Evolution of House Cleaning Services

House cleaning services have evolved in a few different ways and examining the evolution of house cleaning services can evaluated through various lens. One can examine the changes through the methods used or by who is doing the house cleaning service itself. Traditionally, the role has been filled by women of the lower classes, whether or not these women were of a racial minority or low income varies for different time periods. Therefore evaluating the evolution of house cleaning services, through the scope of who performs said services, will reveal that the subjects doing the services are traditionally lower class females but who comprises that class varies.

Courtesy iStock

Recreating Domestic Service

Gabrielle Meagher’s “Recreating ‘Domestic Service’: Institutional Cultures and the Evolution of Paid Household Work,” states that “feminist accounts of household work stress that it is an occupation at the bottom of the social division of labor… middle- class women exploit working-class women” (Gabrielle Meagher 1997: 2). In support of Meagher’s analysis, Evelyn Nakano Glenn writes that “white women are viewed solely in terms of gender, while women of color are thought to be ‘doubly’ subordinated” (Evelyn Nakano Glenn 1992: 1). In times of indentured servitude, it was not uncommon for white women to take part in the household service but these women were often immigrants, therefore the minority. The progression of household services changes with the class system that is designed to keep the working class down. Those in the working class were more likely to be women of color, like Glenn and Meagher wrote. In essence, the people performing these jobs are the working-class and racial minorities.

The evolution of house cleaning services can be addressed from different standpoints but examining from the workers’ standpoint is quite telling of the evolution. The worker is more than likely a woman of color and of the working class. This lends itself to the idea that this job is lowly and therefore should be worked by the lower class.

Increased Awareness Leads to Shift Towards Greener Cleaning

Cleaning is a task in which (hopefully) all of us partake. However, how many of us take the time to consider what kinds of products we are using and how they are affecting our bodies and the environment? An increasing number of people in the United States and around the world are shifting their attitude about the cleaning products they use towards more environmentally friendly options. This shift is due to an increase in awareness about what is in our cleaning products and the potentially harmful effects of those ingredients. The awareness of improving green cleaning methods is taking place on a government, professional, and personal level.

Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products

            The shift towards more environmentally friendly cleaning products is seen most clearly at the government level. One example is Senate Bill 258, passed in California in 2017. This law, “encourages informed purchasing decisions and reduces public health impacts from exposure to potentially harmful chemicals in designated products” (SB 258, 2017). With increased regulations requiring more visibility to cleaning product ingredients, the government is affecting a shift in the public attitude. Thanks to this law, cleaning product companies are required to disclose any harmful ingredients, therefore increasing the chances that consumers will purchase the product that is more environmentally friendly. The increase in government awareness plays a huge role in the shift towards more environmentally friendly cleaning products.

Increased awareness at the workplace is another reason for the shift towards more environmentally friendly cleaning products. Employers are becoming increasingly concerned with keeping their workers happy and healthy. According to The Wilburn Company, Inc, “Not only is green cleaning eco-friendly, but it also has huge health benefits as well. Green cleaning


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Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products

Recent reports published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have presented that phthalates, quarternary ammonium compounds, chlorine, and triclosan are among the hidden toxins of regular cleaning products. These harmful chemicals are identified as human carcinogen and agents for boosting the multiplication of drug-resistant bacteria. Environmental contamination of these substances negatively affects the hormonal, reproductive, and metabolic processes in animals leading to infertility, malfunctioning of the internal organs, and cancer. Research studies of several government agencies, documentaries of health advocates, and latest media publications on the hazardous effects of regular cleaning products on human health and environment led the consumers to shift towards more environment-friendly cleaning supplies, recommending the use of eco-friendly cleaning products in resolving issues related to poisoning, pollution, and health issues.

