Do you associate a clean home with the lingering fragrances from commercial household cleaning products? According to Deirdre Imus, best-selling author and founder of the Greening the Cleaning program, household cleaning fragrances could be harmful to your health. The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology researches possible links between various cancers and environmental hazards. In her book, Greening Your Cleaning, published in April, 2007, Imus advocates the use of alternative cleaning products. The book includes an easy-to-follow table of “what to avoid and why” ingredients found in common cleaning products, including all purpose cleaners, laundry detergents, glass and window cleaners, hand dish detergents, air fresheners and deodorizers, carpet cleaners and toilet bowl cleaners.

For example, according to the table, artificial fragrances available to manufacturers for cleaning and deodorizing products “could be made up of 50 to 100 or more toxic chemical ingredients. Artificial fragrances cause indoor air pollution and may trigger environmental illnesses such as headache, sinusitis, asthma, allergy, chronic fatigue syndrome, chemical sensitivity, etc.” Phenols, dyes, chlorine bleach, trisodium phosphate and a host of others bear similar warnings as suspected or known carcinogens, skin, eye and respiratory ailments.

The good news is that there are many alternatives available. has a slideshow that explains how to make your own green cleaning supplies, and many companies are offering green products. Imus’ list of ingredients to avoid can be downloaded as a pdf file from and printed so you can check labels carefully before you buy. Good Housekeeping’s website,, reviews and recommends true green products for home use. They feature six top picks for general purpose cleaning product lines, which are chosen as nominees for their 2011 Heart of Green Awards. The products are: Seventh Generation, Ecover (Belgian Company), Method (Target brand), Mrs. Meyers (S.C. Johnson), Green Works (Clorox) and Nature's Source (S.C. Johnson). Mrs. Meyers and Seventh Generation are available at Raley’s, and Green Works products are available at Safeway.