Green cleaning can make your home healthier and save you money. Curious about the connection between cleaning and healthy? Our homes are getting more airtight to save energy and that means the air inside our house doesn't get exchanged frequently enough with cleaner, outdoor air.
Green cleaning means not using all the cleaning products on the market because they're laden with chemicals that aren't healthy — they affect what's called Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and often, they contribute to common illnesses like asthma. Not convinced? We've gotsome facts, recommendations and tips on products that can keep you healthy while saving you money — hint, we like e-Cloth (starter pack shown here) as it saves trees too!
Green Cleaning Facts
In our consumer driven economy, there are lots of cleaning products for almost any type of cleaning project. What that means is we've got too many chemicals stuffed under our kitchen sinks, in bathroom vanities, over the washing machine and wherever else we store cleaning products (maybe that's another article waiting to be written). But wait, they're now introducing green versions of these same cleaning products and will you really through the old products out?
The question is whether we need to buy cleaning products at all? You can use vinegar, baking soda and warm water to make your own all-purpose cleaner, that will clean almost anything. Imagine getting rid of all those unhealthy cleaning products in your home and if you're still not sure, here are some facts to help you decide why green cleaning is right for your family's health.
- There are 17,000 petrochemicals available for home use but only 30% have been tested for exposure to human health and the environment.
- We have an average of 63 synthetic chemical products in our homes, or roughly 10 gallons of harmful chemicals.
- The EPA estimates indoor air pollution levels can be 100 times above outdoor air pollution levels, but unlike government monitoring of outdoor air pollution — who's monitoring your home's air?
Green Cleaning Recommendations
No one is suggesting you toss all your cleaning products at once. The green movement is about changing how you make decisions, i.e. think before you buy any new cleaning products — do you have time to make your own green cleaning mixture? do you know how to tell which green cleaning products are really green? Here are some ideas for starting to shift to green cleaning practices.
- Start by trying out a green cleaning mixture on one job you do frequently. Google to find one of the many recipes online and try it several times to make sure you're happy with the results, and then toss the old cleaning product.
- … but toss these toxic cleaners carefully. If they're not good for your home, they'll also harm water supplies and the landfill so check with your town for their next recycling day for toxic chemicals and electronics.
- When cleaning your home, keep the windows open to allow fresh air to come in and replace your unhealthy indoor air.
- Avoid antibacterial soaps and hand cleansers which the FDA has found, don't work better than regular soap and water.
- Use houseplants to fight air pollution in your home. Plants can scrub (remove) harmful gases out of the air, and absorb some harmful pollutants like benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.
- Stop buying air fresheners and instead, try boiling cinnamon, cloves or other herbs, or so some baking with your kids, i.e. chocolate chip cookies smell great.
- Find green cleaning services to replace those you're using unless they have plans to change the products they use. Conventional dry cleaners use perchloroethylene (perc) which is toxic and similarly, if you have a cleaning service that comes to your home, you want one that uses green products.
Favorite Green Cleaning Products
Do you have different cleaning styles in your house? I've always preferred the simplicity of a sponge, water and a little elbow grease for all but the toughest cleaning jobs. My husband prefers to “let the chemicals” do the work for him, so I was pleasantly surprised when he recently said he liked the e-cloth I bought — he noticed they really absorb the water!
Green cleaning includes the products used to clean and the tools to apply and rinse off the cleaning solutions. ecloth is more absorbant and because you can wash them 300 times before replacing them, they're more cost effective than paper towels and save trees too. Here's a short video that explains more about ecloth.
When it comes to green cleaning products, focus on the ingredients. Green cleaning products should use ingredients that are biodegradable, use renewable (or recycled) resources, have low or no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), no dyes unless by the FDA and not contain anything toxic. There are many many companies claiming they have green cleaning products so how do you know they're green? One easy way is to look for Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) that explain what's in the product. Seventh Generation offers MSDSs for all their products, and have been a leader for years (learn about their “green tissues”).