Switch to Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products
Courtesy iStock

Majority of modern cleaning products contain a group of chemicals that pose a bigger risk of acquiring liver damage, endocrine disruption, chronic bronchitis, skin irritation, and breeding of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Investigations had been performed by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concerning the effects of repeated exposure to phthalates by means of direct contact or inhalation. Higher concentrations of these toxic chemicals are found in females due to frequent household cleaning. Corriher and Corriher (2013) found that the CDC “reported that phthalates can be found in the blood of most Americans; phthalates cause massive hormone disruptions, making them particularly damaging to women, and also cause cancer, birth defects, and fertility problems” (p. 155).

Understanding the Shift Towards Environmentally

Friendly Cleaning Products

From 2000 to 2014, 53 empirical articles have been conducted on a consumers buying behaviors in accordance with green products (Joshi & Rahman, 2015). Despite the large quantity of studies available, there are distinct contractions in the decision making process in green purchase behavior (Joshi & Rahman, 2015). Buying patterns are unique in that the decision making is based on a situational nature, rather than strict morals(Joshi & Rahman, 2015). These factors are divided into what is more likely to influence the buying nature of consumers. Consumers product functional attributes and environmental concern are two major determinants for purchase behavior for green products(Joshi & Rahman, 2015). This paper seeks to vaticinate the consumer’s green purchase behavior. To determine this behavior will help policymakers to formulate and implement strategies that are likely to encourage green purchasing. Encouragement in green purchasing would then, in turn, encourage environmental action to take place.

Literature Review

In Joshi and Rahman’s (2015) summary article reviewing 53 studies involving green purchasing, it was found that the consumers’ consumption of goods and services has increased dramatically around the world. Due to the depletion of major natural resources severe, and likely unrecoverable damage has been done to the environment (Chen & Chai, 2010). Global warming is one of the more serious repercussions and is responsible for the decline of fauna and flora, as well as an increase in environmental pollution(Chen & Chai, 2010). One of the ways that humans have coped with this reality is changing spending habits. More and more people are avoiding products that could cause direct environmental harm (Chan, 2001). The purchase of green products is measured as green purchase intention. This constitutes the consumers’ willingness to buy green or environmentally friendly products. Green purchase behavior is a mix of socially responsible behaviour, as well as ethical…

The Rise of Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products

The buzz around environmentally-friendly products has become more apparent in the recent years. While the increase of the impact of pollution to the earth continues, it is good to note that the number of more environmentally conscious consumers is on the rise as well. Tesco household goods product developer, Sanjeev Kaushal, reports, “Demand for eco-cleaning products in the UK is at an all-time high with shoppers more aware of how they can protect the planet through informed choices that start in their homes” (2018). This demand did not start automatically on its own, however. Factors affecting the concern and the shift towards the greener lifestyle started with the identification of a problem. According to Joshi & Rahman (2015), previous research has revealed that household products have contributed to the environmental damage by at least 40%. Had it not been for the information spread about what household products can or cannot do to the environment, the purchasing behavior of the market would have been static. This essay explores the factors for the increase of more environmentally friendly products and more environmentally conscious consumers, including the availability of information to support purchasing decisions, the consumers’ increase of willingness to spend more for the environment, and the government’s efforts at making legislations that encourage sustainability.

What Lies Behind the Shift to Green Cleaning Products?

There exist many cautionary examples of the adverse effects of traditional cleaning products upon both the environment and upon consumers. Their great expense frequently appears in a list of such bad effects, but less attention is paid to it than to the adverse environmental and health effects such products have.  Even in economic research, one cannot altogether escape discussions of danger of this kind. One who wished to study the economic hardship traditional cleaning products impose might study the various costs associated with medical care for illnesses linked to exposure to harsh or hazardous chemicals. The ultimate incentive for the widespread shift toward the use of green cleaning products is the nontoxicity, and thus the safety, for the environment, and by extension, for consumers, of those products.

