The term "green cleaning" refers to the use of vegetable-based materials to clean surfaces rather than chemical-laden detergents and solvents. Don't assume natural products are safer as there are a few things to know about successful green housekeeping.
Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to identify which products contain hazardous ingredients. While cleaners are the only household products regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission under the Federal Hazardous Substances Labeling Act, their sellers aren’t required to reveal these products’ ingredients. These ingredients are considered “trade secrets,” so government regulations are actually designed to protect this proprietary information, not to protect human health or the environment.
My housecleaners say NOT all cleaning can be accomplished with "green" cleaning products but they choose to use less toxic and green cleaners most of the time? There is just some cleaning that needs harsher chemicals. BUT...there ARE better choices, and with our busy lives, we all need to know how to make quicker informed decisions about which products to buy and how to use them. There is very little regulation around listing a product as non-toxic, as proven with the latest information on Simple Green. One of "Simple Green's key ingredients, butyl cellosolve, is the same toxic solvent found in some traditional all-purpose cleaners. The label even cautions users not to "dispose of . . . near storm drains, oceans, lakes or streams."
So how do we make healthier cleaning choices? Here are some simple tips to help you:
1) Does the product have a child proof cap? If harmful to children, most likely it is harmful to you.
2) Don't believe what it says on the front of the cleaning product you are interested in purchasing. That is the area the maker has to convince you to buy the product. Always check the backside of the product. Check out the chemicals, and if there are warnings....be aware! The label on a typical cleaning product is a mix of marketing hype and instructions for use. What’s missing is a list of what’s inside.
True story: A house cleaner was told NOT to bring bleach into the client’s house. So they bought a product that said on the front "contains no bleach". It was sprayed on the walls of an old tub enclosure and it left permanent streaks (bleached). She bought this product because on the front of the product, it said that it did not contain Bleach. That front label was true, it did not contain Bleach, but it did contain an acid, which can bleach. That product was Scrubbing Bubbles made by SCJohnson who on their website says water can be deadly? “SC Johnson a Family Company” says water can be deadly. Directly from their website: “Most everyone would agree that water is a harmless chemical. But even water can be deadly if you drink too much of it. The important thing in product development is to select the right chemical to achieve the goal, and to use only the amount that is proven to be safe and effective. At SC Johnson, we aim to use the smallest effective percentage of key ingredients.”
3) If the products says it will do the work for you......and it sounds too good to be true …. it probably is! It can only contain toxic chemicals. It is best to use "elbow grease" instead of products “that do the work for you” as they most likely contain acid and sometimes can even etch/bleach the surface you are cleaning if left on too long. (See above)
4) Use less – dilute…dilute…dilute
5) Squeege after EACH shower to reduce/eliminate hard water spots on shower wall and glass. I have done this for 3 years now in my new home and have yet to see a water spot on my tile or glass.
6) If you have to use a stronger cleaner that is not non-toxic, don't use a bottle that sprays the cleaner. Use a squirt bottle and put the cleaner on a sponge or cleaning rag for use. When you spray a cleaner it atomizes it into little tiny particles that land on your skin and goes up your nose when you breathe - very very unhealthy. In fact medicine now comes in skin patches and nasal sprays. Spraying chemicals is a good way to put it into your blood stream-you don't want that! And most cleaning chemicals are put in those kinds of bottles - just loosen the lid and pour.
Suggested green products to try:
a) Vinegar diluted with water is a very mild acid and does disinfect
b) Dish soap - very mild and great for many things (is a degreaser)
c) baking soda - use with non-toxic cleaners for an abrasive
d) Hydrogen Peroxide (food grade) Disinfectant cleaner and very good for stains on carpet, clothes etc. Hydrogen Peroxide does not bleach but always try a small area first.
e) Lemon Juice - cuts grease, kills mold and mildew and leaves a streak-free shine on hard surfaces of all kinds.
f) Sodium Borate - Available in the laundry detergent aisle, sodium borate, or borax, has a long history as a nontoxic powdered laundry booster, but it’s also effective in homemade cleaning products to disinfect kitchen and bathroom surfaces, cookware and floors.
g) Olive Oil & lemon juice for furniture polish - Blend 1 cup of olive oil and 1/2 cup of lemon juice in a spray bottle
h) Put cut lemons in a microwavable dish and boil in microwave. Loosens crusted on food which can easily be wiped up and gives the house a nice lemony smell.
There is much more information online about other non-toxic cleaners and how to use them.
My favorite cleaning product is Shaklee Basic H2. I have used in personally for 20 years and still love it. Here is a link:
This 16 oz bottle creates an unbelievable 48 gallons of super-safe, non-toxic and biodegradable, really powerful, all purpose cleaner. Use it to clean everything from spilled milk, to bug guts on the window, to splattered spaghetti sauce. Really great for families with small children who suck on everything you clean.
My second most favorite product is this one:
Here’s an exclusive scouring cleanser that sets a new standard. It’s a paste, so it doesn’t form dust clouds or leave a powdered film on the surface. Easy to rinse. It cleans stuck-on messes. It even cleans burnt-on food in your oven. And it doesn’t burn off your nose hairs in the process.
What are your favorite green cleaning products?