Eco-friendly cleaning is important. The environmental impact of cleaning and home maintenance is significant.
Detergents can be up to 40% phosphorous. And of course, there is an entire cabinet full of products with their own unique environmental consequences.
From manufacturing all the way to disposal, cleaning products represent a significant stressor on the health of our environment.
But what is to be done about it?
After all, you can’t exactly stop cleaning your house. You can, however, take a smarter, more environmentally conservative approach to your cleaning. Green cleaning. That is our topic today. What can be done on the home front to ensure that we clean responsibly?
Read on for a guide to some eco-friendly cleaning.
Cutout the Paper Towels
Paper towels may be convenient, but they are also about as unsustainable as it gets. Each little square that you throw away is destined to end up in a landfill. Granted, paper towels do take a relatively short time to decompose—about two months.
Still, when it comes to eco-friendly cleaning, it’s always best to keep waste at a minimum. The solution? Reusable towels. Rags may require a little bit more maintenance, but the reusability factor matters.
If you want to go the extra mile with your recycling, you can even make your own towels. Cutting up an old tee shirt you don’t wear any more gives old products new life. It is also far more sustainable than paper towels. It’s a win, win.
Baking Soda is Your Friend
Baking soda is surprisingly versatile. You can use it to eliminate odor in your carpet, or even to degrease your dishes when mixed with hot water.
Do keep in mind that it isn’t perfect. Some of the ingredients in baking soda are mined, which does have an environmental impact. Still, the finished product is green, and it sure does beat the majority of chemical-heavy cleaners.
Plus, it’s nontoxic. If dissolved in water, you can literally consume baking soda without worry. As a general rule, the fewer chemicals you use, the less impact your cleaning will have on the environment. Baking soda can sub in for a variety of cleaners make it a great option for any home.
Dust Pans are Better Than Vacuums
Vacuums aren’t exactly the scourge of the environment, but they aren’t without their own impact. They use energy, they take up lots of space in the landfill, and of course there is a manufacturing consequence. In short, they leave plenty to be desired for the person wanting to shift towards eco-friendly cleaning.
Dust pans don’t have quite so much baggage. Solution? Sweep when you can. This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever vacuum your carpets. It does mean that you should think about handling small spills the old-fashioned way.
Plugging in your vacuum for every little spill is a big waste of energy. The environment will thank you for spending a little bit more time to keep things green.
Use the Washing Machine Sparingly
Washing machines use lots of energy, chemicals, and water. Not only that, but the clothing fibers that get circulated during the machine washing process have their own consequences. Each garment in the washing machine sheds about 1900 fibers during its trip in the wash. To the naked eye, the impact is small.
The problem? These fibers eventually find their way into our oceans.
Handwashing is a much more environmentally sustainable way to clean your clothes.
Nice sentiment, right? But many people barely have enough time to load and unload the machine. If your life is too hectic for hand washing, you can still do your part to reduce the environmental impact of washing clothes.
Many modern washers and dryers come with eco-friendly cleaning settings. Familiarizing yourself with your washer’s green features is a small but impactful way to make a difference.
Lemons are the Best Lemon Scented Cleaning Product
Many of the chemical heavy cleaning products do what they can to imitate lemons. But why not go for the real thing? Lemon juice, when used the right way can be a powerful and entirely natural cleaning agent.
Through proper methodology, lemons can be used to clean anything from stainless steel to ceilings, floors and walls.
Just keep in mind that there are some steps you will need to remember. To use lemon juice as a cleaning agent, microwave it in a bowl for three minutes, then let it sit for another five. After that, you can apply it to appropriate surfaces using a soft, clean rag.
Lemons provide a refreshing scent, and in cooperation with baking soda and water, they can be powerful degreasers.
Air Fresheners are a no no
We aren’t entirely clear on the environmental impact of air fresheners. Only 10% of air freshener ingredients are even identified for consumers to review.
However, we can infer that they have a negative impact on air quality. The good news is that there are easy solutions Organic potpourri, and houseplants can purify the air quality, and keep your home smelling fresh.
The result? Fewer aerosol cans, and cleaner air for you and your family.
Vinegar is another natural cleaning agent that most people have in their pantries. It isn’t right for everything. If you have hardwoods, or iron products (such as a skillet) you will want to keep vinegar far away. It has properties that can compromise the integrity of wood and iron products.
Vinegar can, however, clean glass and leather with ease.
Going green with your cleaning routine does take some work and some research. The upside is that the environment isn’t the only thing that benefits from eco-friendly cleaning practices.
Eco-friendly cleaning will also be good for the general health and well being of your family. Harsh chemicals and noxious fumes are bad for you, bad for the planet, and bad for your bank book.
Go green when you clean. It’s in everyone’s best interest.
Davis, Jonita. How Does Household Cleaner Impact the Environment? (2019) Retrieved from: https://homeguides.sfgate.com/household-cleaner-affect-environment-79335.html
Material Decomposition: How Long it Takes for Trash to Decompose. Retrieved From https://www.saveonenergy.com/material-decomposition/
Ross, Charlie (2016, July 16) The Damage I Cause When I Wash My Clothes Retrieved from: https://theswatchbook.offsetwarehouse.com/2015/07/16/environmental-impact-of-the-washing-machine/
Steinemann, Anne (2016 November 5) Ten Questions Concerning Air Fresheners and Indoor Built Environments Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360132316304334