Safe and Green Cleaning Products

A clean home environment can play an important role in your health. When mold, dust, pet hair, mice or roaches are in the house, they can cause allergies and asthma symptoms, among other negative effects. You can reduce your risk of being exposed to these health hazards by keeping a clean home.

When cleaning your home or building, use non-toxic cleaning products (also known as “green” or “safe” products) to avoid exposure to harmful chemicals. Many cleaning products contain ingredients that can be dangerous to your health if they are breathed in, swallowed, or come into contact with your skin or eyes.

Choose Safer Cleaning Products

  • Read the label before buying a cleaning product. Avoid products with the words “DANGER,” “POISON” or “WARNING” on the label, if possible. These words signal a product is toxic.
  • Use unscented or fragrance-free products. The chemicals used in “fragrances” can make air quality worse and may cause allergic reactions or sensitivities. “Clean” doesn’t need to have a smell.
  • Make your own effective homemade cleaners using common items, such as baking soda, mild dish soap and lemon juice.
  • Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products. Such mixtures can create dangerous gases.
  • Building superintendents, managers and maintenance staff should use institutional-grade cleaning products that are certified by a trusted, third-party ecolabel (e.g., EPA Safer Choice, Green Seal or EcoLogo). Green cleaning has been shown to be effective (PDF) and can also save you money.

Protect Yourself When Cleaning

  • Carefully read and follow label directions.
  • Open windows or turn on the bathroom fan to let in fresh air.
  • If you are using a product that may irritate the skin, wear waterproof cleaning gloves.
  • Be careful when using any household cleaner. Even homemade products can cause health issues in sensitive people when they are not used carefully.
  • Keep all cleaning products away from children and pets.

Contact your Landlord

Your landlord and building manager must keep your building in good condition. This includes sealing holes and cracks to prevent pests from getting inside the house, and repairing water leaks so that mold does not grow.

  • Report home maintenance issues to your landlord and request repairs immediately. That includes musty odors, cracks, holes and water leaks.
  • If mold keeps coming back after you have cleaned it, ask your landlord to fix the problem. Mold is naturally present in every home. It grows in wet places, such as bathrooms, when they are not regularly cleaned and allowed to dry.
  • If you report a problem and it is not fixed in a timely manner, call 311 or make a maintenance complaint online.

Additional Resources

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