More and more people are considering how they can change their consumption habits to help protect and preserve our planet, from the carbon footprint of their travel, to how they select and prepare their meals. Another area of daily life where our choices impact on the environment is home cleaning. Introducing an Earth friendly cleaning routine at home needn’t be a major inconvenience, yet can make a drastic difference to the environmental footprint of your household.
Is your cleaning equipment environmentally friendly?
The more durable your cleaning equipment is, the more eco-friendly it is. Throwing out just a few of sponges a week amounts to a massive amount per household over time. You can, however, prolong the lifetime of grubby sponges by soaking them in vinegar for a few minutes, then washing and soaking them in plain water.
Mops with microfiber heads can be washed and reused, so they last longer than those without a microfiber head. You should also opt for biodegradable products (for example mops and brooms with wooden handles) and cellulose sponges. If you can’t find biodegradable ones, you can get products made from recycled plastic, in order to contribute to the market for recycled materials.
Avoid hazardous ingredients
Most strong cleaning products contain harmful chemicals, for example formaldehyde and chloroform (found in chlorine bleach and also suspect carcinogen) or Triclosan which can particularly harmful to the environment. Keep an eye out for, and avoid, these ingredients as well as flammable, antibacterial or poisonous products.
It is a common misconception that these types of products will do a better job on merit of their harsher ingredients. However, you can easily have the same results with natural cleaning products. Of course, it depends on how much time you have, and the effort you are able to put in, as strong chemicals can sometimes get the job done quicker. But by committing a little time to using natural cleaning products you will achieve the same results in a much more eco-friendly manner! Homemade green cleaning products are also safer and often much cheaper.
Switch to natural cleaning products
There are plenty of environmentally friendly cleaning solutions that don’t use harmful chemicals. There is very little that can’t be cleaned in the home with vinegar, baking soda and lemons. Coffee and olive oil also make very potent cleaners.
Vinegar and lemons work as a sterilizing agent, they fight lime scale and help to remove bad smells. Use them to clean surfaces and decalcify mineral deposits (in the coffee pot, for example). Just be careful where you use acidic ingredients – some types of stone, for example, will not like it.
Baking soda is perfect for deep cleaning the oven or toilet. Mix it with water to make a paste and cover the inside of the oven. Leave it to stand overnight, and wipe off the baking soda mix (using a spatula where it has dried tougher) and watch the grime fall away. For the toilet, mix baking soda with vinegar and pour it in the toilet bowl. Leave it to sit for 20 minutes, scrub, and then flush. Simple as that!
A few drops of olive oil is perfect for polishing steel surfaces and door handles after cleaning. For smelly sinks just mix olive oil and a few drops of essential oils and rinse down your sink – et voilà, your kitchen smells fresh again!
Coffee grounds do a great job of fighting kitchen odours. Place coffee grounds on the countertop and bad odours will disappear from your kitchen within only a few hours. Give your fridge and garbage a coffee break once in a while too – place a small bowl of coffee grounds at the bottom of the trash can or in the fridge. Mixed with water, coffee is also an effective way to clean your dishes. Wipe the dishes with your coffee – water mix, let the dishes soak for a few hours, then wipe away the grime.
Ban synthetic air fresheners
After a long day at work, getting through the front door and taking a deep breathe at home is one of the most satisfying feelings. So we are constantly on the hunt for air fresheners for the bathroom, kitchen and living room. But tread carefully: chemical fragrances often contain volatile organic compounds (VOC), which can be harmful. According to a study by the University of Washington, air fresheners can release on average 18 chemicals into the atmosphere.
An Earth friendly alternative to a nice smelling home is using a natural reed diffuser and artisanal sprays. You can even create your own environmentally friendly air freshener? Mix: 10 parts warm water, 1 part vinegar, and a dozen or so drops of essential oils (lavender or vanilla for example) in a spray bottle. Vaporize the mix everywhere: carpets, rugs, kitchen, bathroom and curtains for a fresh, clean and green smelling home!
Re-purpose items for green cleaning
There’s plenty of things around the home you might assume are destined for the trash, but are actually pretty potent cleaners. Used coffee grounds, for example, we have already covered. Semi-stale bread can be used to tackle stains on the walls. Wipe the stained area with a cloth, remove the crusts from the bread, roll it into a ball, then rub the wall gently (this also works on more abstract surfaces, like oil paintings). If you have a few sips of beer left from the previous night, don’t pour it down the sink! You can use it to revive wooden furniture, clean your silver and even marinade your dinner.
If we all make just small changes to our cleaning habits, the collective impact on our planet can be vast. And if you have earth friendly cleaning products or equipment, you can ask your cleaner to use these green alternatives the next time you book domestic cleaning.
Until next time xx