Three methods to eco-proof your cleaning regimen for a greener clean

A clean house brings great satisfaction. However, cleanliness loses part of its appeal when it is at the expense of the environment and our health.

Conventional cleaning solutions with chemicals like chlorine and ammonia can irritate skin and respiratory systems. Additionally, by producing hundreds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), they might worsen indoor air pollution. Though some VOCs, including benzene and phthalates, are connected to cancer and reproductive problems, not all of them are dangerous. According to research released in November, employees in the cleaning sector have a 50% higher risk of developing asthma and other respiratory conditions due to frequent exposure to dangerous chemicals.

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Many chemicals from traditional cleaners, such as phosphates (found in many home cleaners), phthalates (commonly used in scented goods), and 1,4-Dioxane (which gives cleaners their sudsy appearance) can damage rivers when they are rinsed down the drain, endangering both humans and animals.

Another environmental risk is packaging waste. An estimated 700 million to one billion plastic laundry jugs are thrown away each year in the US; a 2020 survey discovered that 468 million cleaning product spray bottles are thrown away annually in the UK; and only nine percent of all plastic is recycled, only to spew microplastics—which also contain hazardous chemicals—during the recycling process.

Positively, more plastic-free packaging options are becoming available, and customers are “ratcheting up the pressure on companies to prove their formulas are safe,” according to Samara Geller, senior director of cleaning science at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), who noted that consumers are becoming aware of the possible risks associated with cleaning products.

Green cleaning solutions have been discovered to emit fewer toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than traditional cleaning products, and the market for green home cleaning is expected to rise from $260 billion in 2021 to $398 billion by 2027. “More businesses are realizing that the public’s trust is being undermined by the use of harmful ingredients and by being evasive about what goes into making products,” Geller stated.

Nevertheless, it is imperative to keep up the pressure for ingredient safety and openness, particularly in light of a measure that was proposed in Congress in October that, if approved, would limit the obligation of manufacturers to disclose the ingredients in their goods.

Here’s how to include greener cleaning practices into your daily routine.

Seek for goods that have environmental certifications from external parties.

Marketing jargon like “natural” and “green” can be deceptive. Seek out third-party certifications, since these can provide trustworthy information about a product’s actual contents and environmental and safety concerns.

Products created without chemicals, perfumes, or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) detrimental to human and environmental health are awarded the EWG’s Verified label, one of several certifications with strict, thorough requirements, according to Geller. Reliable certifications include the Safer Choice symbol, which certifies that a product complies with US Environmental Protection Agency environmental and health standards, and the Ecocert label, which certifies that a product was manufactured responsibly and meets high international standards for human health and the environment.

Examining a product’s component list thoroughly can be useful when in doubt; generally speaking, the fewer and more identifiable the substances, the better. The EWG’s Healthy Living App may be a convenient method to quickly check product ratings while on the road, and SmartLabel, a digital tool, provides access to comprehensive, current product information online and occasionally through a QR code on a product box. The Cleaning Chemistry Catalog, an extensive online collection of home cleaning product chemicals and their safety ratings, is maintained by the American Cleaning Institute.

Select concentrates devoid of plastic to cut down on emissions and avoid trash.

Concentrated cleansers require less packaging because they are meant to be diluted with water by customers at home. By doing this, less material ends up in landfills. Additionally, compact concentrations require less room for transportation, enabling the simultaneous shipment of more goods.

Nature Bee, an eco-friendly cleaning supplies firm, was founded by Katie Gamble. “Even beyond sustainability, it costs less, saves space and saves time, because you can have more sitting in your cupboard,” Gamble said. “One bottle can hold sixteen replacement tablets for bathroom cleaner.”

Even so, your concentrated cleaning solutions are probably still adding to microplastic pollution and landfill garbage if they are packed in plastic. Consider an alternative: Blueland is a firm that offers plant-based soap powder that is designed to be shaken from a reusable silicone container into a sponge and used to clean tile, dishes, and sinks. In reused empty bottles, other manufacturers provide dry solutions that may be combined with water. While Nature Bee sells hand soap, multipurpose cleanser, and powder-to-gel dish soap concentrates in paper packets, Etee sells its unscented dish soap concentrates in beeswax tubes. Three bottles of traditional liquid dish soap may be substituted with one cube of French-milled solid dish soap, which also looks much nicer on your countertop.

Should you have a preference for purchasing liquid cleansers, blogger Celia Ristow has created a directory of zero-waste supermarkets in the United States. These stores provide a variety of lower-footprint choices to fill reused containers.

Combine environmentally friendly materials with green cleaning products.

Paper towels, sponges, plastic scrub brushes, rubber gloves, and other throwaway, non-biodegradable cleaning supplies can exacerbate environmental problems. For instance, making paper towels uses a lot of water, contributes to the destruction of forests, and, during the bleaching process, produces the chemical byproduct dioxin, which is both a carcinogen and a very hazardous environmental contaminant.

The greatest cleaning tools are longer-lasting than their traditional counterparts and are constructed from biodegradable materials. Swedish dishcloths, for instance, are composed of cotton and cellulose fiber (ask about sustainable sourcing); they are reusable, retain fewer bacteria than sponges, and each one may replace seventeen rolls of paper towels. They also don’t shed microfibres. Consider purchasing a bundle of regular organic cotton napkins if you find it difficult to give up paper towels because you use them as napkins. These napkins are useful for more than just elegant dinner parties. Consider dish sponges made of burlap, loofah, or heavier palm-fiber scrubbers for a more conventional look. These sponges may all be composted when their useful lives are coming to an end.

Typically, latex, an organic material, is combined with chemical plasticizers like phthalates to make washing-up gloves non-biodegradable. Eco-friendly substitutes that employ natural rubber only, devoid of artificial additives, decompose more quickly after usage. Be cautious when purchasing bioplastic gloves, as studies have shown that even if they are manufactured from biodegradable materials like cornstarch, they may still contain just as many hazardous chemicals after production as regular plastics.