How Green is Your Housekeeper?

Cleaning Services ChecklistKeeping up with household chores is a full-time job. And if you have another full-time job outside the home, along with children, a spouse, a hobby or two or a schedule that includes some volunteer work, well, getting the dust bunnies out from under the bed isn't always a priority. So sometimes we call in reinforcements -- a cleaning service. But finding a company whose cleaning methods and ideas about protecting planet home match our own can be tricky. Then, there's all that greenwashing to watch out for. A quick scan of the phone book shows just about every company proclaiming, "green cleaning," "no chemicals," or "environmentally friendly." How do you choose? To sort out the green from the greenwashed, ask prospective cleaners these questions:

  1. Are the ingredients in your cleaning products all natural? Ask for specific brands or a list of ingredients.
  2. Do you plan to use disinfecting products? If the answer is yes, you can search the Environmental Protection Agency Web site for EPA-registered disinfectants.
  3. How do you plan to clean floors? If the company brings its own vacuum cleaner, you'll want to make sure it has an adequate filtration system that will collect -- and trap -- dirt. This means cleaners won't be sucking up dirt at one house and then puffing it back out into the air when they arrive at yours. The Carpet and Rug Institute is an excellent resource for researching vacuum cleaners.
  4. Can you provide at least 3 references? If the service you are considering cannot, you should move on.

It makes sense to hire a cleaning company that is aligned with your environmental values. Otherwise, you won't be happy -- even if the dust bunnies are gone from under the bed. Tip: If you live in the San Francisco area, I recommend WAGES, which stands for Women's Action to Gain Economic Security, an organization that works with low-income immigrant Latinas to launch green housecleaning cooperatives. image: Home Green Home