Cleaning chemicals will disinfect a home, but there’s a price beyond their sticker cost. They leave chemical residue on both household surfaces and in the air, causing eczema, eye irritation, breathing issues, and allergies. Often with labels reading “Flammable” and “Poison,” it’s no secret that these cleaners pose a large threat in any home, especially those with children or pets.
Fortunately, there’s a quiet revolution in cleaning. The “green cleaning” movement aims to cut these harmful products’ use, while retaining the ability to keep up a clean home. Green cleaning won’t produce that near-sterile home feel, but it will cut the number of cleaning products you need and paradoxically, make your home an easier place to live and breathe.
Those spray-on carpet cleaners that supposedly make the job faster, do so at a price. They leave residual chemicals behind that irritate the eyes, skin, and lungs of pets and small children. Instead, use a steam cleaner with water; do not add detergent.
Or if you’re able, get rid of your old carpeting completely and replace them with new modular carpet tiles, or area rugs that can actually be taken up and cleaned more easily by hand. Laminate floors, or vinyl floors that are easy to clean with just a damp mop – and no chemicals needed.
All you have to do to prevent dirt from penetrating beyond the doorway is to wipe your feet thoroughly when entering the house. We’re talking about the classic “Welcome” mat, of course. The more dirt you leave on the welcome mat, the less dirt will be tracked into the rest of the house. And therefore, the less harsh cleaning products you’ll need. Remove your shoes at the door for an even more efficient way to keep dirt out of the house.
Less dirt, fewer chemicals, better air quality, less impact on our environment.
Scrub your kitchen and bathroom sinks with a powder made from baking soda and essential oils. Unlike commercial products that irritate the nasal passages with their chemically induced aura of sterility, this powder exerts a calming influence. It’s also easy to change the aroma by using different essential oils in each batch.
Combine lemons, limes, and vinegar to make a lemon-lime spray that cuts grease, cleans soap scum, pre-treats stained laundry, and leaves a pleasant natural aroma behind. Add baking soda for more cleaning power.
Using this spray entails some caution; don’t use it on marble, keep it away from your eyes, and don’t mix with bleach. Even with these limits, it’s still a better solution that will eliminate the need for deodorant sprays that use allergy-inducing chemicals to create their scent.
Use a pumice stone to rub out stubborn ring stains in toilet bowls. The stone, mixed with some elbow grease, removes many stains without chemical help. Or, if you don’t want to get too up close and personal, a brisk wire brushing or stiff-brustled toilet brush mixed with a bit of salt, vinegar, and baking soda can help you bridge the gap quite nicely.
Changing your strategy
Changing your housecleaning strategy to a green approach has advantages beyond health. You’ll save storage space by replacing multiple cleaning products with one or two green equivalents. You’ll also gain more control over exactly what goes into your cleaning products because you can make many green substitutes yourself.
The best thing of all is saving money by using common household substances such as baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and vinegar to help with your cleaning chores.
Your green cleaning strategies?
How do you reduce the use of chemicals in your weekly cleaning regimen?
What green cleaning product recipes have you found to be effective? Which ones aren’t?
Where are the problem areas in your home that are the biggest challenges when it comes to cleaning?
Tell us all about it in the comments section.