Update: This article was revised and updated in August 2020.
Let’s face it, life has become busy. And, when life is not busy, there is cleaning and chores to be done, and who wants to be doing that? As much as we put it off, there comes a time when we need to roll up our sleeves, bust out the cleaning products, and get everything looking spick and span. But what is the right cleaning product to use?
The colorful bottles look appealing when they are on the supermarket shelf, and they make no end of promises as to what they can do, but what can they really do? And what is in them? When you start to read the ingredients, you will be surprised at the number of chemicals which you are spreading around your home.
The cost of these cleaners may seem too good to be true, but the real cost is something that we do not often think about. What if there was a way to get your home clean, save yourself some money, and protect the environment too?
Sounds unbelievable? Well, read on.
What Is Green (Eco-Friendly) Cleaning?
There are many definitions of green cleaning. The goal with eco-friendly cleaning is to use cleaning solutions and methods which not only get the job done but do so while protecting the environment.
Most cleaners contain harmful chemicals that are flushed down the drain and end up out in nature.
By using green products, the remnants of your cleaning products are not harmful when they come into contact with nature.
Substances such as baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice are commonly used to clean and are not harmful to the environment. In fact, they are all products that you would normally consume. Would you consume any of your store-bought cleaners?
Another eco-friendly option is to use a steam cleaner. Steam cleaners use only water to clean, sanitize and disinfect the treated surfaces plus they are environmentally friendly.
- 5 Best Commercial Steam Cleaners for Home and Business Use
- 7 Ways To Use Your Steam Cleaner Like A Pro
Reasons To Start Green Cleaning
Did you know that in the US alone, one in three people suffer from allergies, asthma, sinusitis, or bronchitis? Many cleaning products trigger those conditions due to the synthetic chemicals used in the products.
There are many great reasons to switch to green cleaning products, and most of these concerns the safety of you, your family, and the environment. Here are our top 6 reasons to make the switch.
1. Safer Home
Cleaners are not that bad, are they?
Go take a look at some of the common cleaners that you have around your home. How many have the words ‘Warning‘, ‘Toxic‘, or ‘Flammable‘?
Many chemicals, when mixed together, can become flammable. Many chemicals require you to wear gloves to use them. Many chemicals are dangerous on certain surfaces and materials.
Children and pets, due to their smaller size, are particularly susceptible to these chemicals. They are so dangerous that in 2014, the Utah Poison Control reported that household cleaners were one of the top 3 substances that caused someone to call. Do you really want them in your home?
2. Minimal Or No Health Risks
You only have to read the few paragraphs above to see just how dangerous household cleaners can be. Having them in your home is putting you and your family at risk. If you ditch your store-bought cleaners for green ones, you can actively make your home a safer place.
Green cleaners use natural ingredients. These cleaners pose a minimal risk to those around you and are gentler on your surfaces and the environment.
3. Cleaner Environment
If you want to protect the environment without having to do anything extra, green cleaners are the way to go. You don’t even have to make them yourself. You can buy green cleaners instead of regular cleaners, and actively help the environment every time you clean.
Green cleaners use natural ingredients that are safe, non-toxic, and biodegradable. When you flush the cleaner, along with all of the dirt that it has cleaned up, you are being kind to the outside world. Green cleaning protects your waterways, the ozone, and the climate as a whole.
4. Improved Air Quality
It makes sense that a cleaner, which is bad for your surfaces, your skin, and the environment, is going to be bad for the air around you too. When you clean, there is often a strong smell which we associate with a clean house, but do we really like that smell?
When you green clean, you are using products that naturally smell good and appealing. When you clean using green cleaners, you are enjoying some aromatherapy as you clean.
5. Saving Money
You had me at saving money!
When you create your own green cleaner, you are often using products that you already have around your home, such as vinegar, lemon juice, oils, and more. These products usually cost a lot less than store-bought cleaners. The best part is that you often do not even need to leave the house to make a green cleaner.
More and more companies are also getting in on the action and creating their own green cleaners. The cleaning industry is investing millions in green cleaners that are safer, reduces risks for the employees making them, and protects the buildings in which they are created.
6. Familiar Ingredients
With many cleaning products, there is no requirement to list the ingredients. It may state that the product is harmful to your skin, but it will not tell you why. We recommend that you do your research and find out what is in a cleaning product before using it.
With green cleaners, you have more knowledge of what is inside.
Many companies do not mind listing the natural ingredients as there is no need to hide them and, if you make your own, you know exactly what is in the cleaner.
