Welcome to my Green Cleaning Supplies post!
First of all, I must congratulate you for taking the time to do your research on this topic of green living. Cleaning products are toxic and using green alternatives is safer and healthier for you family and the planet.
As a qualified teacher, I am passionate about education and the impact it can have on bettering our future. It is down to us individuals to do our research and make small changes to the way we live our lives.
These small changes are easy to make and can have a big impact on our health, the health of our family and our environment. This website is designed for everyday people looking to make these changes. Here you will learn a legitimate way to go green.
Let me be completely transparent with you, I am not here to pitch or sell anything to you. I am here to reveal and to assist you on your journey of going green!
Cleaning Products Today...
It is natural to presume that the long rows of cleaning products that line our local stores are safe for frequent use, simply because they are there.
Sadly I have come to realize that lots of household cleaning products we rely on to keep our homes clean can be poisonous for our bodies and our environment. They are harmful and unhealthy.
Most business regulations usually allow for a chemical to be used until it has been proven to be dangerous to the public. Proving a product unsafe takes resources, funding, and time. So, it is easy to see why we see so many of these products in our stores.
If we want to see fewer poison exposures we need to use healthier cleaning alternatives. Here are some tips for healthy cleaning from the Environmental Working Group.
The U.S. Poison Control Center...
In the year 2000, everyday household cleaning products were responsible for nearly a staggering 10% of all the toxic exposures reported to the U.S. Poison Control Center and that was not too long ago. It has been the second-highest reported cause for toxic exposure for many years now.
The percentage is slowly reducing with time. 16 years later it was found to still be the second-highest substance class most frequently involved in human exposures at nearly 8%.
This is because household cleaning supplies are made from some of the most powerful bacteria killers in existence. They are expertly engineered to kill just about every organism they come into contact with.
Many have toxic effects on our physical bodies. They also have toxic effects on animal life and plant life after they enter our waterways. No wonder these men made poisons are extremely harmful to our health and the health of our environment!
Many of you reading this will be parents and consumers who are responsible for bringing home household products. It is concerning to me that so many of us willingly load are shopping carts with these products and pay for them to bring home.
Once home, we use these dangerous chemicals with the intention of cleaning but in reality, we are poisoning our home, our air quality, our waterways, and our bodies. We are also exposing our vulnerable children and pets who don't get to have their say in this.
These dangerous chemicals can cause birth effects, learning disabilities, and cancer. They leak into our waterways, destroying our wildlife, fish, and ecosystems. These chemicals build up and become difficult to remove which will affect the quantity of clean water we have access to in the future. Water is essential to life.
History of Cleaning & Society...
Did you know that many cultures across the world will not use the cleaning products we use today for two reasons? Firstly many countries do not have access to the technologies and chemicals we have today. Secondly, many of them would choose not to use these toxic chemicals if they were given to them. Why do we use them?
My parents used cleaning chemicals in my home as a child and it is only natural that I presumed they were doing the right thing. They taught me that personal and environmental hygiene is important, which it is. But they failed to teach me that the products we use to clean are even more important.
I don't blame my parents for this innocent mistake, because they were only doing what everybody else was doing, what their parents were doing, and so on.
Every civilization has adopted methods for cleaning their homes. The Mesopotamians made brooms from waste products such as staw which they would use to sweep their mud floors. The Roman's had servants that would scrub their stone floors.
However, it is the Industrial Revolution that has had the greatest impact on how we clean today. Many discoveries were made in regards to chemicals and their ability to remove stains from carpets, polishing brass, scuff marks on porcelain, and many others. Scientific discoveries about bacteria were also being made.
Access to this technology and research encouraged the development of household cleaning products. As time went on, people became more house proud and cleanliness was a part of our day to day lives. Our hygiene changed, along with our healthcare, and the number of chemicals we used for home cleaning.
My parents taught the importance of hygiene, wanted to be clean, healthy, and have a clean living environment. So, like many of you reading this, I made the same mistakes as you. I did what my parents had taught me to do, I did what was considered normal in our society, I cleaned with toxic chemicals.
However, I was also fortunate enough to be born into a generation where there is lots of research into health, or environment, and green living. It is this knowledge that has started me on my alternative journey of green cleaning.
