Apr 13

How to select a green detergent

When you go shopping, you’ll see bottles and boxes of detergent labeled with “green”, “natural” and “organic”. Are they really better for the environment?
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a system that helps us to find out which products live up to their claims. The agency asks manufacturers to provide a list of ingredients. If a company uses the safest chemical for each type of ingredient, they earn the logo. If they don’t, the EPA encourages them to reformulate. The Design for the Environment Seal is awarded to a laundry detergent that meets EPA requirements as both good for business and the environment.
Problem ingredients in laundry detergents are phosphates and some surfactants, mainly nonylphenol ethoxylates. Phosphates were banned from U.S.-produced laundry detergents in the 1970s. Surfactants help soil to float away from garments by forming a micelle which surrounds a piece of dirt and carries it away. The micelle are toxic to fish because they get into the fish gills and impairs their ability to get oxygen from the water and thus is bad for the environment.
Even if you know which chemical compounds to avoid, it can be difficult as they are seldom listed on labels. That’s where the Design for the Environment logo becomes extremely helpful. You know that you’re buying the best eco-friendly product.
The EPA offers a list of safe products on its Web site. You’ll see that only a few brands are listed. This doesn’t mean that all others are “bad”. Applying for certification is voluntary. As more manufacturers reformulate a safer cleaning product and performance testing, additional detergents will be added to the list.
Another good source for learning about Green Laundry Detergents and reading reviews of green detergents is ConsumerSearch.You’ll find both liquid and powder detergents rated as well as specialty detergents for babies, delicate clothing and athletic wear.