The debate over whether natural cleaning products clean as well as or better than chemically based products is something people have struggled with for years. How do traditional cleaning products and methods compare to commercial cleaning alternatives? Decades ago there was no ‘Mr Clean’ – people found successful ways to make natural solutions work. Yet even though this is known as fact, some are skeptical – can natural products and ingredients really clean as efficiently as chemical based products?
Cleaning products are everywhere. From homes, to offices, even in our cars! Most of the conventional cleaning products that were around in the late 80’s were petroleum-based, which obviously had health and environmental implications. Instead of opting for cleaning products that overpower everything in their path (including our noses!), there are plenty of natural products that we could either make ourselves and save money, or buy from our local shops. These methods will keep a house clean and fresh-smelling without the poisonous side effects. Years ago now many people held the belief that ‘It’s not clean unless I can smell the chemicals!’ Thankfully this is no longer the standard by which we measure the cleanliness of our homes. In fact, there is a growing movement to avoid using these toxic chemicals that are harmful to our health and the health of the environment.
There are over 17,000 petrochemicals available for home use, only 30 percent of which have been tested for their effects on human health and on the environment. Currently, we know very little about the implications of these products which we are all breathing in often unknowingly on a regular basis. What we do know is that 5 billion pounds worth of chemicals are being used in the institutional cleaning industry each year. In addition to this, over 23 gallons of chemicals (that’s 87 liters!) on average are used by cleaners alone each year and 25% of those gallons are hazardous.
Safety and Health
Many household and commercial cleaning products are labelled irritants or hazardous. We are advised to wear gloves or surgical masks when using them and to only use the products in well-ventilated areas to avoid inhaling them. This suggests that these products don’t contain pleasant ingredients that anyone would want to surround themselves with. Many people struggle with the pungent smells of chemical cleaners getting to the backs of their throats causing them to cough and splutter. It’s best to have windows and doors open when cleaning, as otherwise it’s possible to feel the products on our lungs when we breathe. People who are drawn to “delicious smelling” cleaners should note that these very products often smell the way that they do because of synthetic fragrances created by additional chemicals rather than natural scents. Additionally, allergy sufferers often find that their reactions can be worsened by typical cleaning chemicals used around the home. While dusting is one of the most commonly cited cleaning activities to trigger allergies, natural products- such as vinegar and lavender- can help reduce reactions while most hard chemical products do not.
Related: GREEN HOME 101 – Guide to Green Cleaning
Natural cleaning solutions can also help save money by reducing a dependence on an expensive array of cleaning products, each of which are targeted to clean only one type of surface in our homes. A number of the key ingredients for natural cleaning are items commonly found in our kitchen cupboards. Lemon juice, baking soda and white vinegar are all ingredients that are used in green cleaning. These items are cheap to buy and can be used in cooking as well as cleaning so they also have multiple purposes! To add a splash of fragrance, add a small dose of essential oils to products – such a little amount is needed in the preparation that the cost works out very low and you can change the smell as and when you want to. Check out the video below for more tips on how to make your own green cleaning products at home!
Use micro fiber cloths because the different fibers in the cloths break up dirt and retain it, plus they can be used alone, with water or soap or anything at all really. It is said that the average UK household spends £109 a year on cleaning materials. Micro fibre cloths are machine washable so they really can last years and years – bringing the cost of cleaning down even more and reducing waste generated through disposable one-use materials like paper towel.
+ 5 homemade green cleaners you can make yourself
+ How to make kid-safe cleaning products
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