What’s In Your Regular Cleaning Products?
The Environmental Working Group is a group that studies environmental impact, and a part of that is investigating safety in regards to the environment. In 2010 they examined the 2,000 most commonly used ingredients in chemical cleaners and found that 50% were harmful to your lungs, with 25% having the potential to trigger asthma.
Some of the most harmful chemicals are:
It is often used as a preservative but is also a known carcinogen.
Bleach fumes can affect the respiratory system and often contain chlorine and chloroform. There have even been links between bleach and cancer.
Bleach can also become highly reactive when used in combination with acids, such as vinegar. Dangerous gases can form that can be dangerous to your health.
It may sound innocuous, but the ingredient known as ‘fragrance’ can contain hundreds of different compounds. Phthalates, for example, are an endocrine disruptor. These ‘fragrances’ can also trigger asthma and allergies.
Triclosan has already been banned from hand and body soaps by the FDA, along with almost 20 other anti-bacterial compounds. But, they are often still found in cleaners. They are a part of the reason why many cleaners advise you to wear gloves. They are more chemicals that are added to your cleaners, and they are definitely not safe.
Want to irritate your skin or eyes, then use these chemical compounds. They may be good at removing stubborn laundry stains, but they also make many toxic substances lists.
By The Numbers
- 17,000: Amazingly, the number of petrochemicals that are available for use in the home. Only thirty percent of them have been tested for human safety.
- 23: The gallons of chemicals which the average janitor uses every year. Twenty-five percent of those chemicals are classified as hazardous.
- 275: The number of ingredients in antimicrobials that are classed as pesticides. They are designed to kill microbes, after all.
- 100: Air pollution can be up to 100 times higher indoors than outdoors. That is mainly down to the chemicals which we are using.
- 63: How many synthetic chemicals are found in the average home. That works out at around 10 gallons of harmful chemicals in each home.
- 5 billion: 5 billion pounds of chemicals are used by the cleaning industry every year.
Safe Natural Ingredients For Homemade Cleaning Solutions
Fear not, though, for there are cleaning ingredients that are effective for cleaning and safe for you and your family.
Most cleaning tasks can be completed with ingredients that you already have around your home, with some used for multiple tasks, and others more specific for certain cleaning tasks. Here are some environmentally-safe ingredients that you might have around your home, or ones which are easy to get.
1. Olive Oil
Oils have always been excellent for treating wood, and olive oil is one of the best, not only for polishing furniture, but also for removing stains, grease, and grime from wood and other surfaces.
2. Castile Soap
This is an oil-based soap that can be used to clean a variety of things. If you dilute the liquid soap, it becomes an all-purpose cleaner. It is especially good for cleaning grease.
3. Baking Soda
Baking soda is the ingredient that can almost do it all. It is a fantastic abrasive and can be used to scrub away stains. It is also a mild cleaner, so it will not damage surfaces as you are scrubbing.
Baking soda is also amazing at removing odors. Sprinkle it on a stain, or leave it in an enclosed area, such as a fridge or a cupboard, and smells will disappear. Leave a baking soda paste on stains to remove them, or use it as a laundry softener, There is almost nothing which it cannot do.
Borax is also an excellent stain remover and can be substituted for bleach in almost any situation. It is often a staple in green laundry or dish-soap cleaners.
Borax is a natural mineral, but it is also one that can irritate the skin, and you should take extra care not to ingest any. It is a brilliant cleaner but should be used carefully around pets and small children.
Vinegar is another staple that is used in a variety of cleaners. You can mop almost any floor with a mix of vinegar and hot water, and it is much less expensive than chemical cleaners. It is a terrific stain remover and creates a turbo-charged foam cleaner when combined with baking soda.
6. Essential Oils
If you want a certain aroma in your home after cleaning, you can add essential oils to your green cleaner.
7. Natural Toothpaste
Not only is natural toothpaste great for cleaning your teeth, but it is also amazing for bringing out the natural shine of silver. Rub it into silver, or use it to treat stains on white clothing and shoes. Let it sit and give it a gentle scrub.
8. Lemons and Lemon Juice
Lemon juice smells amazing as it is wafting through your home and it can be used to clean a variety of surfaces. Lemon juice is a natural bleach and will bring out the shine in your pots and pans. Combine a lemon-juice cleaner with the sun, and you have a wonderful bleach and degreaser.