I made some small changes in my life. I decided that I first needed to remove the toxic chemicals from my home to resist the temptation of using them again. Let's face it, they are far too convenient. The next step was to replace them with environmentally friendly products. But where to start? Keep reading to discover what I learned.
In the beginning, I bought healthier cleaning products in the store but I came to realize that making my products would save me a lot of time and money. I am now only cleaning with natural cleaning products which I make myself. They work well, use simple kitchen ingredients, and are so easy to make that I can do so with children.
My interest in the subject inspired me to start my own residential house cleaning company which specializes in green cleaning. More and more people are becoming aware of the health hazards associated with the use of chemical cleaners and looking for environmentally friendly alternatives.
Choosing Green Cleaning Alternatives...
Some people want to make the transition from toxic cleaning products to green cleaning products slowly, exchanging an old product for a new one when it runs out. Other people want to do it right here and now, by clearing out the cupboard under the sink, making a list and heading straight to the store to restock their now empty cupboard. Choose the option which is best for you.
Making your cleaning products is my number one recommendation. However, you may not be ready to take that step. So, I have put together some tips to help you when choosing your cleaning products. This can help you to create a cleaner and safer environment for you and your family.
1. Love/Hate Relationship with Labeling...
Some products tell you if they are dangerous, while others don't. Red Flag Alert! This can be helpful at first glance, as it makes it obvious which ones to stay well clear of. What is the Bottom line? Listen to them and stay away!
When shopping for cleaning products start by studying the label carefully. My number one tip is to look for the product with the simplest ingredients. Avoid products with terms like Caution, Corrosive, Danger, Irritant, Poison, or Warning.
Once you spend a little time finding the products that you are happy with, shopping for the becomes more simply because, generally speaking, people usually stick to what they have used before.
2. Outsmart Labeling Tricks...
If it says ‘Natural’, ‘Non-toxic’, ‘Eco-friendly’, or even ‘Organic’, that does not necessarily mean that it is what you think it is. When I discovered this, I felt frustrated that companies can get away with misleading this way.
As annoying and this may seem, these terms can be a helpful place to start when shopping for better products. Just be sure to verify their contents. Study the ingredients list, watch out for certain ingredients, and make your judgment. Keep reading for more details.
3. Understand that Ingredients Matter...
If the product you pick up does not tell you what it contains inside it – stop! This is another huge red flag. When a company does this, they are usually trying to hide something. Coming from the UK where there are stricter labeling regulations, I was shocked to discover that this is allowed in some parts of the USA.
Do not purchase these products. Transparency it hugely significant when looking for a safe product as a consumer today. While there may be safe ingredients inside, without an honest ingredients list you have no way of knowing whether the product you are about to buy it safely.
How can we change this? You can send such companies a message with your concerns and this can be an effective way of contributing to positive change. You could also write to your local government representatives who are responsible for ensuring there are appropriate labeling policies in place.
4. Know What to Watch Out for...
- Ammonia: This is toxic when in physical contact, and even through inhalation. Very strong and considered potentially dangerous when used without care.
- Antibacterial & Disinfectant: These include a wide range of ingredients from Bleach to Triclosan. These kinds of products are considered by some to be encouraging the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. I feel they are rarely needed. Regular homemade cleaning products (even just a bit of dish detergent) or soap and water should be what most people will ever really need in their home.
- Butyl Glycol, Ethylene Glycol, Monobutyl: These are commonly found in most cleaning products and are dangerous for our nervous system, liver, and kidneys.
- Chlorine Bleach: This product has corrosive properties and symptoms that get reported even from simply inhaling the fumes include lightheadedness, coughing, and irritation to the nose and/or eyes.
- Petroleum-based Surfactants & Solvents: Many cleaning ingredients are a derivative from petroleum and are often found under the term ‘surfactants’. Some are safe and others are not. The dangerous kinds have been linked to reproductive disorders, neurological disorders, and cancer. Many have not been thoroughly tested for their impact on our health or the environment. Surfactants and solvents do not always require being listed on the ingredients list, this will probably vary depending on where you live. Solvents are usually flammable and toxic. They frequently can be used to make up around 90% of a household cleaning product.
