We only have one planet and with the world being more mindful of their consumption, we are taking the step in the right direction. As an individual, it may seem that there isn’t much we can do the change the current environmental status but taking small steps is a big step. One of the steps we can take is changing how we clean our homes.
Synthetic detergent took place for cleaning in 1916, and it did not take long for synthetic cleaners to follow. A century later, lessons have been learned regarding chemicals and the harm caused to the planet. With a more significant focus on changing to green cleaning, research has also found that some natural products are just as beneficial as synthetic cleaners.
Dangers of Synthetic Cleaners
We’ve all heard that synthetic cleaners can be bad for you, but what ingredients should we be avoiding? Keep reading for some common ingredients in synthetic cleaners and other products you use on a regular basis.
Phosphates were widely used in the 1960s to soften water and enhance cleaning power. However, it was discovered that this chemical was forming excess algae growth in rivers and seas. As a result, the oxygen supply to many plants and animals was depleted.
DEA and TEA
Diethanolamine and Triethanolamine are two chemicals that cause suds in our cleaning water. They also threaten our fish life in streams and rivers. Instead of breaking down when reaching water and soil, they can reach toxic levels.
Companies that add fragrances to cleaning products are not required to list the actual mixture of chemicals. However, it is known that phthalates have been found in many air fresheners and that this ingredient can influence asthma and trigger allergies.
Tips to Avoid Harmful Ingredients
Other ingredients to try and avoid are bleach, chlorine, and ammonia. Despite found in many common household products, not only do they harm the environment, but they can also be harmful to your health and body.
If you’re unsure about how harmful a cleaning product may be, often the worse the smell, the higher percentage of chemicals make up the product
Natural cleaning alternatives are great because we often already have these ingredients at home.
Lemons have excellent properties for removing soap scum and water deposits. When used for cleaning the bathroom, you do not have the acids found in harsh cleaners that can harm your respiratory system. Mix with water and spray or make a paste with baking soda and rub for stubborn areas. Lemons are also naturally fragrant, so no air fresheners are needed. You can also polish fine furniture to a brilliant shine by mixing 1 cup olive oil with 1/2 cup lemon juice and placing it in a spray bottle.
Sprinkle baking soda on sinks and countertops and scrub just like you would a non-abrasive cleanser. Sprinkle in trash cans to help eliminate odors. Set an opened box in the refrigerator and freezer to help reduce the smell.
Vinegar has the dual effect of cleaning and deodorizing. In addition to being an excellent alternative to all-purpose cleaners, vinegar leaves behind a fresh shine on floors. Mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle and use in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room. Use as a natural fabric softener. Pour 1/2 cup of vinegar into the rinse cycle of your laundry and clothes will come out soft. This also aids in keeping the inside of your washer clean. Use vinegar as a solution for cleaning carpets. Trapped bacteria and allergens will be dissolved and whisked away. Don’t worry about the smell of vinegar. It will disappear as soon as it dries.
Bacteria can quickly spread through cell phones, keyboards, and other electronic equipment. Rubbing alcohol will kill bacteria on surfaces where fingers are frequently used. Also wipe on light switches, appliance handles, and bathroom faucets. The alcohol will evaporate quickly so there is no need for rinsing.
Cloth Rags vs Paper Towels
It is easy to grab a paper towel when cleaning. However, when soiled or dampened, it goes into the trash and ends up in a landfill. Lint-free rags can be machine washed and used time and time again. These include old t-shirts or cloth diapers. Keep cut-up squares available in your kitchen and cleaning closet and get into the habit of grabbing a repurposed rag instead of a paper towel.
Tips for Green Cleaning
If you’re still new to green cleaning and am low on time, there’s also the option to hire an eco-friendly professional cleaner. There are cleaning companies where you can hire cleaners that use environmentally friendly products and also get to your destination via public transport or walking to reduce their environmental footprint.
Many companies are now coming out with natural cleaners. Always read the label thoroughly. Adding a few natural ingredients but including a few chemicals can be misleading. Cutting back on any amount of chemicals is helpful, but don’t be fooled into thinking that it is 100% natural.