Cleaning your house is generally considered to be a good job that’s worthwhile and good for you and your environment. However, while a clean home is no doubt always going to be preferable to a messy one and it’s certainly more hygienic, sometimes the cleaning products we use are actually more damaging to the environment than the moderate grime that was there before.
The great news is though that there are many different green cleaning products that you can use around the home that are better for the environment and that can’t do any damage to your health either. And in many cases these products are nicer smelling and cheaper to use as well, so there really is no reason not to make the switch. Here we’ll look at some of the best green cleaning products and how to make your house shine in an eco-conscious way.
Things to Avoid
There are many things to avoid when cleaning the home and these include things like bleach and antibacterial soap which can cause more harm than good. Many studies have shown that your hands are no cleaner after using an antibacterial soap than they are using good old normal soap and water. Furthermore, if you use antibacterial products you risk breeding ‘super germs’ which simply become resistant to conventional cleaning products and so are more hazardous to both you and your environment. Meanwhile while bleach won’t kill you it can still do subtle damage to you and the environment too and particularly in the case of chlorinated bleach. On its own bleach is a toxic product and when added to chlorine it becomes more likely to become a gas after contact with ammonia (found in urine) meaning that we then end up breathing it in. Meanwhile the bleach that builds up in your kitchen can eventually find its way into the soil, the water supply and elsewhere where it might cause damage to the local ecosystem.
As such then it’s crucial to avoid these products if you want to live a green lifestyle – but that doesn’t mean you should live in squalor. Instead then there are fortunately a number of other products you can use which include those you can buy in stores and those you can make yourself.
If you want to disinfect something for instance then often boiling water will do a perfectly fine job and few germs will survive your pouring a kettle over them. Better yet is to use baking soda and vinegar which is a natural cleaning product you can make yourself that’s also very effective and nice smelling. Either vinegar or baking soda will work well as a cleaning product on their own due to their acidic nature, but when you mix them together you cause a multi-step reaction wherein the acetic acid in the vinegar reacts with the sodium bicarbonate in the baking soda creating carbonic acid. That carbonic acid is unstable though and immediately becomes carbon dioxide and water and those tiny bubbles help the cleaning process along further.
There are many green cleaning products you can buy in stores too though and it simply takes a little discernment on your part to find them. In the US there the Environmental Protection Agency (or EPA) labels products that meet their criteria for chemicals with their ‘Design for the Environment’ label. If you seek these out then you can clean your home in confidence. Otherwise look for products that are marked as having ‘low VOC’ – these should be safe for human and animal health. Look around and experiment with a few different ones until you find brands that you like and that you are confident are healthy and kind to the environment.
There are other considerations too though if you want to be entirely eco-friendly when cleaning and it’s important to remember that you aren’t the only person using cleaning products that find their way into your home. For instance if you use a dry cleaner then it’s crucial to note that they might well use a solvent called ‘perchlorethylene’ which is also mildly toxic and known for creating a smog. Green dry cleaning methods on the other hand include carbon dioxide cleaning and ‘green earth’. Look for dry cleaners that advertise these methods and you will benefit from more green cleaning products.
Another tip is to consider using a green cleaning service. This way you won’t have to worry yourself about the products you are using, though it will of course cost you more. Just as long as you remember that cleaning services you use regularly and as a one off (including carpet cleaning companies) may well be using products that aren’t that environmentally friendly – you should always talk with them and find out precisely how they go about doing their job.