Lots of cleaning products for the home can contain harmful ingredients— whether it’s substances that irritate the skin and respiratory system or chemicals that can poison aquatic systems and contaminate the food chain. Here, we explain how to make the switch to greener, more eco-friendly cleaning methods and products.
Do it yourself
While there are a wealth of ‘green’ cleaning products on the market that purport to be environmentally friendly, make sure you investigate them thoroughly before buying as many still contain ingredients that can be harmful. You can also very easily make your own cleaning products using cheap, everyday ingredients. Substances like vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and lemon juice can be used to clean almost anything.
Ditch the (antibacterial) soap
It’s a common assumption that we need to use anti-bacterial soaps to clean our hands, but evidence has shown that it could do more harm than good. Your skin is populated with million of microorganism, most of them neutral or beneficial, and using anti-bacterial soap can strip all of these all away—as well the skin’s natural oils. There’s also concern that using anti-bacterial soap can lead to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant germs. The U.S Food and Drug Administration has stated that using antibacterial soap is no more effective at preventing illness than using ordinary soap and water.
See also: Make your Garden Greener
Keep it fresh
Air fresheners only mask smells and can cause allergies. Many air fresheners also contain phthalates, which have been linked to a variety of health issues. Instead, try combining bicarbonate of soda and your favourite essential oil in a spray bottle for your own home made air freshener.
Change your dry cleaner
Most dry cleaners use a solvent called perchloroethylene to clean clothes. This is a known health and environmental hazard that has been identified by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency as possible carcinogen, as well being associated with a host of chronic health problems. Opt for greener cleaning methods such as wet cleaning, which uses water and specialised equipment and mild detergents, or carbon dioxide cleaning, which uses non-toxic liquid CO2 as the cleaning solvent, alongside detergent.
Household staples: everyday products you can use to clean your home
As mentioned earlier, many basic ingredients you can find in your kitchen cupboards can be used to safely clean your house. Here’s a list of some of the most useful ones.
Bicarbonate of soda: one of the most handy ingredients in your kitchen, this multi-purpose product is a natural abrasive that can be used to clean almost everything—from toilets to polishing silverware. It’s also a deodoriser, removing unpleasant smells.
Lemon juice: if you’re looking for an effective bacteria killer then lemon juice is your best friend. Its high acid content means that it works as a natural disinfectant.
White vinegar: this hard-working ingredient can remove grease, mildew, odours and some stains, working particularly well on glass, metal and other smooth surfaces. It also works as a mould killer. Just be careful with some surfaces like marble and stone as it could change their colour.
Corn flour: this can be used to clean windows, polish furniture and clean carpets and rugs. It will also get rid of greasy stains on clothes.
Knowledge is power
Just because a cleaning product says ‘eco’, ‘natural’ or ‘green’ on the label doesn’t mean it’s environmentally friendly. The Environmental Working Group is a not-for-profit group dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. Their Guide to Healthy Cleaning contains an extensive database of cleaning products that have been thoroughly assessed on their impact on health and the environment, so you can make informed choices on what cleaning products you buy.
See also: Roof Garden: The New Eco Trend