green—it can be confusing to know what to buy and what's best for your latest kitchen mess. Federal regulations don't require proof for environmentally friendly claims, unlike FDA certifications for food, and companies can slap labels on products even if they include chemicals and environmental hazards. To complicate matters, there are also a fair number of companies that qualify as green, even though they lack environmental buzzwords on their packaging.
Here are some tips for choosing your household cleaning products, along with product recommendations that will tackle most messes while minimally impacting the environment.
How to Know if a Product Is Eco-Friendly
For starters, research cleaning products on a site like Environmental Working Group (EWG). This nonprofit evaluated more than 2,500 cleaning products and rated them on a scale of A to F according to an extensive methodology scale. In addition to verifying product claims, consumers can also reference a Guide to Healthy Cleaning for EWG's top picks.
But there is a caveat to EWG's guide. Christine Dimmick, CEO of The Good Home Company and author of Detox Your Home said, "A product can be 100 percent plant derived, but the process of creating soap from a coconut can go through ethoxylation—which creates a carcinogenic, toxic runoff. It is often disguised as 'surfactants/soap made from coconuts," she said. "There is no way of knowing, and many companies leave off ingredients to get a better rating on EWG."
For an additional level of fact-checking, look for a Green Seal or EcoLogo label, both of which are environmental certifications with high standards. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also has a Safer Choice label for products containing safer chemicals, like Seventh Generation. And if you're concerned about companies greenwashing with misleading labels, the Federal Trade Commission Green Guide is a comprehensive resource that addresses how marketers should responsibly handle green claims.
Short of creating your own cleaning products, which can be done with vinegar and baking soda, here are five eco-friendly cleaning materials that experts recommend and that actually work.
All-Purpose Cleaner: Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds Liquid Cleaner
Dr. Bronner's is perhaps most famous for its castile soap, but the company also makes an all-purpose Sal Suds cleaner that can be used for laundry, dishes, floors, counters and bathtubs. EWG has given it an A rating, while the plastic bottle is made from recycled materials.
Bleach Alternative: Force of Nature
Leslie Reichert of the Green Cleaning Coach and author of The Joy of Green Cleaning recommends Force of Nature as a bleach alternative. "There are some great new technologies that are coming on the market," she said. Force of Nature is a relative newcomer that allows consumers to create electrolyzed water at home by combing salt, water and vinegar in a small appliance. The company claims the result is as effective as bleach, which it backs with an EPA-registered disinfectant designation.
Laundry Detergent: Biokleen Free and Clear Laundry Liquid
Biokleen is another plant-based brand to receive an A rating from EWG. Additionally, the company follows green manufacturing processes and offsets its energy and water usage.
Dishwasher Detergent: Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent, Free and Clear
Seventh Generation has spent about 30 years creating eco-friendly cleaners. Its plant-based dishwasher detergent is a USDA Certified Biobased Product, meaning that the formula is derived from renewable resources. It's also phosphate free with an EWG A rating, while the packaging is made from recycled materials.
Cleaning Cloths: Skoy Cloth
Reichert also likes to use Skoy Cloths, a reusable towel that multitasks as a dishcloth, sponge, rag or paper towel. The cloths can be reused for months, and tossed in the washer or dishwasher to clean. Since they won't last forever, the biodegradable material can also be composted.
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It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.
Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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