Glinton (2005) contends that a 340 billion-pound increase in the manufacture of synthetic organic chemicals between 1940 and 1980 has led to a sharp rise in the incidence of the condition known as Multiple-Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). Symptoms include coughing, headaches, ear, eye, and nose irritation, fatigue and even depression. MCS is not a new phenomenon; early in the 1950s, Doctor Theron Randolph treated patients who were sensitive to levels of chemicals that were far below what the medical community considered lethal.The article does not speak to the prevalence of MCS because MCS is often misdiagnosed—even by doctors who specialize in the condition. However, Glinton suggests that as much as 15% of the American public suffers, to some degree, from hypersensitivity to everyday chemicals. Among the numerous chemical agents that cause the condition, Glinton lists traditional cleaning products, with their high concentrations of synthetic chemicals. In her discussion of implications of MCS for nursing, Glinton concludes that in a hospital setting, “only non-toxic cleaning

The Growing Eco-Friendly Product Market

There is little doubt that the environment has become a staple of twenty-first century concerns, both socially and politically. One of the dominant shifts within widespread environmental concerns has happened within the home, shown through the desire for environmentally friendly cleaning products. Eco-friendly cleaning products can range anywhere from hand soap to baby products and showcase a booming business. The sale of eco-cleaners was at $303 million in 2007, and has grew to to $640 million in 2011 (G., 2015). The most concrete reason for the shift to eco-friendly cleaning products is the concern mothers have for their children in today’s world. The concern of these mothers stem from interpersonal concerns relating directly to their children’s day to day lives, in addition to more widespread worries about maintaining a sustainable environment as part of their children’s futures.

One rising issue for mothers in today’s world is the growing rate of allergies among young children. Some children face bad allergic reactions in response to more traditional, non-environmentally friendly products. As a result, eco-friendly products are often brought into homes in attempts to curb bad allergic reactions or to soothe pre-existing conditions, like eczema (Lally, 2016). Although environmentally-friendly products are not the only way to avoid allergic reactions, and other options exist such as merely switching brands, mothers commonly found other alarming aspects of the products they were using when researching what caused the reactions. Many mothers have also risen to the challenge and have established their own companies for eco-friendly products, such as Honest, founded in 2011 by young mother and actress Jessica Alba (Lally, 2016).  Therefore, the economic shift towards environmentally-friendly cleaning products is supported through both supply and demand.


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What is Green House Cleaning?

A stroll down the cleaning product aisle at any store, and one will notice there is a shift towards environmentally friendly cleaning products. More and more often, labels are vibrant green, making claims of “environmentally safe” and  “eco-friendly.” Consumers, feeling threatened by the toxic ingredients in standard household cleaning products, have sought to make purchase decisions that make them feel safe. So, what is green house cleaning?

What is Green House Cleaning
Courtesy iStock.

Safety First

That consumers would move away from such a threat to satisfy their need for safety should come as no surprise. World-renowned psychologist, Professor Maslow defined the need for security and safety as the second stage of needs among our hierarchy of needs, ranking the need for safety more urgent than the need for love or belonging (Mcleod, 2018, para 2).Many standard cleaning products contain harmful chemicals such as Phthalates, Ammonia, Chlorine,  Sodium Hydroxide, and various volatile organic compounds. Consumers want to protect themselves, their children, pets and the environment from the threat of harm posed by these chemicals. According to data specialists Nielsen, “Nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment,” (CPG, FMCG & RETAIL, 2018, para. 2)

Not only are people willing to change their consumption habits, but they’re willing to spend more to do it. A recent survey by SurveyMonkey found that 35% of people are willing to spend more money on products that are better for the environment (Edelstein, 2005, para. 6).

Clean Water is Paramount

Regarding the environment, clean water is of paramount concern. Consumers have no way of knowing the effect standard household chemicals have on the local water sources. According to clean water action.org, “Of the over 80,000 chemicals on the market, only 200 have been evaluated for safety” (Clean Water Action, 2019, para. 3). Most cleaning products, when used, are absorbed by sponges which are then rinsed by water that runs down the drain and carries on into public water treatment facilities. This and other water contamination issues are a cause for concern for many. In 2018 the Water is Life movement gained public backing, when the Sioux nation protested the Dakota Access Pipeline, showing that public sentiment takes the protection of water very seriously.