- Phosphates: These are often found in laundry & dish detergents. They are harmful to aquatic life. They trigger harmful algae blooms when wastewater it pushed into river water, lakes, and the ocean. Some states have banned the sale of dishwasher detergents that contain high levels of phosphates but others have not so I would advise you to watch out.
- Phthalates: Can often be found under the term ‘fragrance’ on ingredient lists. These are known to be hormone disruptive and are often the components of complex synthetic fragrances that can initiate allergic reactions for some people. I strongly recommend avoiding artificial scents at all costs: cleaners, shampoos, candles, etc. Choose options that say “Phthalate Free”, “Free & Clear” or mention the use of essential oils for fragrance.
5. Use EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning...
If you have a phone with internet access, I recommend bookmarking ‘EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning’ for a quick and easy reference tool when doing your shopping.
It scores household cleaning products using a simple alphabetic code, with ‘A’ being the best. They also provide a useful ‘Label Decoder’, which can help you understand the facts when reading confusing labels.
I found this tool helpful when I was first learning about healthier cleaning products. It taught me about different products, which ones were safer and which ones were not. However, I too found this very time-consuming at the start and I was spending money on products I didn't need. So, I decided to make my own.
Homemade Cleaning Products...
Making your products has many benefits. The most important benefits are the positive impacts they can have on our health and the health of the environment. Homemade cleaning products use the simplest of ingredients, most of which can be found in your kitchen. They are easy and quick to make and doing so will save you money.
Some of you may decide that you want to have a go at making your own. Do a little research and take that step! You will be thankful for the decrease of poisons in your home. There are a lot of great sources for information on natural cleaning products available online. Keep an eye on this post for future links to recipes. Get to know them, refer to them, and even save money in the process of using them.
Some natural cleaning products include Baking Soda, Borax, Castile Soap, Lemon Juice, Washing Soda, Vinegar, and Pure Essential Oils.
Use Pure Essential Oils...
When your home is cleaned with natural products containing essential oils, you get a clean and healthy home and one that is filled with the extraordinary scents of aromatherapy.
When we hear the phrase "essential oils", often we tend to immediately think of scents they produce. But what many of us don't realize is that a vast range of pure essential oils has impressive cleaning properties too.
They are known for their antibacterial, disinfectant, anti-fungal, and antiseptic cleaning properties. Appropriate essential oils don't just mask bad smells; they can neutralize unpleasant odors and airborne bacteria that linger in our homes, cars, and workplaces, etc.
Natural cleaning products are an extraordinary alternative to regular cleaning products, however, they do need to be used responsibly. Some can contain naturally occurring chemicals that can irritate the skin, trigger allergic reactions, or cause other toxic effects.
When learning about them, try not to overwhelm yourself. Instead, start by learning about select few. I recommend Lemon, Tee Tree, and Peppermint. They are probably the three most commonly used essential oils in cleaning because of their cleaning properties. They are considered some of the safest.
If you can afford to do so, select organic pure essential oils, with no additives. If organic is out of your budget then at least opt for the pure essential oils. Avoid fake and synthetic oils that often use plants that have been sprayed with pesticides, contain other filler ingredients and fragrances.
Remember to always store in a cool place and out of direct sunlight. Most quality essential oils are sold in sealed .... glass containers. This is because the container will preserve the oil and protect it from the sunlight which can damage the majority of essential oils.
Never apply essential oils directly to the skin and wear gloves when handling them. For more information on how to safely use essential oils on the skin, read about aromatherapy.
Green Cleaning Supplies: The Final Verdict!
Your home is where you and your loved ones are, spending time relaxing, playing, and hopefully enjoying life. We want it to be a safe place. By going green and following these strategies you will promote a healthier future for you, your loved ones, and the environment. Our furry and faithful companions need to be kept in mind too; they are also vulnerable to poisonous substances.
Everyday cleaning supplies that can be found in many households today are dangerous for us and our environment. We can’t solve global issues single handily. But we can do our part to contribute towards the bigger picture. Think small and use environmentally friendly cleaning supplies.
You can make this transition quickly, or slowly. I have provided tips for finding safer cleaning alternatives in stores and discussed the benefits of making your own. If you would like to read my review of green cleaning products available to you online, please click here.
There are many resources available to help you along this path and remember that I am always here to help you too. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below as I will always be willing to assist you.