9. Hydrogen Peroxide
A wonderful disinfectant for almost anything, and also one of the most effective methods of removing blood from fabrics (a must-have cleaner for small children).
Another abrasive cleaner which will not tear the surface apart. It is an expert at getting rid of mold and mildew, and will also polish up your copper and silver.
A fantastic starching solution for clothing. If you have any stubborn stains, especially oils or grease, cornstarch will soak it up and help to get rid of them.
As you are using these natural ingredients, be careful to read up on them before mixing them together. Always use a clean bottle to mix your cleaning solution and rinse your hands and surfaces thoroughly after cleaning.
15 DIY Green Cleaning Recipes
So, you know that green cleaners are the way forward, but how do you actually make them? Well, they are easy to make, and we are here to tell you how. Here are some of our favorite cleaners.
1. Scented All-Purpose Cleaner
Mix up one part white vinegar with one part water, add in some lemon rind, and your favorite fresh herbs. Shake up in a spray bottle and let the herbs and lemon rind infuse for a week before using it to clean stains, smudges, and almost everything else.
2. Heavy-Duty Scrub
Take a lemon, cut it in half, and dip the cut side of the lemon into some borax powder. Use the lemon to scrub enamel sinks and tubs, avoiding marble and granite, and watch the stains come off.
3. Kitchen Cleaner and Deodorizer
Mix four tablespoons of baking soda with one quart of warm water and fill a spray bottle with the mix. Perfect for cleaning the places which usually have an odor, such as the fridge or kitchen cupboards.
4. Mold & Mildew
Fill a spray bottle with vinegar and spray the affected area. It is as simple as that. Let it sit for thirty minutes and then rinse it off. For an added aroma, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the bottle.
5. Glass Cleaner
Mix two cups of water with half a cup of vinegar, a quarter cup of rubbing alcohol, and a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil (optional). Spray the mixture on any glass surfaces and wipe off immediately with a soft cloth or paper towel.
6. Brass Cleaner
Dampen a sponge or cloth with some lemon juice and then sprinkle on some salt. If you rub this mixture over a brass surface and rinse with water before drying, it should revitalize it.
7. Carpet Stain Remover
Mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle, and spray onto stubborn stains, letting it sit for ten minutes. Use a soft brush to work the mixture into the stain and wash off with soapy water. If the stain is greasy, sprinkle on cornstarch or baking soda and let the powder sit before using the stain remover. For the most stubborn stains, mix equal parts of salt, borax, and vinegar and rub the paste into the stain, vacuuming after a few hours.
8. Clothing Stain Remover
Mix one part white non-gel toothpaste with one part baking soda and rub into the stain. Let is sit for a minute and use a dry cloth to wipe it off before rinsing.
9. Toilet Cleaner
Throw some white vinegar into your toilet bowl, followed by a good shake of bicarbonate of soda. Add ten drops of your favorite essential oil if you want to, and let the mixture sit for a few minutes. Scrub with your toilet brush and flush the stains away.
Take two teaspoons of borax, four tablespoons of vinegar, and three cups of hot water. Fill a spray bottle with the mixture and use it to clean kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
11. Laundry Detergent
Use soap nuts (you can buy them on Amazon) in your wash to release saponin, which will dissolve dirt and clean your laundry. You can also grind up the soap nuts and boil them in water to create your own liquid detergent.
12. Grease Cleaner
Take half a cup of sudsy ammonia and top up to a gallon with warm water. Dip a sponge in the solution, and use it to scrub anything which has grease on it. You can also soak oven racks and grill grates overnight in the mixture.
13. Floor Cleaner
In your mop bucket, mix up a quarter cup of vinegar with three-quarters of a cup of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon. Use it to mop your floor and marvel at the shine.
14. Microwave Cleaner
Take a small cup, add a little lemon juice and vinegar, and zap it in the microwave for two minutes. Leave the door closed for a minute more to allow the steam to move around inside, and wipe away with a damp cloth.
15. Carpet Deodorizer
Fill a small jar with bicarbonate of soda and ten drops of your favorite essential oil. Shake it to mix and sprinkle it onto a carpet when it needs to be freshened. Vacuum the powder after letting it sit for thirty minutes.
It has never been easier to create your own green cleaner.
Not only are you going to be saving money, but you are going to be saving your family and the environment too.
You probably have the ingredients in your home, so why would you go out and buy those harmful chemicals.
Make the switch today and get rid of the germs, dirt, and bacteria without getting rid of the splendor of nature.