Green Washing -- the Good Kind

Hate germs but love the planet? Fortunately, a growing array of greener cleaning products lines stores' shelves these days. I asked sanitation experts of all ilk to name their favorite planet-preserving solutions, emphasizing that they couldn't be financially tied to their chosen brand. The result is a list that can comfort even the most neurotic germophobe.


NICOLE CRONIN co-owns Mas Sake, a popular San Francisco restaurant that serves Japanese-Mexican fusion cuisine. She replaced her business's bleach products with greener cleaners, purchased renewable energy via a partnership with Village Green Energy, and added a 25-cent surcharge to each table's bill to help pay for the green measures.

My favorite products for the kitchen are the countertop sprays from Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day. They have essential oils, and their scents are refreshing. Also, none of Mrs. Meyer's products are antibacterial; they believe good soap and water are all that's necessary. This is how my mom raised me -- she'd use just vinegar and water to clean before these brands were around. Mrs. Meyer's does the job just as well as brands that aren't environmentally friendly, and their products aren't tested on animals. They also don't contain bleach, petroleum distillates, phosphates, or anything else that could emit harsh fumes.


MARK NEWMAN-KUZEL is the founder and CEO of Maid in the U.S.A., a 20-year-old housekeeping company in Los Angeles that cleans movie studios, the homes of Hollywood celebrities, and retail stores including Gap and Patagonia.

Our team prefers to use Clorox Green Works products, which are both green and effective. They have a light, fresh smell that reminds me of being outdoors. The plant- and mineral-based biodegradable ingredients are chosen for their natural abilities to dissolve and remove dirt, oil, and grease. None of the products are tested on animals, which is very important to me. Also, you can buy it as a concentrate to mix in your own bottles, thus extending the reach of your purchase.


As vice president of rooms for Fairmont, ANDREA TORRANCE oversees all aspects of housekeeping for 61 upscale hotels and resorts worldwide. The Toronto-based chain has created a stewardship program to lessen its properties' environmental footprint.

I like to use the stainless-steel cleaner from Eco Mist Solutions. It's outstanding for removing fingerprints, smudges, and food stains and won't damage finishes. Eco Mist products are derived from 100% toxin-free renewable resources, keeping my home safe from allergens, carcinogens, skin irritants, and unwanted scents. And I feel better knowing that my family has less exposure to toxins.


JOHN WYCHE is the founder and CEO of TrashCo, a Miami-based waste-management company that sanitizes dumpsters and responds to hazardous-waste spills. A police sergeant, Wyche got the idea for TrashCo while searching for criminal evidence in trash cans.

TrashCo is committed to sustainable environmental practices, so I tried a lot of products in my search for a nontoxic, biodegradable cleaner that would kill all the germs in garbage containers. I settled on SpectraSan 24 after a test that included a random sampling of garbage cans and dumpsters that were found to contain seven different bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella. Post-test results were 100% free of bacteria and fungi. SpectraSan 24 truly exceeded my expectations.


BETHANY BUCHANAN owns an eco-conscious nursing home, Grace Homes, in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Buchanan, a registered nurse, has been a healthcare professional for 16 years, including eight years in hospitals.

I use Young Living Essential Oils' Thieves Household Cleaner in my care home. I love its warm cinnamon-and-clove scent -- my home never has the bleachy disinfectant smell other facilities have. I also appreciate that it's highly concentrated, so it comes in a smaller bottle that's also recyclable. Some studies I've read show that it kills more than 99% of bacteria and viruses, so I feel confident in it from an infection-control standpoint. It cuts the daily grease and grime effectively and leaves behind a pretty shine on wood surfaces. It contains 100% plant and mineral ingredients, so I don't worry about my staff's lungs being harmed from inhaling fumes.

For a longer list of experts recommending green cleaning products, go to the Green Life blog.