Avoid Toxic Laundry Products

May 24, 2013
You use green cleaners on your floors and counters, but how about in your laundry machines?

You use green cleaners on your floors and counters, but how about in your laundry machines?

Switching to green laundry products is an easy but commonly overlooked opportunity. A new standard offered by Green Seal, an environmental certification organization, addresses the lifecycle impacts of laundry care products used in institutional and industrial settings.

The GS-51 standard covers more than 20 product categories for conventional laundry and dry cleaning, including detergents, prewash and fabric care products, spot removers, and laundry additives.

In addition to performance requirements, the benchmark mandates:

  • Concentrated detergents and softeners to reduce packaging and transport needs, which also minimizes greenhouse gas emissions. Packaging must be made from recyclable materials with postconsumer content or be reuseable.
  • Products that are nontoxic to human and aquatic life and contain biodegradable ingredients. Known carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxins, and other health hazards are prohibited.
  • Ingredient disclosure, including fragrance components, to promote transparency.
  • Training instructions regarding proper dilution and dosing.

“GS-51 also includes sustainability requirements for manufacturing,” adds Linda Chipperfield, vice president of marketing and communications for Green Seal. “These include reporting on energy and water use, tracking emissions and solid waste, and documenting that production is socially responsible.”

Looking for additional green labels? These organizations offer third-party certification for a variety of building products:

EcoLabel compares products and services with others in the same category and examines the product’s entire lifecycle.

Natural Resources Defense Council evaluates green product standards for consistency, publically disclosed information, and consensus-based development.

Transpare offers a product registry that highlights key environmental, health, and safety attributes of commercial cleaning products.

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