Commercial cleaning products were developed to do a good job of cleaning. But when most of what is popular today came on the market, there wasn’t as much concern about the environment as there is today.
Products have changed to keep up with consumer preferences (as well as environmental regulations), and many of the biggest environmental offenders have cleaned up their act. But most commercial household cleaners on the market today were not developed to be green and have not yet morphed to full greenness.
There are fully green options out there. Environmental Working Group has a fairly comprehensive list of green cleaning products currently available, with good discussion and some valuable pointers. Their site is worth a visit.
The Environmental Protection Group gives a lot of insight into the harmful environmental effects of choosing not to go green. Discussion and checklists are geared more to governmental contractors, but the site does offer a lot of good general information.
Powerful green cleaners are already in your home
Most people don’t fully grasp that they don’t have to go out and purchase commercial products to raise their home to a clean, green state. Almost all homes contain simple but sometimes powerful cleaners already in their cabinets or laundry rooms.
Some products that perform very well are the following common household items:
• White vinegar: White vinegar is a cleaner’s dream. It leaves glass sparkling and can be used to clean electronics (if you use a damp cloth moistened with equal parts vinegar and water). The foaming action of a mixture of vinegar and baking soda poured down a drain works wonders in clearing clogs. An added bonus is a drain that smells clean and fresh. Reader’s Digest published an article called “150 Uses for Vinegar.” It’s a good read.
• Baking soda: We all know the benefits of baking soda after a night of excess. A teaspoon mixed in a glass of water can provide much-needed relief after consuming too much food or drink. But baking soda also has a hero’s role in a clean and green household. Sprinkled on the carpets and vacuumed after 15 minutes, baking soda removes odors … and with a little bit of elbow grease it also removes stains. Baking soda can serve as a detergent booster in the washing machine. An opened box makes an excellent deodorizer in the refrigerator.
• Hydrogen peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide is the only germicide composed of only water and oxygen. It’s regarded as the safest sanitizer in the world. Pour a cup in the toilet, let it sit one hour, and come back to a sparkling clean, sanitized bowl. Put half a cup in the laundry and get brighter, whiter whites. Hydrogen peroxide works like chlorine bleach to whiten, but has almost no impact on the environment.
Every home contains many products that can do double duty as green cleaners. The three listed above are perhaps the most versatile. They are inexpensive, readily available, and have only a tiny effect on the environment compared the the complex and sometimes toxic chemicals and traditional cleaners.
Of course, you’ll want a proper receptacle into which to toss the paper or fabrics you use to scrub and disinfect various surfaces and objects with these cleaners.