Sierra Magazine

Household Helpers

Resources for a clean and green home


Safer Cleaning Products
What are the most dangerous products in the average home? How do some household cleaners make lakes dirty? Are "green" cleaners for real? Find the answers in this helpful factsheet, published by the Washington Toxics Coalition.

Hazardous Products in the Home
Identify potential hazards room by room. This EPA site also includes a glossary of dangerous products (from acid to wood preservatives), storage and disposal tips, and greener alternatives.

Home and Family Guide
Get tips from the Ottawa Peace and Environment Resource Center. Check out the "water" section for alternative cleaners and criteria for evaluating cleaning products.

BBC News: Antibacterial Soap "May Not Work"
Learn why the American Medical Association has cautioned that widespread use of antibacterial soaps may actually be making bacteria stronger.


What Does Clean Really Mean?
Stock your own safe cleaning kit with "better" and "best" alternatives (both store-bought and homemade) in this factsheet from the Georgia Strait Alliance, a Canadian nonprofit.

Healthy Cleaning Alternatives
Use chemical products properly and create your own substitutes.

Safe Substitutes at Home
The Tennessee Valley Authority Regional Waste Management Department created this extensive factsheet on nontoxic household products.

Sierra Club Solid Waste Policy
Some of the toxic chemicals in cleaning compounds end up in sewage sludge, which is often used as fertilizer. Join the Sierra Club in calling for tighter regulations that will protect our soil and groundwater.

(Technical tools for serious research)

Material Safety Data Sheets
Even if potentially hazardous materials aren't listed on a product's label, they'll be on its Material Safety Data Sheet, the technical specifications required by law for each chemical. Although they're generally sent to industries, hospitals, universities, and other large users, data sheets for many common household products are just a click away online.

Troubling Bubbles
Nearly 500 products -- from household cleaners to hair dyes -- contain a petroleum-based active ingredient that has been shown to disrupt the endocrine systems of fish, birds, and mammals. For a detailed look at this environmental danger, order the report Troubling Bubbles: The Case for Replacing Alkylphenol Ethoxylate Surfactants from the Washington Toxics Coalition.

Environmentally Preferable Cleaners
Read an environmental and performance evaluation of general-purpose cleaners, glass cleaners, and hand dishwashing liquids from the Energy, Environment, and Resources Center at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Hazardous Substances Data Bank
Search the National Library of Medicine's peer-reviewed database for information on potentially hazardous chemicals. Topics include human-health effects, regulatory requirements, animal toxicity studies, and environmental impacts.

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