Green Cleaning Tips to Make Your Life Sparkle
Did you know that the air outside can be much cleaner than the air we breathe indoors?
We all want healthy, clean houses in the pandemic. So, naturally, we clean the house to within an inch of its life. But that’s part of the problem. Many of our cleaning products give off toxic fumes which we breathe in as we clean. In fact, many studies show that the burden of air pollution indoors can shorten your life expectancy.
So what can we do to keep our houses clean and healthy without risking a shorter life in the long run?
How about trying green cleaning?
What on Earth does Green Cleaning Mean?
Green cleaning is when we use products friendly to the environment and to the health of humans and animals alike. Such products are biodegradable and non-toxic.
Some people take it further to mean using products grown organically. For example, using organically grown lemons, not contaminated with environmentally unfriendly pesticides and fertilizers. It’s known that such chemicals may cause cancers, allergies, autoimmune diseases, and worse.
Others take it a further step to mean that the people producing the products are working in safe conditions and are paid fairly.
Or you can go the whole hog and look at the whole lifecycle of a product. Take packaging: it should not be excessive, nor should its disposal create toxic problems. For some that rules out products in plastic bottles which pollute our oceans!
Examples of What takes the Shine off Our Life Expectancy
Let’s take a quick look at some of those tarnishing chemicals that we clean with.
PERC: The strong smell you get from clothes that have been dry cleaned is perchloroethylene. It’s a neurotoxin and a possible carcinogen. You’ll also find it in carpet cleaners and spot stain removers.
Phthalates aren’t a new form of exercise but hormone-disrupting chemicals you can find in cosmetics you put on your face, air fresheners, fragrances including in cleaning products such as soaps.
Quats, (Quaternary Ammonium Compounds), is another common chemical you find in disinfectants, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, cleaning products labeled antibacterial and antiseptic creams, and gels. Whilst effective against fungi, bacteria, and viruses, they potentially cause asthma, breathing problems, skin irritations, and rashes.
Bleach is a home standby for cleaning. But not only does its corrosion sting your skin, lungs, and eyes, it emits fumes after use on household surfaces which can cause respiratory illnesses and allergies. If you accidentally mix it with ammonia (such as pouring it down the toilet after somebody has urinated), it can produce chlorine gas which can result in death.
Replace the Stress with a Sparkle
These are four of thousands of chemicals that appear in your home. You can take anyone chemical and say that the risks are low and so it doesn’t matter.
But the effects of so many toxic chemicals accumulate. The more we stress our systems physically, the harder our immune systems have to work.
So why not put a sparkle back into your life with green cleaning?
Plus, done right, it can be a lot cheaper than using the usual chemical products.
What Cleaning Products are Green?
You can find many different cleaning products that promise that they are green. Brands often have a certificate printed on their bottles from an agency that has tested that they are up to standard.
The trouble is that there are hundreds of self-appointed agencies and some are more effective and reliable than others. Some are voluntary. Here is a list of some ecolabels that you might come across around the world.
It can be really hard to work out what they mean. Plus some countries are stricter about product labeling and some companies do not mention some of the ingredients which are not so healthy. Here’s a website that helps you search through over 2500 products for reliable brands.
How to Do Green Cleaning: 11 Quick Tips
Here are a few simple things to start you down the green cleaning path.
- Boiling water can:
- Unblock drains. (But let it cool a bit if you have plastic/PVC pipes rather than metal ones)
- Remove oil and grease stains – especially if you’re quick to get to the stain.
- Disinfect chopping boards (wash them first and then disinfect with the boiling water).
- Try hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) instead of bleach. It occurs naturally in groundwater and in the atmosphere. It is antiseptic and can be used for sterilizing and disinfecting. Hydrogen peroxide kills off mold on porous surfaces such as plaster walls (drywall) far better than bleach. Be careful! It can still be an irritant and is corrosive if it is in a concentrated form.
- Use essential oils as insect repellents. Citronella, eucalyptus, and tea tree are effective. Cockroaches can’t stand peppermint oil apparently.
- Tea tree oil kills bacteria, viruses, mold, and fungi. It’s good for preventing dandruff too.
- Use rubbing alcohol, that is 70% isopropyl alcohol to disinfect and kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
- Clean your bathroom with vinegar – it’s great for mirrors, tiles, windows, and glass shower doors. For stains, you can mix it with bicarbonate of soda (baking soda or powder) and it produces an effective foam.
- Soda crystals are another great household cleaner for ovens, toilets, drains, and floors. Add in a few drops of essential oils and it will smell great too.
- Use the peel from your citrus fruits. Here’s how to make a great smelling general cleaner. Loosely fill up a screw-top jar with citrus peel. Cover it with white vinegar. Shake it up regularly. After about 3 weeks, pour the citrusy vinegar solution into a spray bottle and use it as you would any bathroom or kitchen cleaner.
- Keep your kettle free from limescale: put leftover peel into your kettle. Boil it up and leave it, preferably overnight. Don’t forget to tip out the citrusy water and the peel in the morning (It makes tea taste awful!). You buff off any remains with a cloth or repeat until the inside of your kettle is shiny clean.
- Put your coffee grounds in your trash bin to keep it smelling sweet. Leave bowls of coffee grounds around the kitchen to absorb strong smells such as fish, onions, and curry.
- Steam clean: I was addicted as soon as I started using a steam cleaner. They are brilliant! You can use them for windows, floors, tiles (works a treat on grout), soft furnishings, carpets, and mattresses. The best ones have a system that pumps out steam and sucks up the dirty water so that you don’t end up with everything being sopping wet. Just nice and squeaky clean.
Going Green can be a Money Saver
If you buy green products, they tend to be more expensive than most household cleaners. Ok, a steam cleaner isn’t cheap, but you only use water with it. I’ve had my steam cleaner for years.
Most of the other suggestions here are not expensive: vinegar for example! If you invest in some jars and sprays which you can reuse, you can make your own cleaners and save in the longer run.
Green Cleaning Bring Backs the Sparkle to your Life.
Imagine that you used a couple of ideas. It wasn’t expensive and made you feel that you were helping the environment and reducing your pollution footprints. That really cheered you up!
When you walk into your kitchen or living room and it smells nice, you can take a deep breath without thinking about breathing in toxic fumes as well as a good smell. You get all the sparkle of a fresher smell without the chemical taints of ‘fragrances’.
You’ll feel great walking into the bathroom and seeing the sparkling taps.
Imagine how much better you’ll feel when you think of the health advantage you’ve gained by not stressing your body with toxic chemicals.
Maybe it gets you interested in other household matters that affect the environment. The amount of unnecessary packaging, for example. All that unnecessary plastic ends up in the ocean and in our bodies.
So try one or two ideas to begin with and move to a better way of living: one which puts the sparkle back into your home. Where you’re doing the right thing, making a difference to the world, and making your life expectancy sparkle at the same time.
Will you take the steps to becoming a ‘green’ cleaner? Let us know in the comments at the bottom of this page!
This article was written by Rosemary Bointon. She helps older people work out what to do now to live longer, in better health with more fun and adventures. She’s a certified content writer. You can find her at https://writer.me/rosemary-bointon/, www.longlifefunlife.com, and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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