I’m sure many of you are familiar with EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) Skin Deep, the site that ranks beauty and personal products on their ingredients. Skin Deep has been a very handy tool for many of us for deciding if our current products are toxic and for finding new products that are healthier.

However, many of us were left wondering about cleaning products. It’s a lot harder to read cleaning product labels; partly because of the rather scientific ingredients used and partly because cleaning products are not required to disclose their ingredients. Lovely… As crunchy people, we already spend enough time reading food labels and personal product labels but to try and wade through the mess of cleaning product labels is enough to drive anyone crazy.

Thankfully, the wonderful people at EWG have created a database just for cleaning products. Much like the cosmetic database, Skin Deep, EWG ranks cleaning products on the ingredients used. Unlike Skin Deep that uses a number based ranking (0-10), the Guide to Healthy Cleaning uses a letter grade system. Much like in school, A = great product and F = run for the hills.
Resource Spotlight: EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning
Now many natural minded people do have a few concerns about this new database. Some feel like the Guide to Healthy Cleaning is too harsh on some natural cleaners and rather easy on some of the big bad ones. For instance, Biokleen’s dishwasher detergent is rated F as is Clorox Bleach. Now this might seem harsh but they are ranking it based on ingredients. Sometimes a natural cleaner might just have one or two really bad ingredients (in Biokleen’s dishwasher detergent the offender is the oxygen bleach which EWG deems as an F ingredient) Now whether you feel that one bad ingredient should throw off the entire rating of the product is up to you but I do like that EWG is erring on the side of extreme. I’d rather have a product rated perhaps too poorly then have a product rated better than it should be.

Another reason products (natural and conventional) are getting bad ratings is because they don’t really disclose their actual ingredients. For example, they might list “surfactants”this is pretty vague and EWG can’t really give it a proper grading without full disclosure.  “Surfactants” may be made with lesser concerning substances but it could be made with high concerning substances and since the cleaning product doesn’t actually disclose how those surfactants are made, EWG is left to judge harshly. As I mentioned above, I prefer that. Yes it’s harsh but hey if those cleaning companies want a better grade then all they need to do is fully disclose their ingredients! Is that really so much to ask?

Want a peek at the ratings for some products?

Heinz Distilled White Vinegar – A

Seventh Generation Natural Glass & Surface Cleaner, Free & Clear – C

Soft Scrub with Bleach Cleanser for Bath & Kitchen – F

Ecover ZERO Automatic Dishwasher Powder – B

Cascade Powder Dishwasher Detergent – F

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Rosemary Countertop Spray – C

Dr. Bronner’s 18-1 Hemp pure Castile Soap, Peppermint – A

Tide Liquid Detergent, Original – F

Biokleen Dishwash Liquid, Lemon Thyme – F

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda – A

Curious as to how your cleaning products rate? Head over to EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning and look them up!