Most people don’t realize that the household cleaning products they’ve been using their entire lives are actually harmful chemical polluters. Sure, they smell bad, but aren’t they supposed to be good for your health?
In fact, ammonia, bleach, and other chemicals regularly found in these solvents are toxic to humans over time. And whenever you use them to clean, you are breathing in chemicals that are known to cause asthma and other lung disorders (and who knows what other damage). Not only that, but they pollute our planet, as well.
Each time they go down your drain, they are being carried into the water, the ground, and the world at large. When you consider how many households are using these products every day, it makes you wonder if we aren’t participating in something far more insidious than overt pollution like the BP oil spill (at least they could attack their problem head on).
So why not ditch the chemicals and try some eco-friendly methods of cleaning instead? Here are a few ways to get started.
Eco-Friendly Cleaning Methods
- Waste management. When you decide to get rid of your chemical cleaners, be aware that dumping them down the drain or throwing them in the trash is really not the best solution. You could simply use up what you have and make the switch to green cleaners piecemeal or you can call your local waste management (or recycling center) to ask about a hazardous materials pick-up or drop off. Most cities have a day every year where this service is free, although some companies offer to do an annual pickup at your request.
- Opt for green products. Manufacturers like Seventh Generation and Green Works have labored to create cleaners that are non-toxic, biodegradable, and totally natural (beware of other brands that claim to be natural since there is no regulated standard for this title; ensure you’re getting your money’s worth by checking the ingredients label before you buy). Both of these products can be found at a variety of supermarkets and pharmacies such as Safeway/Vons, Albertson’s, Wal-Mart, and Walgreen’s.
- Raid the fridge. Many common household items can be used for cleaning, and some of them can be found in your fridge. Vinegar is excellent for cleaning just about anything because of its slightly acidic nature. Lemons are a good choice for the same reason, and they come with a fresh scent, to boot. And of course, baking soda not only has abrasive qualities to treat tough grime, it can also be employed as a deodorizing agent. You may want to mix all of these items with water before use.
- Brew your own potion. You might be surprised how many recipes there are online for natural household cleaning solvents that you can easily mix on your own. With just a few basic ingredients you can have degreasers, disinfectants, and even detergents (laundry, dishes) that are totally non-toxic and a lot less expensive than the chemicals you’ve been using.
- Consider equipment. If you’re going to go all the way with green cleaning, then you’ll also want to take a look at your hardware. Opt for mops, sponges, and rags that are natural and reusable (no paper products). And if you have to vacuum, get a model that has a HEPA filter to ensure that the quality of the air in your home is top-notch (and toxin-free).