Green and clean remains a hard sell in a lean economy.
The New York Times reported in April of 2011 that ‘Green‘ household products had lost significant market share from 2006 to 2011, as consumers returned to purchasing less expensive name brands for bathroom cleaners, bleach, detergents, and soap. In a tough economy, environmentally benign alternatives to toxic name brands continue to face tough competition.
Green cleaners fight an uphill battle to establish market share and build wider distribution. Meanwhile, cheaper name brand rivals enjoy massive advertising budgets and a history of consumer loyalty. However, ignorance may be the biggest obstacle that green cleaning products have yet to overcome.
What you don’t know can kill you.
U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce believes that once consumers learn to take a hard look at the harsh chemicals comprising a name brand’s lemon-scented sparkle, they will ultimately consider safer alternatives before bringing “harmful” or “fatal” chemical compounds into their homes. A healthy fear of caustic ingredients that pollute the environment, while bearing the potential to harm, hospitalize, or kill every creature in your household, sounds like a common sense to us.
In their blog entitled Eco-Friendly Home Cleaning, National Geographic actively educates readers about alternative cleaners that don’t pollute, cause health issues, or harm our environment. The good news is that green cleaners don’t have to tax the budgets of thrifty consumers.
Anyone with the skill to whip up a bowl of pancake batter should consider making green cleaners, following simple home recipes that use harmless natural ingredients. Better still, you won’t have to warn off pets and children, know the number of your local poison control center, or slip into a hazmat suit before cleaning the bathroom. We’ll take a look at Nat Geo’s strategies for choosing friendly solutions, and will finish with some easy-to-make recipes for a nontoxic household.
Look on your store shelves for all-purpose cleaners, laundry detergents and other cleaning products that carry labels signifying that the ingredients are effective and safe for the environment.
The Design for the Environment label, sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indicates that every ingredient in that product was assessed and deemed minimally toxic to humans and animals, and less harmful to the environment than other chemicals of the same type.
Another eco-friendly label comes from Green Seal, an independent, nonprofit environmental certification group that evaluates and recommends products based on their effectiveness and environmental impact.
Make Your Own Solutions
The safest cleaning solutions are ones made entirely from natural ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda and hot water.
A mixture of 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1/2 gallon of water makes a safe and effective all-purpose cleaning solution.
For an effective homemade toilet bowl cleaner, combine 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1 cup of vinegar. These mixtures are nontoxic and have a minimal environmental impact.
Choose to Reuse
Professional janitors have found that cleaning with microfiber cloths or cotton rags instead of disposable paper towels requires less cleaning solution and reduces waste. This eco-friendly cleaning strategy transfers easily to a home setting. A coarse-textured fabric such as terrycloth, soaked in hot water, removes most dirt and grime from kitchen and bathroom surfaces. When you are finished cleaning, simply wash the rags with your towels and store the rags with your cleaning supplies.
Hire Eco-Friendly Professionals
When you need to hire a professional cleaning crew to steam your carpets or provide other periodic thorough cleaning, patronize companies that use environmentally friendly products. Before you hire a service that claims to be eco-friendly, ask to see the labels of the cleaning products it uses. If the products require hazardous waste disposal, they are not environmentally friendly.
How to Spring Clean With Nontoxic Home-made Products
What you’ll need: White vinegar (kills most mold, bacteria, and germs); baking soda (deodorizes, scours surfaces, and is a natural cleaning agent); lemon juice (it has antibacterial and antiseptic qualities, is a natural bleach, and it controls odors); olive oil (polishes); salt (scours, cleans, and deodorizes); tea tree oil (kills germs); hydrogen peroxide (kills bacteria and mold); pure castile soap, such as Dr. Bronner’s (cleanses); empty spray bottles and reusable rags; essential oils whose smell you enjoy.
All-purpose cleaner. Equal parts vinegar and water. The vinegar smell dissipates as soon as it dries, but if it bothers you,add a few drops of lemon juice. Put into a spray bottle and use for almost all of your cleaning.
Windows and mirror cleaner. Pour a quarter of a cup of vinegar in a spray bottle, and fill the rest with with warm water. A bit of Eucalyptus oil rubbed on the mirrors will prevent them from fogging up.
Floor soap. Fill a bucket with warm or hot water, add a quarter of a cup of vinegar and a dash of castile soap. Dunk your rag in the bucket, ring out, and wipe down the floors.
Carpet deodorizer. For general cleaning on light colored rugs, sprinkle baking soda before you vacuum. For stains, mix equal parts borax or baking soda, salt, and white vinegar. Apply the paste to the stain and let dry, then vacuum.
Tubs, counter tops, and sink scrub. Mix baking soda with a bit of Castile soap. You can add an essential oil for fragrance if you’d like. Scrub and rinse.
Oven cleaner. Combone three parts baking soda, one part salt, and one part water. Spread the mixture across the oven surface and let sit for eight hours. Scrape and wipe clean.
Natural drain cleaner. Take a half a cup of baking soda and pour it down the drain, followed by half a cup of vinegar. Let it fizz, then flush with hot water.
Wood cleaner. Mix two parts olive oil with one part lemon juice. Rub the mixture into the furniture with a soft cloth and wipe away excess.
Moldy grout remover. Mix a half a cup of hydrogen peroxide with one cup of water. Spray it on the moldy area, let it sit for 1 hour, and rinse.
Shower spray. Fill a spray bottle with water and five to 10 drops of tea tree oil. Keep this in your shower. Shake up and spray after each shower. This will keep mold and mildew at bay. Replace it biweekly.
Toilet. Mix a quarter of a cup of baking soda with one cup of vinegar. Pour the liquid into the basin and let sit for a few minutes. Scrub and flush.
Stainless steel polish. Rub a little olive oil on the surface to remove streaks and prints.
Marble, granite, or stone counter top cleaner. These materials require a different cleanser because the acidity of vinegar can etch the surface. Instead, substitute rubbing alcohol or vodka for vinegar in your all-purpose cleaner.
Air freshener. Simmer a pot of water with cinnamon sticks and cloves or and a few drops of an essential oil you like on the stove.
- Green Spring Cleaning: The Almighty All-Purpose Cleaner (perfectshinehousekeeping.wordpress.com)
- How to Keep Your Apartment Cleaning Earth-Friendly (apartmentguide.com)
- 6 eco-friendly products that do their jobs – MiamiHerald.com (miamiherald.com)
- Homemade Household Cleaners for when the SHTF (prepandgo.wordpress.com)
- 10 Eco-Friendly All-Purpose Cleaners for a Clean, Toxic Chemical-Free Home (treehugger.com)