Green cleaning is an easy way to keep toxic household products out of your home and away from your family. It is also generally less expensive, although at times the tradeoff means you'll need to use a bit more elbow grease to get the dirty jobs done.
A few things to consider when choosing between so-called natural and synthetic products: Whether naturally or artificially derived, all ingredients - even water - are chemicals. There are no non-toxic substances. Even salt can be deadly if taken in too high a dose.
First and foremost: Don't get taken in by label claims that include words like "nontoxic" and "green". Many people interpret these words to mean a cleaner is totally safe to use - for both the Earth and its inhabitants.
But environmentally friendly and people friendly are two different things. And regulation of what constitutes a "green" or "nontoxic" cleaner is spotty at best.
Remember, all cleaners contain chemicals. And any chemical, natural or synthetic, can be toxic at some amount. All cleaning products have some environmental impact, although some have less than others.
A majority of the commercial products we use, including ammonia cleaners, chlorine bleach, disinfectants, rubbing alcohol and tub, tile and shower cleaners, will not have a significant effect on the environment when disposed of properly.
If you really want to downshift to simpler cleaners and save money in the process, this list of alternative cleaning supplies can help you clean less expensively and with fewer chemicals - truly green cleaning.
Here's a look at green-cleaning alternatives:
Always make sure you have adequate ventilation in the area you're cleaning.
Even natural cleaning products can be hazardous when inhaled in small spaces, such as in the small, confined space of most bathrooms.
Although less-toxic cleaners are safer for the environment, don't be lulled into a laid-back attitude when it comes to your safety when using any cleaner.
Homemade cleaners generally require a great deal more time and elbow grease. The single exception is this home-mix glass cleaner: 1/4 cup (60ml) of vinegar in 3 and 3/4 cups (900ml) of warm water.
Read labels to minimize your family's exposure to chemicals when buying cleaners. Steer clear of household cleaners with the following ingredients:
These chemicals can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, nausea, and headaches in the short term. Long-term exposure can damage the liver, kidneys, and the central nervous system.
Look for products that are dye-free, perfume-free, phosphate-free, biodegradable, nontoxic, and highly concentrated.
Here are some tips for preventing water pollution at home: