How do you clean your home with fewer chemicals? This is your guide to getting started
Green cleaning has long been a part of our vernacular, but only now are we seeing the real importance of changing the way we clean.
What is green cleaning?
Green cleaning is all about reducing your use of harsh cleaning products and switching to safer alternatives that help protect the environment and create a healthier home.
Why green cleaning is important
If someone asked you what you use to clean your kitchen, would you be able to answer? If you already green clean you might say you use water and microfiber or perhaps you’ve got a vinegar-bicarb-citrus recipe, but if you clean with an all-purpose cleaner from your local supermarket, do you actually know what you’re using?
Unless you’ve extensively studied the product labels and researched each ingredient, cleaning with chemicals usually means you don’t know what you’re cleaning with at all. You have a list of unfamiliar names of unknown quantities in a combination of unknown safety.
The toxic warning signs on the back of the bottle are an initial indicator the contents may be problematic when it comes to your health, and even though it’s unlikely you will drink your products (although it does happen), they still contain ingredients known to be harmful (such as nitrogen, phosphorous, ammonia and other VOCs) when breathed in. To date, compelling studies into the impact of cleaning products on your health are few and far between, but the impact chemical cleaners has been noted as a risk to long-term respiratory health1.
Compromising your homes indoor air quality and lung health is one side effect of cleaning with chemicals, and polluting our waterways is another. Chemical runoff can affect the natural balance damaging local flora and fauna and potentially entering the food chain.
Cleaning with chemicals purchased at the supermarket also has an impact on the environment in terms of waste. Most cleaning products are supplied in reinforced plastic, the safest thing to hold the toxic contents. When the contents are used up the bottles generally end up in the bin and from there landfill, and with over 8 million households in Australia alone, this amounts to a lot of plastic waste.
It’s true that most cleaning products contain toxic chemicals in small amounts that appear to pose no immediate harm, but we also need to remember most cleaning chemicals were introduced in the 1950s, we still don’t really know what the long-term effects may be.
Green cleaning offers a simple, safe alternative that does the job just as well with all the benefits.
What are the benefits of cleaning green?
1. Feel good
Choosing to clean green comes with a myriad of benefits - which we’ll get to - but one that is often underestimated is the fact that you’ll feel good by doing it. We often talk about feel-good finds, those simple switches that help make a difference to the planet or your health, like replacing single-use plastic products.
2. Improve your home’s indoor air quality
Firstly, by reducing or replacing chemical cleaners and cleaning green, you’ll help improve your home’s indoor air quality. This is a great thing to do for the whole family, especially if family members suffer from asthma and allergies. Indoor air quality isn’t talked about often, but generally, the air indoors is five times more polluted than outside air2. We have plenty of tips on improving your indoor air quality (one of them being to buy more indoor plants, yes please)!
3. It’s safer
If you have kids, a percentage of your life will be dedicated to moving potential hazards out of harm’s way. Green cleaning is safe, so by replacing chemical cleaning products with green cleaners, this will be one less thing to worry about.
4. The environment will love you
If there has ever been a time to be conscious of our impact on the planet, now and moving forward is the time. Yes, there are plenty of problems that are outside of our individual control, but reducing household waste and household water pollution is something green cleaning helps combats.
5. Save money
Most chemical cleaning products don’t come with a hefty price tag, so you probably don’t notice how much you’re spending annually. If you choose to create your own green cleaners, buying a few safe, environmentally responsible ingredients won’t cost much and last far longer. Alternatively, you could invest in cost-effective, long-lasting cleaning supplies instead. You’d be surprised at how much you can save.
6. Clean quicker
Cleaning is a contentious issue in most households, and although there are tried and tested ways you can fall back in love with cleaning, most of us just want to get it over with as quickly as possible. If you’re cleaning correctly with chemicals, it actually takes much longer as you have to initially remove all debris (crumbs etc) for the active chemicals to ‘work’, you then have to leave the chemicals for a period of time before remove the chemical residue.
If you’re cleaning with natural, safe ingredients or just water and microfiber it’s a simple wet, wipe and dry.
Cleaning green, how to get started
If you’re ready to make a change to your cleaning routine and remove harsh chemicals from your home there are plenty of options that could work for your lifestyle.
I’m interested in removing harsh chemicals from my cleaning routine but want to keep my cleaning habits the same
If you want to take the first step to reduce your use of household chemicals, but you don’t know where to start, next time you’re at the supermarket look for environmentally friendly alternatives. Start by actually reading the ingredients label – if it contains a lot of unfamiliar words that look like they could be chemicals, they probably are. Look to see if the packaging can be recycled or if there are refillable options and look to buy sustainable cloths and sponges.
I want to remove harsh chemicals from my cleaning routine completely, I like the idea of homemade recipes
As mentioned, the first step to truly cleaning green means educating yourself about the ingredients you’re using. Replacing chemical ingredients for natural alternatives takes a little more time and effort, but will be cost-effective while helping protect your home and the environment. There are plenty of natural cleaning recipes available that work well with long-lasting reusable cloths and sponges. Store in reusable glass containers to reduce household waste.
I want to effectively clean my home with water and not buy cleaning products for 3 years
ENJO cleaning products mean business when it comes to cleaning green. The products are made at their 100% carbon neutral HQ in Austria, the fibre technology allows you to clean more effectively than chemicals with just water, and once you’ve purchased the product you can use them for 3 years simply clean, wash, repeat.
Please share your green cleaning tips in the comments and let us know what you like most about cleaning green.