Normal cleaning products have to pass certain standards to be allowed to use in the household, so why worry about the products you use?
According to the EPA, the chemical risk of common household products is uncertain, but probably low.
However, even if the chemicals used are low risk, there is still some risk. This could be hazardous, especially around young children and pets.
So what are the problems caused by the chemicals in everyday products? (According to the EPA)
- Chemicals are released into the environment through evaporation and drainage
- Certain ingredients cause skin and eye irritation
- Ingredients containing phosphorus or nitrogen can disrupt the quality of local bodies of water
- Volatile organic compounds (VOC) reduce air quality and contribute to smog formation
Using products that don’t have hazardous chemicals will keep your home clean and healthy, while also minimizing the effect on the environment.
Finding safe cleaning products requires some work, however, not every “green” product is what they seem. Just because the label says, “environmentally friendly,” “eco-safe,” or something similar, you should still investigate all your options. Don’t trust the labels.
Manufacturers don’t have to name ingredients that are considered trade secrets and can use impossibly vague terms like “fragrance.”
This post will both list some recommendations for truly green products, the ingredients you need to make your own solutions, and which products you should avoid.
What to Look for in Cleaning Products
These are the things you want to look for when you purchase cleaning products:
- Doesn’t contain:
- Corrosive or irritating substances
- Substances classified as carcinogens or toxicants
- Ozone-depleting compounds
- Regulated hazardous materials
- Uses renewable resources
- Low VOC content
- Low toxicity
- Low flammability
- Designed for use in cold water (for energy savings)
Now that you know what to look for, here are some options for green cleaning. All of the products recommended received an “A” rating in Environmental Working Group’s database of products.
Alternatives to Commercial Products
Now you know the risks of common products, and what to look for. What about some natural alternatives?
Below is a mix of products that use safe ingredients, or alternatives to the common chemical solutions.
All-Purpose cleaners are great for… well, everything! Wiping off countertops, tidying up the bathroom or just a bit of spot cleaning. Here are a few good ones:
- AspenClean All-Purpose Cleaner
- Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
- Green Shield Organic All-Purpose Cleaner/Degreaser
- …and many more.
Keeping your clothes clean can be a challenge, here are some good products to make sure everything stays fresh:
- biokleen Laundry Liquid
- Fit Organic Laundry Detergent
- Seventh Generation Natural Powder Laundry Detergent
- …and many more.
Cutting through grease is tough, but it’s still possible with these green options:
- Better Life Dishwasher Gel
- Fit Organic Dishwasher Gel
- Nature Clean Automatic Dishwasher Pacs
- Sun & Earth Dishwashing Liquid Extra Concentrated
- …and many more.
Use these products to keep your bathroom looking spotless, and most importantly, safe for everyone you care about:
- AspenClean Bathroom Cleaner
- CLR Calcium, Lime, Rust Cleaner
- Seventh Generation Tub & Tile Natural Cleaner
- …and a few more.
What Ingredients are Safe?
Making your own cleaning solutions is the best way to ensure you keep everything as green and safe as possible. Here are some great natural ingredients for keeping things clean:
- Baking Soda: The old stand-by. It cleans, deodorizes, and so much more. It’s always good to keep a box in the house.
- Unscented soap: Soap is biodegradable and will clean fairly well. Be careful about getting soaps that use petroleum distillates.
- Lemon juice: Lemon juice contains an extremely strong citric acid that snuffs out bacteria. Plus you can drink whatever is left after you finish the job!
- White vinegar: Grease has a rough time fighting against vinegar. It can also be used to remove mildew, odors, and stains.
- Ethanol (grain alcohol): A better choice than rubbing alcohol, this can be used for cleaners and disinfectants.
- Hydrogen Peroxide: Great as a disinfectant, it also has a mild bleaching effect that makes it a decent stain remover.
Recipes for All-Natural Cleaning
- All-Purpose Cleaner:
- ½ cup vinegar
- ¼ cup baking soda
- ½ gallon of water
- Use like you would any other cleaner
- Mold Prevention
- Mix a 1:2 solution of hydrogen peroxide to water
- Spray on areas with mold
- Wait an hour, then rinse
- For tough mold, use full strength vinegar and scrub
- Carpet Freshener
- 10-20 drops of essential oil
- 1 cup of baking soda
- Sprinkle liberally on the carpet
- Allow it to sit for a few hours, then vacuum
- Carpet Stain Remover
- Mix a 1:1 solution of white vinegar and water
- Spray directly on the stain
- Allow it to sit for about 10 minutes
- Clean with a brush and warm, soapy water
Now You’re Cleaning with Power
With this information, you’re now ready to keep your living space spotless, but without the harmful chemicals!
Encouraging others to switch over to green cleaning products will have a great long-term effect on us and the environment.