I don’t know about you but my life seems busier than ever these days. And cleaning just seems to add to the already burgeoning list of responsibilities. It’s what pulls me to the latest product that promises to make annoying chores even easier. But, ever wonder what’s in that container?

Realize that a large number of marketed cleaning products contain a brew of harsh chemicals which can be bad for your health — and your kids’ health. Moreover, who’s to say it is any more effective than some of the tried and true ‘recipes’ of the past – that we know work well, are often less expensive and are safer in the long run. If you’re someone like me who cleans my home regularly – take some time to consider it.

Reasons to Green Your Cleaning

But, don’t just take my word for it – here are some other reasons to consider going green:

  1. Healthier Home
    Studies have shown that using a household cleaning spray, even as little as once a week, raises the risk of developing asthma. Using green cleaning products can reduce the chances of developing asthma, which “today is the most common chronic illness and the leading cause of school absences due to chronic illness across the country.”
  2. Purer Environment
    Changing to greener methods, helps reduce pollution to our waterways and the air and it minimizes your impact on ozone depletion and global climate change with fewer smog-producing chemicals. Many green products also use recyclable packaging which minimizes waste.
  3. Safer Products
    Conventional cleaning products pose risks such as chemical burns to the cleaner’s skin and eyes. Green cleaners aren’t corrosive and meet strict standards regarding inhalation toxicity, combustibility and skin absorption.
  4. Better Air Quality
    Green
    cleaning products — including store bought and ones you can make at home — include pleasant natural essential oils. Reichert even refers to cleaning with these products as her “aromatherapy.”
  5. Less Expensive
    The cost of environmentally friendly cleaning products has become much more competitive, while cleaning in an environmentally sound way reduces the risk of sick days for employees and the risk of fires and chemical spills.
  6. Fewer Anti-bacterials
    We are told by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that washing with antibacterial soaps isn’t any better than regular soaps, and the American Medical Association (AMA) says that the frequent use of antibacterial ingredients can promote bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Triclosan, a common antibacterial agent found in many soaps, [may] mess with your hormonal system and thyroid. Most green or environmentally friendly cleaning products don’t contain antibacterial agents.
  7. More Knowledge of Ingredients
    Government regulations don’t require ingredients to be listed on any cleaning products.

Natural Cleaning

Here is a list of common, environmentally safe products which can be used alone or in combination for a wealth of household applications – that may surprise you – they did me!

  • Baking Soda – cleans, deodorizes, softens water, scours.
  • Soap – unscented soap in liquid form, flakes, powders or bars is biodegradable and will clean just about anything. Avoid using soaps which contain petroleum distillates.
  • Lemon – one of the strongest food-acids, effective against most household bacteria.
  • Borax – (sodium borate) cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens water, cleans wallpaper, painted walls and floors.
  • White Vinegar – cuts grease, removes mildew, odors, some stains and wax build-up.
  • Washing Soda – or SAL Soda is sodium carbonate decahydrate, a mineral. Washing soda cuts grease, removes stains, softens water, cleans wall, tiles, sinks and tubs. Use care, as washing soda can irritate mucous membranes. Do not use on aluminum.
  • Isopropyl Alcohol is an excellent disinfectant.
  • Cornstarch can be used to clean windows, polish furniture, shampoo carpets and rugs.
  • Citrus Solvent – cleans paint brushes, oil and grease, some stains.

Is Borax Safe?

Folks may question whether Borax is safe.  Borax is considered a mild skin irritant similar to baking soda. The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) lists borax as a health hazard of 1, similar to salt and baking soda. A health concern with borax is with its potential to disrupt the reproductive system. Studies have not been done in humans regarding this; however, potential reproductive issues in mice are suspected from high levels of ingested borax. Use of borax for home cleaning formulas, where no borax is ingested, has not been shown to pose health hazards. Borax is a natural substance which is non-carcinogenic, does not accumulate in the body, or absorb through the skin. It is not harmful to the environment.

More Info

For information on green cleaning options that you can make at home, here are a couple of great resources:

And for off the shelf products, here are a couple of choices:

Jennifer Keyes-Maloney