A great article from the Greenguide.com
What Cleaning-Product Ingredients to Avoid
By Mindy Pennybacker
March 1, 2006GREEN CLEANING? LOOK AT THE LABEL
Here's help in judging "green" claims on cleaning product packages.
Biodegradable: This unregulated term is meaningful only if it specifies the amount of time it takes for the product to decompose, as most substances will eventually biodegrade over time given the right conditions, such as sunlight.
Non-toxic: There is no official definition or third-party verification for this claim. Not meaningful.
Organic: Household cleaning products aren't regulated by the Organic Foods Production Act, but some of their ingredients, such as plant oils, can be labeled "certified organic."
For more info, see ecolabels.org.INGREDIENTS TO AVOID
Alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs), common in detergents and disinfectants, are suspected hormone disruptors.
Ammonia is poisonous when swallowed, extremely irritating to respiratory passages when inhaled and can burn the skin on contact.
Indiscriminate use of Antibacterial cleansers containing triclosan may be contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant germs.
Butyl cellosolve (aka butyl glycol, ethylene glycol monobutyl) is poisonous when swallowed and a lung-tissue irritant.
Chlorine bleach (aka sodium hypochlorite), an all-purpose whitening agent, can irritate the lungs and eyes and in waterways can become toxic organochlorines.
Diethanolamine (DEA) can combine with nitrosomes (often-undisclosed preservatives) to produce carcinogenic nitrosamines that penetrate skin.
Fragrance frequently contains phthalates, chemicals linked to reproductive abnormalities and liver cancer in lab animals and to asthma in children.
Phosphates soften water for detergents but contribute to algae blooms in our waterways, which can kill off fish populations.
Sodium hydroxide, found in drain, metal and oven cleaners, is extremely irritating to eyes, nose and throat and can burn those tissues on contact.
Sodium lauryl sulfate, a common sudsing agent, can penetrate the skin and cause contact dermatitis.