It's easy being green, especially when you get some pointers from William Rea, MD, founder of the Environmental Health Center in Dallas, and Toni Bark, MD, an environmental expert in Evanston, Ill., who is certified in healthy eco-living with a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) designation.
They know phrases like phosphate- and chlorine-free on the label are good when it comes to buying products that are better for your body. Even easier, look for green '"stamps" that designate a product has eco- and body-friendly attributes, like chemical-free or organic, such as the '"Green Seal" of approval, the A-OK from Green Seal, an independent nonprofit that certifies products and services that are greener and healthier.
If you've seen a household cleanser ad lately, you've probably seen a bacteria, mold, or fungus, personified as an ugly little critter with sharp teeth, scaly skin, and a bad attitude. Those ads make it seem as if bathroom germs are mounting a daily, organized invasion of your tub, toilet, and shower. But what are the real bathroom germs lurking behind your sink, what can you catch from them, and how can you combat them?
Here's what Rea and Bark stock their cabinets with to keep their homes as clean as green can get.
Eco-Friendly Bathroom Cleaners
Heinz Distilled White Vinegar is all-natural, made from corn and water. Its 5% acidity is where the product gets its mold-fighting power, making it a good bathroom staple. ($2.19/32 ounces)
Biokleen Super Concentrated All Purpose Cleaner & Degreaser works in every room in the house, says Bark, including the bathroom, without harsh chemicals and fumes that can be released with steam when you take a hot shower. ($5.75/16 ounces)
Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds Liquid Cleaner contains natural ingredients such as fir pine oil, and biodegrades after it dries. ($11.59/32 ounces)
Green Kitchen Cleaners
Bon Ami Powder Cleanser is an oldie but goodie. First produced in 1886, it's still used today for scrubbing away grease and grime using all-natural ingredients like the mineral feldspar, limestone, and palm oils, Bark says. ($3.29/14 ounces)
Green Works Natural Dishwashing Liquid is made with plant-based, biodegradable ingredients and has no harsh chemical fumes. ($3/22 ounces)
Seventh Generation Natural Automatic Dishwasher Gel is made of lemon, grapefruit, and other natural ingredients, says Rea, to help keep your dishes clean and your air chlorine-free. ($3.99/
Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Liquid Dish Soap comes in extravagant scents, including basil, lavender, and lemon verbena -- with no toxins such as ammonia and chlorine. ($3.99/16 ounces)
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