Protection of children is a key factor in choosing environmentally friendly products. Parents want to be able to clean their homes without exposing their children to harsh fumes that can trigger breathing problems. They want to be able to clean toys and table tops without leaving unsafe residue for babies who like to put everything in their mouth.

Cleaning Green: The Moral, Ethical, & Capitalistic Factors in The Rise of Green Cleaning Products

Despite an ongoing debate culturally and politically concerning the value and efficacy of green products, the rise of a “green” cultural movement is undeniable. Recent surveys suggest not only a rise in customer awareness of potential benefits in green products, but that up to 35% of consumers are willing to pay a higher price for a product with green guarantees (CGS Survey, 2019). As culture and politics continues to debate the efficacy of humans as negative contributors to climate change, the free market has wasted no time in creating a sector dedicated to the ethical practices consumers have been seeking out. Likewise, advertising and marketing within this sector has pivoted from a “strong environmental message to convey to the public … [to] ambiguous and … only green in colour,” (Dande 2012).

The Transitional Phase

This transition and advertising focus is apparent in the cleaning products sector perhaps more so than in others—and for clear reasons. Cleaning products interact with us in our most personal locations and often contain some of the harshest chemicals in the name of sanitation. Furthermore, these products may be even more valuable when considering that pollutants in indoor spaces may be two to five times higher than pollutants outdoors (Indoor Air Quality, 2018). Finding products that remain gentle on people, children, pets and the environment whilst simultaneously remaining effective on pollutants and bacteria remains a complex balancing act. Still, many consumers walk that line regardless, and there are clear moral, ethical and capitalistic factors for this behavior that serve to explain why green cleaning products remain in high demand.

Everyone has seen it in grocery stores–the ever-growing selection of “green” cleaning products. With the threat of climate change hanging over humanity’s head, businesses have begun to take notice of the need for more sustainable and “green” products. Though scientists have yet to prove that many of these products can live up to the cleaning power of standard products (Light, 2009), many people have been switching to these products as a way to decrease the amount of harm they place on their bodies and the environment, leaving people to understand what is green house cleaning.

Efficacy of ‘Green’

In the article Efficacy of “Green” Cleaning Products with Respect To Common Respiratory Viruses and Mold Growth, Light suggests that green cleaning products are not enough to disinfect surfaces in a sufficient manner, and that traditional toxic cleaning products are more efficient in eliminating harmful substances such as mold and allergens, and are thus more effective in ensuring public health. Light then offers safety guidelines when using traditional cleaning methods, such as leaving the house so one doesn’t breathe in toxic fumes. This article, published in the Journal of Environmental Health, caused quite a stir among its readers. Multiple people and organizations wrote in to the editor to argue the legitimacy of the findings of the initial article.

In one response letter, Atkins and Bishop write, “protecting public health does not require completely disinfecting all environments” and “Green Cleaning reduces occupational exposure to harmful chemicals” (57). They suggest that the actual act of wiping away bacteria is what is most important during the cleaning process—not the antibacterial properties of the cleaning product. Also, the writers advocate for cleaner indoor environments. By limiting the amount of toxic chemicals one is exposed to, the safer from illness and disease one will be.

Plans to Outsmart Buyers

The niche function of the growing economy which is sustainability, led the people especially the companies, to various strategies and plans that will outsmart buyers but at the same time contribute to the fast-pacing disruption of our natural resources. The rise of eco-friendly products is one of the posterities of combined researches and planning that resulted to the shifting of preferences of people to a less expensive yet more sustainable products. These products are environmentally sustaining that provide a better assurance of safety, such items contain no harmful chemicals which are potential causes to a number of health issues. With the series of environmental and health issues that served as an eye-opener to shift to a more sustainable and natural way of maintaining a substantial habitat.

