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Household Cleaner Shopping Tips PDF Print E-mail

Here's a few tips for safer shopping...

Buy less

  • buy only what you actually need
  • try not to be influenced by advertising and marketing gimmicks
  • ask 'Do I really need this or do I already have a safer solution at home?'.

The market for household cleaning products is competitive. Advertisers and marketers make all sorts of claims about the products they promote.

When you come across advertising and claims made by marketers about household cleaning products

  • take none of it as fact
  • look for evidence of claims made about a product - always check out what advertisers say.

Make a list before you go shopping

The prepared shopper is an economical shopper:

  • list the cleaning products you already have in your home - you might find you have enough for your needs
  • make a shopping list of those products you do not have but need.  This helps avoid the impulse buys and will save you money, avoid waste and reduce the amount of hazardous chemical cleaning products you expose your family to. 
Think of it this way: your family and your children breathe the fumes given off by chemical products and pick up traces of them through their skin or by eating food prepared on surfaces exposed to the products. Try safer solutions to your cleaning needs.

Read the label

Buyers have a right to know about the products they purchase:

  • manufacturers that provide full product information treat their customers with respect
  • providing full contents information is a necessary part of responsible selling and enacts the customer's right to free choice in the marketplace.

It is your right to know what chemicals you are bringing into your home. You have to exercise this right to safeguard your family's health and wellbeing and to enact your responsibilities as an environmentally-responsible buyer. 

Take a few seconds to read the chemical ingredients on the label before you select a product. You may find that the full range of ingredients aren't even listed:

  • if this is so, then think again about bringing those products into your home
  • why expose your family to something that the manufacturer will not even disclose the contents of?

Only the most socially and environmentally responsible manufacturers provide a full list of all chemical ingredients in their products.

Check for the NP label

Nitrogen and phosphorus are found in agricultural fertiliser - they are also found in laundry detergents and powders and in soaps. Released into the environment, nitrogen and phosphorus pollute soils and encourage the spread of noxious weeds.

When shopping, look for products with the words:

  • 'no phosphorus' or
  • 'phosphate free'.

Products free of nitrogen and phosphorus will not damage living environments by introducing excessive nutrients. Look for the NP label.

Look for the AELA label

The Australian Environmental Labelling Association has developed an environmental standard that products must attain to achieve their certification.

To find out more about their standard visit

Choose less-hazardous cleaning agents

  • bicarbonate of soda is a cheap and environmentally friendly, all-purpose cleaner and stain remover; it is found near the 'cake-ingredients' section of your supermarket
  • vinegar is found near the other cleaning agents; select cheap, plain white vinegar
  • microfibre clothes are found in supermarkets and specialty environmental products and healthy-home retailers; they dramatically reduce your chemical use; look in the cleaning section of the supermarket.

Shopping at specialty stores that deal in environmentally-safe and healthy-household products is a sure way to buy safe products unlikely to damage your family's health and the environment we all live within.

Avoid products with 'hazardous', 'caution' or 'danger' warnings on the labels

Chemicals are designated with 'hazardous', 'caution' or 'danger' warnings due to their toxicity or their potential to irritate skin and cause other health problems.

Avoid these products by selecting safer product solutions for your home use.

Is it biodegradable?

The Australian Standard for biodegradability (AS1792—Methods to Determine the Biodegradability of Surfactants) requires 80 per cent of the mixture to be degraded within 21 days if the product is to carry the label ‘biodegradable’.

Suggestion box

If you can't find any cleaning products that are environmentally and health-friendly, drop a note into your local stores suggestion box asking management to stock them.

More information

Do some research on the web about your favourite cleaning products. Most manufacturers offer information about themselves and their products.

Here are some other websites which will inform you about non-hazardous cleaning products: 

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