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Is There a Difference Between Eco-Friendly and Natural Cleaning Products?

Eco-friendly, natural, green, organic, biodegradable...the list of terms thrown around for describing environmentally friendly cleaning products is pretty extensive. While often used interchangeably, there are both subtle and significant differences between many of them that you need to know as a consumer.

It’s important to understand the differences when choosing the cleaning products that are best for your home and the environment. Here’s what you need to know about eco-friendly vs. natural cleaning products and whether there really is a difference between them or not.

What is an Eco-Friendly Cleaning Product?

According to Merriam-Webster, eco-friendly means to be not environmentally harmful. As such, an eco-friendly cleaning product is one that will not harm the environment. Seems simple doesn’t it?

While the base definition of an eco-friendly cleaning product is fairly self-explanatory, that definition is often used liberally to mean different things. For example, eco-friendly doesn’t necessarily mean that a product is organic or 100% natural, despite what many companies want you to think.

Eco-friendly means the cleaning product itself will cause no harm to the environment. It doesn’t mean the product doesn’t contain chemicals, because not all chemicals are inherently harmful to the environment. Similarly, an eco-friendly product may not be all natural as synthetic products also don’t always imply harm or toxicity.

Eco-friendly cleaning products also don’t imply that the packaging is eco-friendly or that fossil fuels weren’t used in the production and transportation process. While most people are focused on the product itself, don’t forget about the bigger picture of the production process if you’re really dedicated to causing as little harm as possible to the environment.

The way the product is used also dictates whether it’s truly eco-friendly or not. Products labelled as eco-friendly should have an explanation of how it’s environmentally responsible on the packaging. This helps consumers understand their specific definition of eco-friendly and provide instructions on how to use the product in a way that will cause no harm.

What is a Natural Cleaning Product?

According to Merriam-Webster, natural means existing in or produced by nature: not artificial. As such, a natural cleaning product is one made from natural ingredients and contain no synthetic or artificially made ingredients. Seems simple doesn’t it?

Not so much. Similar to eco-friendly, the term natural is often misconstrued to mean things it doesn’t. There are also no regulations around marketing and labelling a product as natural, so do your research to figure out whether a product’s claims are true or not.

One of the biggest points of confusion around natural cleaning products is that natural does not necessarily mean chemical-free! Seeing chemicals in the ingredients list is not necessarily problematic as many common cleaning chemicals occur naturally, such as citric acid. If this is the case, having chemicals isn’t at all bad but simply the power of what nature can produce all on its own!

Natural cleaning products do not necessarily imply that they are organic either. An organic product is not only made up of natural ingredients but had no synthetic chemicals used at any point in the production process. Whether a cleaning product is organic or not will have no impact on its cleaning abilities and is ultimately a personal preference about the source and production process of your cleaning products.

If you’re looking for cleaning products that won’t cause any damage to floors or furniture, natural products are typically a safe bet but not a guarantee. Naturally occurring chemicals and ingredients can cause just as much damage as their synthetic counterparts or other chemicals and cleaning ingredients. Don’t presume that natural means safe; check the packaging for more details and always test new products on a small area first.

What are the Differences Between Eco-Friendly and Natural Cleaning Products?

Yes, there is a difference between eco-friendly and natural cleaning products. The short version is that natural cleaning products are almost always eco-friendly but not all eco-friendly products are natural. 

Eco-friendly cleaning products will not, as mentioned above, cause harm to the environment when they are used or disposed of. Eco-friendly products don’t necessarily have to be all natural; just because an ingredient is artificially made doesn’t mean it will cause harm to the environment.

Natural cleaning products, on the other hand, generally won’t cause any harm to the environment but it’s still not a guarantee. Read the packaging to make sure and don’t forget to use it as directed to ensure no harm to the environment or what you’re cleaning.

When shopping for environmentally friendly cleaning products, make sure you know specifically what you’re looking for, do your research, read the labels and don’t be fooled by unclear marketing terms about how the products are really made.

Sheiner’s is proud to offer the highest quality eco-friendly cleaning products to consumers nationwide for the better part of two decades. View our product catalogue online and get ready to clean any surface while protecting the beauty of flooring and furniture.


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