Sustainability is clearly important to consumers. In many emerging markets, consumers said they would either definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce impact on the environment. The popularity of natural products surging as consumers grow more conscious about what they use and the effect of these products have on our broader world (Wilson, J. 2018). As the effects and changes in the environment and in our climate are clearly seen, people are now more aware of the consequences that may occur from their own way of living. To be able to avoid the risks and unacceptable consequences that may occur which is mainly caused by human acts. People had a clear thought on how to establish a community that will promote and engage in sustainable products and it was clearly narrowed down to maintain an environment-friendly home.

Supporting Sustainability

With proven and clearly seen effects on our environment, people are now driven to support sustainability to build a healthier home environment reducing health risks by shrugging off chemically produced products and shifting to green products which are essential to the safety of the members of the family and live in a well-conditioned home atmosphere. With the use of many cleaning products, harmful chemicals are being released into the environment (Reichert, L. 2017). Changing to greener methods helps reduce pollution to our waterways and the air and it minimizes your impact on ozone depletion and global climate change with fewer smog-producing chemicals (Snow, S. 2017). Furthermore, green cleaning products are less expensive and provide longevity to our belongings which is favorable to most of the consumers. Certain products are also recyclable, which helps minimize the amount of waste released in the environment.

Through all the resources needed and available information for the subject and issue to be known to the public, we are now in the pace of change towards to a more salutary place to live with.


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What Are the Best Household Cleaning Products?

The Primacy of Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products over Regular Ones

Due to an increase in awareness and demand from an ecologically-minded population, there has been an explosion of green cleaning products into the market. The traditional cleaning products have been linked to some illnesses such as respiratory complications as well as environmental degradation. As such, green cleaning products are seen as a relatively safe alternative. Although the use of these products has been criticized as a marketing gimmick, there is conclusive evidence to show that the benefits to the environment and the health of individuals far outweigh those of chemical cleaners.

The composition of the products ensures that they are healthier for human beings and the environment. Further, these products are safer for the workers in the industries where they are manufactured. Traditional cleaning agents pose safety risks to those who handle them, especially from chemical burns to the eyes or the skin. Barbarossa & Pastore (2015) argue that manufacturers lose an average $25 million every year from lost time and workers compensation as a result of these injuries. Green cleaning products address the health and safety concerns of the workers. To be certified green, the products must have the requisite safety and health labels with training being available to ensure that the workers use the products safely.

However, critics argue that bio based products are likely to cause more harm to the environment than conventional products. Research shows that these products damage the ozone layer thereby leading to climate change. There also lacks sufficient evidence on the health effects of the chemicals that are used in the manufacture of green products. Bearth et al. (2017) posit that this lack of data and reliable studies on their health and environmental benefits shows that the use of the products is based on politics and sentiments.

In brief, the benefits that accrue from using the eco-friendly products outweigh any doubt that may exist about their effectiveness. Since virtually every product that human beings buy potentially harms the environment either during the production, use or disposal, it is essential to consider those that minimize the adverse effects. The use of eco-friendly cleaning products is a step in the right direction towards environmental conservation and safeguarding of people’s health.

Personal Health Concerns: Reason for the Shift Towards Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

Cleaning products are necessary to the maintenance of healthful and aesthetic conditions in indoor environments including homes, hospitals, schools, and workplaces. Synthetic cleaners are highly effective in removing stains, allergens, and infectious pathogens but they have linked to a variety of deleterious health effects. The increasing awareness of the health hazards from traditional cleaners propelled the rapid growth of the green cleaning industry in recent decades. Personal health concern presents as a main reason for the shift to eco-friendly cleaning products.

