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Choose safe cleaning products for your home

kitchen sponges

Photo: Sponges (Flickr/Horia Varlan)


A clean home feels fresh and healthy, but how healthy (and how safe) are the cleaning products that you are using? Chemicals in cleaning products can lead to health problems such as skin and eye irritation and chemical burns, headaches, asthma and other respiratory issues.

In Australia cleaning products are not required to disclose full list  their ingredients on their label. While this makes choosing a safe product that is safe a bit more challenging, the following tips and guides can help you make more informed decisions.

  • For  information about cleaning product labelling and regulation, and the facts on natural cleaning products, chemical biodegradability and safety, check out this review by CHOICE, published late last year.
  • Shop Ethical shows you how to decode a product label to find out which products are safe and which ones to avoid.
  • The Environmental Working Group (US based) also offer a guide to decoding cleaning product ingredients. While a US source, some of of this advice applies here in Australia. (Some points about certifications are not applicable in Australia. If you are looking at their point on biodegradable products, for example, the above CHOICE article offers a better explanation of certification of these products in Australia).
  • If you are after a product that is both safe and environmentally sustainable, check out products certified by Good Environmental Choice Australia. GECA’s product standards  set requirements for safe and green cleaning products. Here’s a list of certified GECA certified products.
  • Interested in making  your own, toxin-free cleaning products? Check out these 7 home made cleaning products from Alex Stuart.

And here’s a hot tip from CHOICE you can do yourself:

To prevent bad odours filling up your fridge, keep some baking soda in an opened bottle or small box.

Safety first: Should you or someone in your family have a bad reaction to a cleaning chemical, or swallow a cleaning chemical, be sure to contact the Poisons Information Hotline on 13 11 26.

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