It’s spring time! As flowers bud and birds chirp after the (long) winter break, you might want to make your home tidy and shiny. Why not go green for this spring cleaning?

Blanca Morales, EEB and BEUC Ecolabel expert, tells us why it matters.

We use washing liquids, laundry powders, multi-purpose cleaners and dishwashing tablets daily to keep our houses clean. But standard detergents are not as healthy as we might think. Most contain ingredients which can harm the environment and human health. Problematic substances can sneak through water treatment services, pollute rivers and can even end up in our plates and glasses.

There is a solution: choose EU Ecolabel detergents for spring cleaning, for five good reasons:

1. Save energy (and money)

Ecolabel detergents are proven to be efficient at low temperatures, allowing you to save energy and money. For instance, laundry detergents are tested to have the highest efficiency at 30°C. Ecolabel detergents are highly concentrated, i.e. a small amount does the job. If you do not use more than you’re supposed to, detergents can help reduce both your carbon footprint and your cleaning budget.

2. Protect your health

Ecolabel detergents generally contain less problematic chemicals compared to standard products, which minimises your overall exposure. For instance, substances that may cause cancer, change your DNA or damage fertility are strictly prohibited in Ecolabel products, but not in standard detergents[1]. Allergenic substances, fragrances and preservatives harmful for the environment or your health are largely restricted, and the most problematic ones are fully banned.

3. Spare the environment

To be awarded the label, Ecolabel detergents must not be toxic to aquatic organisms and must be biodegradable. That is why they must be free of phosphates, which fuel algae overgrowth, threaten other aquatic life and cut water oxygen levels. Moreover, the label excludes disinfecting detergents which can make bacteria become resistant, i.e. hard to kill in the long run.

4. Cut plastic

Every year, Europeans generate over 25.8 million tonnes of plastic waste, of which only 30% is recycled. The packaging of EU Ecolabel detergents is circular: it favours recycled material and is recyclable, relies on less plastic than conventional packages and promotes refillable containers. Ecolabel products must also be clear of microplastics, these tiny toxic particles of plastic which end up in fish, crustaceans or plankton. While the EU is considering restricting microplastics in detergents and other products, Ecolabel is one step ahead.

5. Avoid greenwashing 

Unlike many self-proclaimed green logos, the Ecolabel flower guarantees sound environmentally-friendly detergents. This is thanks to the strong requirements that manufacturers must meet to obtain the label[2]. Tests prove that Ecolabel detergents work as efficiently as conventional ones.

Convinced? You can easily find Ecolabel detergents on your supermarket shelves. In September 2017, around 5,300 Ecolabel consumer cleaning products, comprising detergents, were registered across the EU.

This label is about much more than just detergents. For 25 years, Ecolabel has been rewarding the most environmentally-friendly consumer products such as tissue papers, paints, shower gels and now even shoes, computers and hotels! Be on the lookout for the flower logo every time you shop.

Read more

The EU Ecolabel is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Learn more in the EEB and BEUC factsheet.

[1] Non-ecolabelled detergents may include triclosan (suspected of interfering with human hormones[1]), nanosilver (linked to neurological disorders), or substances that release formaldehyde (suspected of causing cancer, allergies and asthma).

[2] The EU and Member States in cooperation with industry, environmental NGOs and consumer organisations define the Ecolabel criteria and revise them every four years.