Conventional cleaning agents may contain chemical ingredients considered to be carcinogens, asthmagens, reproductive toxins, or noxious air pollutants (California Department of Public Health, 2017). They vary in the type of health hazards they pose on consumers. Some of these effects may be acute including irritation of the eyes, skin, respiratory airways, and lungs while others may be chronic or long-term including serious chemical burns, cancer, and hormone disruptions (Organic Consumers Association, 2019). Volatile organic compounds that are commonly emitted by these products are associated with increased risk for asthma, cancer, liver and kidney damage as well as impairment of  neurologic functioning (“Indoor Air Quality,” 2018). The increasing public awareness of these health concerns has been substantially factorial to the rising demands of green cleaning products as an eco-friendly and safer alternative to traditional cleaners.

In a study conducted by Haystack Group Survey and Mintel Survey, results reveal that the prime motivator to the shift to eco-friendly cleaning practices was personal health concerns. Forty percent of the respondents indicated allergies as a reason for purchasing green products (Yeomans, McKeon , McKeon, & Mitchell, 2010).

Dominant Consumption Factors in Green Consumerism:

Explaining the Popularity of Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

Eco-friendly products are commonly described as environmentally conscious, minimally packaged, non-toxic, and organic (Khaola, Potiane, & Mokhethi, 2014; Mostafa, 2007). Demand for these products has escalated significantly over the past two decades as the general public has become more aware of environmental and health issues perpetuated by megacorporations (Dangelico & Pontrandolfo, 2010; Prieto-Sandoval, Alfaro, Meji?a-Villa, & Ormazabal, 2016). The literature on green product consumption suggests that there are three dominant factors that have influenced the growing popularity of eco-friendly cleaning products. The purpose of this paper is to argue that the most important factors influencing this trend include environmental concerns, safety concerns, and an increase in the accessibility of green products.

Literature Review

Environmental concern can be described as the understanding that the environment is harmed through pollution and the abuse of natural resources by humans (Franzen & Meyer, 2010; Khaola et al., 2014; Zhou, 2013). In studies performed before the turn of the 21st century, it appears that this awareness was limited to certain privileged socio-economic groups (Berger & Corbin, 1992; Karp, 1996; Straughan & Roberts, 1999). In contrast to these older studies, contemporary research suggests that the environmentally concerned consumer is not confined to a specific social strata (Testa, Iraldo, Vaccari, & Ferrari, 2013). This dissemination of social concern demonstrates that environmental consciousness is permitting diverse groups of people; and thus, the prevalence of such thought is growing in popularity.

What does it mean to clean green? Currently, more people are inclined to live a sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle from the food they eat to the products they use. This phenomenon has led to the emergence of eco-friendly or green products that claim to be more sustainable compared to traditional products. What sets a green product apart from its traditional counterparts is that the product should be made with the fewest raw materials and produced with the least amount of contaminants released into the environment with minor to no effect on human health (Markus, 2003). When it comes to cleaning products, people still opt to purchase traditional versions given the cheaper price despite studies that prove its health damaging effects. Despite costing more, eco-friendly cleaning products are a safer and sustainable alternative to traditional non-eco-friendly cleaning products because there are less health risks involved with its use.

Traditional or non-eco-friendly cleaning products contain surfactants, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs), and other health-damaging chemicals which alter hormonal regulation and have potential effects on metabolism, reproductive, and nervous systems (Dodson, Nishioka, Standley, Perovich, Brody, & Rudel, 2012, p. 935). In addition, these ingredients are harmful to human health and may lead to dermal and respiratory complications due to asthmagens and carcinogens (Garza, Cavallari, Wakai, Schenck, Simcox, Morse, Meyer, & Cherniack, 2015, p. 988). Aside from harmful effects to human health, traditional cleaning products can also negatively impact the environment, affecting air quality and wildlife reproduction (Garza et al., 2015, p. 988). Given this evidence, it is alarming how manufacturers are still allowed to distribute everyday products that are harmful to consumers. Therefore, it is up to the consumers to educate themselves and evaluate the products they will purchase for their homes as well as know its contents.


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