*Cleaners for Homes & Small Businesses

Industrial Consumer

For consumer-grade cleaning products, look for certified products whenever possible (see below). Avoid aerosol containers - use a pump spray instead. Avoid antimicrobial hand soaps, which contain hazardous chemicals but do not sanitize your hands any better than plain soap. For surface sanitizers and disinfectants, make sure they are registered by the US EPA for use in California, and contain one of the following active ingredients: hydrogen peroxide, citric acid, lactic acid, thymol and/or ethanol.





Info on this product category: *Cleaners for Homes & Small Businesses

Why Go Green

  • Green products have safer ingredients. Cleaning products often contain a variety of hazardous ingredients, including quaternary ammonium compounds, alkylphenol ethoxylates, 2-butoxyethanol, glycol ethers, and ethanolamine. These pose health hazards to workers and building occupants, as well as environmental hazards downstream.
  • Green products reduce waste, by emphasizing recycled and/or recyclable packaging.

Criteria for *Cleaners for Homes & Small Businesses

Criteria for Suggested products:

Cleaning chemicals (including general purpose and glass cleaners, cleaning wipes, and whiteboard cleaners; but excluding electronics cleaners and EPA registered disinfectants or sanitizers) should be certified by Green Seal -OR- UL EcoLogo -OR- the US EPA’s Safer Choice Program (formerly the Design for Environment Program) -OR- the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.

Avoid aerosol containers and antimicrobial hand soaps.

Surface sanitizers and disinfectants should be registered by the US EPA for use in California,  and should only contain the following active ingredients: hydrogen peroxide, citric acid, lactic acid, thymol and/or ethanol.


Last updated

Last updated: 
November 10, 2019

Guide for City Staff

Recycling Instructions

There are four options for properly disposing of cleaning products.  Keep in mind that hazardous waste disposal has its own environmental impacts, since wastes are generally hauled long distances to licensed facilities.


  1. Use them up.
  2. Give them to someone who needs them.
  3. (San Francisco residents only) Drop them off at the San Francisco Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility 501 Tunnel Rd. (at The Dump), 8 A.M. - 4 P.M.  - Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays. 
  4. (San Francisco residents only) Call (415) 330-1405 to schedule a Free Home Pick-up.

Guide for Small Businesses & Homes

  • Try microfiber cloths, which attract dirt like magnets even without chemicals. You can clean surfaces like glass with water alone.
  • Make your own cleaning products from common materials like baking soda, castille soap, or lemon juice.
  • Compare consumer cleaning products on  GoodGuide.
  • Use disinfectants sparingly: Surfaces that you touch are the most important.
  • Choose ready-to-use, peroxide- or citric acid-based disinfectants.  Avoid disinfectants that list hypochlorites or quaternary ammonium compounds as ingredients (look for the words "ammonium chloride" in the ingredients).
  • Small businesses can save money by switching to institutional-grade cleaning products.  Ready-to-use products are 15 times more expensive than concentrates.
  • Custodial companies that are SF Green Businesses should watch the  custodial green cleaning training video series made by SF Environment.

Guide for Large Organizations


  1. Consider purchasing cleaning products listed here as "required" or "suggested"
  2. For contracts, consider using our purchasing specifications - listed under "Criteria for All Cleaners"  
  3. Switch to microfiber mops and cloths
  4. Install closed-loop dilution systems to prevent employee exposure to hazardous concentrates
  5. Never purchase hand soaps labelled "anti-microbial" or "anti-bacterial" (health care workers excepted)
  6. Print this Green Cleaning Checklist/Poster for staff;
  7. Watch custodial green cleaning training videos made by SF Environment.