Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Deep Cleaning Green Style

 5 Ideas to Help You Be More Eco-Friendly

Cleaning seems like it would be good for the environment. However, there’s a lot of waste when it comes to cleaning. Here we take a deeper dive into how you can achieve green cleaning.

A selection of plastic containers.

1. Decrease Packaging

Many of the cleaning products you see on the shelf contain a lot of water, which increases the volume of the product. That increases the size of the packaging needed to contain the product. In the end, there is a lot of wasted space and resources because of water content. 

Many brands have turned to concentrated detergents and cleaners so they can decrease the size of their packaging or at least ensure you don’t have to buy it as often. You’ll generally use less of these than the products that contain more water. 

Other brands have turned to ultra-concentrates that you have to add water to before you use them. Still others manufacture powders that you can mix with water or simply use as is. 

2. Cleaning Implements

Did you know that 254 million tons of paper towels are discarded every year? That’s 51,000 trees cut down each year just to supply North America. Clearly there’s room for improvement with our cleaning implements too. 

Just like the cleaning products, there are paper towels designed to be used more than once or made so you don’t have to use as much. There are also alternatives like bamboo paper towels, which are a more sustainable choice than traditional paper towels. 

Reusable cloths and brushes that can be washed and reused are some of the best choices for green cleaning. Recycling old t-shirts and toothbrushes is a great way to go. Microfiber cloths do a good job if you need streak-free and scratch-free cleaning. 

Person adding liquid laundry detergent to a washing machine.

3. Make It Natural 

The natural world is full of potential cleaners. You probably have ingredients in your house right now that you can use to mix up a number of different cleaning products of your own. You know exactly what’s in it and can completely avoid chemicals that are harmful to the environment. 

The minerals and chemicals that you have on hand (or can easily get at the grocery store) can either act as powerful cleaners by themselves or in a mixture. Vinegar, for instance, is a mild acid that’s great as a natural disinfectant and degreaser. It also breaks down mineral build up from hard water. 

Baking soda absorbs odors and is a gentle abrasive for tough cleaning. Borax (like baking soda on steroids) is a mild natural bleach and great for removing stains. Citrus oils or peels add a nice, natural smell and cut grease. Hydrogen peroxide is a great disinfectant. 

Castile soap makes an excellent deep cleaner and is 100% natural. Rubbing alcohol mixed with water can be used to inhibit mold growth. Minerals like limestone, feldspar, and soda ash are also used in natural cleaners. These are generally used to change the pH level. Acids and bases are excellent cleaners for tough jobs like cleaning the oven. 

4. Mixing Up Your Own Cleaners

Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok are filled with tutorials on how to make your own green cleaning products. It’s easy, cheap, and eco-friendly. 

Be aware that even natural ingredients can react chemically to one another and cause dangerous situations. For instance, never mix vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. It creates a gas (very similar to mixing ammonia and bleach) that is toxic. 

You’ll want to mix most of your homemade cleaners with water. Straight vinegar or hydrogen peroxide should be reserved only for very tough cleaning. These ingredients can pose a threat to some surfaces (like vinegar to a stone countertop) so proceed with caution. Borax alone can irritate skin, eyes, and throat so use carefully.

Mix vinegar, water and cornstarch for a perfect streak-free glass cleaner. Add tea tree oil (or any essential oil to any mixture for a bit of pleasant scent. Baking soda and vinegar will foam when mixed and make a great bathroom deep cleaner.

Person using a squeegee to clean glass.

5. Avoid the Bad Stuff

If you’re not quite ready to start mixing up your own natural cleaners, there are plenty of green cleaners available off the shelf. It can be pricey but it will help you be more eco-friendly and save you time and effort. 

The key to purchasing environmentally-friendly products is to avoid the bad stuff. Harmful chemicals and materials are rampant in cleaning products. Simply avoiding them goes a long way.

Look out for these

  • Phosphates
  • Chlorine
  • Artificial fragrances and colors
  • Non biodegradable packaging
  • Non recyclable packaging
  • Non organic ingredients

Another good rule of thumb is to avoid things you cannot pronounce. Those long chemical names are a tip off that you’re probably dealing with a concoction that’s not friendly to the environment.

Change up your cleaning routine and shift to green cleaning products. You’ll not only do yourself a favor, but you’ll take better care of the environment. That’s an investment that’s always worth it. 

Read our comprehensive bathroom cleaning checklist.

12 Tips for a Clean Bathroom