There are so many cleaning products out there. How do you pick the best one for your and your family?
The best cleaning product is the one that will be used, so the most important thing is that it works for what you need it for. If a product isn’t working, try something else. Not sure what to choose? The label has a lot of good information that can help. See our guide on reading a label for more information.
One place to look on the label as a starting point is at the product certification logos. These certifications can be a helpful indicator to see if a product lines up with your values, priorities and needs as well as a useful factor when weighing potential product trade-offs, like performance, price and sustainability.
What do all of those certification symbols mean? Here’s a guide of some of the more frequently-seen cleaning product certifications to get you started:
|Beauty without Bunnies||
|This PETA program indicates that the brand and its ingredient suppliers don’t conduct, commission, pay for or allow any tests on animals for ingredients, formulations or finished products anywhere in the world and won’t do so in the future.||Animal Welfare|
|Carbon Neutral Certification||
|The process for this certification is to define what is covered in the product carbon footprint, accurately measure the emissions, set goals to reduce the footprint and offset remaining emissions, then deliver on these goals and demonstrate climate action.||Climate Change|
|Cradle to Cradle||
|Products are assessed for environmental and social performance across five critical sustainability categories: material health, material reuse, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness.||Multi-Attribute**|
|ECOLOGO Certifications indicate a product has undergone rigorous scientific testing, exhaustive auditing or both, to prove its compliance with metrics for a wide variety of criteria in some or all of the following categories: materials, energy, manufacturing and operations, health and environment, product performance and use, and product stewardship and innovation.||Multi-Attribute**|
|When you see this mark, it means products does not contain any EWG ingredients of concern and meets additional standards pertaining to ingredient transparency and manufacturing practices to further ensure safety.||Multi-Attribute**|
|This certification means products meet standards related to safe working conditions, environmental protection, sustainable livelihoods and community development funds.||Social Responsibility|
|FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)||
|This certification indicates that products and their ingredients come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, societal and economic benefits.||Raw Materials|
|Green Good Housekeeping Seal||
|A product must first earn the Good Housekeeping Seal reflecting satisfaction with its performance and then meet environmental performance requirements which include water and energy efficiency, ingredient and product safety, packaging reduction and the brand’s corporate social responsibility.||Multi-Attribute**|
|This certification means a general-purpose household cleaning product is safer for human health and the environment compared to conventional alternatives (focusing on climate, water, waste and health) while providing uncompromising cleaning performance.||Multi-Attribute**|
|This labeling system is designed to follow the US Federal Trade Commission’s guidance and enable companies to convey to consumers how to recycle a package through clear, harmonized labeling.||Eliminating Waste|
|This symbol certifies that no new animal tests were used in the development of the product.||Animal Welfare|
|Natural Products Association Certified||
|A product with this label meets their standards for natural, including being made up of only or almost only natural products, avoid any ingredient with peer-reviewed, scientific researching showing human health or environmental risk, not use animal testing in development except where required by law and use biodegradable ingredients and the most environmentally sensitive packaging.||Raw Materials|
|The seal means that the certified product was produced using methods that support the three pillars of sustainability: social, economic, and environmental, focusing on the themes of forest, climate, human rights and livelihoods.||Multi-Attribute**|
|Every ingredient is reviewed for safety criteria for both human health**** and the environment before a product can carry the Safer Choice Label, regardless of percentage in the product. The program also reviews product performance, pH, packaging and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).||Health and Safety|
|A SmartLabel QR code on a package leads to a site with more information about product ingredients.||Health and Safety|
|Biobased Products are derived from raw materials such as plants and other renewable agricultural, marine, and forestry materials and generally provide an alternative to conventional petroleum derived products.||Raw Materials|
|USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing, among many factors, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives. Organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical, or biologically based farming methods to the fullest extent possible.||Raw Materials|
|Products must not contain or be sourced from meat, fish, fowl, eggs, milk, honey, animal by-products or other animal-derived ingredients.||Animal Welfare|
* All products with the symbol meet the certification requirements but not all products meeting the requirements are certified. There are a number of reasons a company may not pursue certification.
** Multi-Attribute certifications may include product requirements relating to environmental, human health, social responsibility or other attributes. Visit the certification program’s website for more information.
*** This is not strictly a certification, but this information on a package can be a useful source of sustainability-related information.
****All products found on store shelves are tested to be safe when used as intended.
Not all cleaning products are certified, even if they meet many of the qualifications. Additional information found in the marketing language on the label can also help inform your choice. Some of the marketing terms used have a regulated definition while others can be a little more difficult to pin down.
Descriptions from either category can help inform your choice, but the unregulated terminology is often vaguer and you may need to look closer to see what it means for the product.
For more information, you can always look to the product ingredients, as well as additional details through the manufacturer’s website or on SmartLabel.