You may have heard of ‘green cleaning’ but you might be a bit confused as to what it really means. Well simply put, green cleaning involves ditching all of your usual high-street branded cleaning products in favour of less toxic alternatives.
Now that might sound like a bit of a hassle to you – do you really have enough time in the day to faff around making homemade washing detergents or mixing oils together to clean out your microwave? Regrettably the answer is often ‘no’ and most of us will inevitably wander back to the supermarket shelves despite knowing what awaits us.
However today I’m here to try and convince you to give green cleaning a chance and to offer simple, easy solutions to help you achieve a less toxic environment for you and your family. Without further ado, let’s take a look at my top five benefits of green cleaning and what you can do to make the change that much easier.
#1 Reduces indoor pollution
Pollution is a real buzzword that we’re all familiar with – it’s everywhere nowadays, in magazines and on television, however when you hear ‘pollution’ you probably picture melting polar caps or car exhaust fumes.
What you probably don’t realise is that pollution is all around you, in your own home. Indoor air pollution is a very serious problem and one that has caught the attention of the World Health Organisation in recent years. It’s even been linked to the development of asthma and unfortunately those most vulnerable to the effects are children.
"We now know that air pollution has a substantial impact on many chronic long-term conditions….and now there is compelling evidence that air pollution is associated with new onset asthma in children and adults." 1
The above quote was made by Professor Stephen Holgate and highlights just what a problem air pollution has become. Although a variety of factors can play in to how polluted your home is – tobacco smoke, mould and carbon monoxide just to name a few! – your cleaning products are also to blame since they’re packed with toxic chemicals, including chlorine, parabens and phosphates!
Switching to green cleaning might not make all your air pollution problems go away overnight but it will dramatically reduce them, creating a safer environment for your children and your pets!
My suggestion: Concentrated products such as bleach tend to be the main offender for indoor pollution which is why if you’re going to switch any of your products; it’s the one that should definitely go first! Ecover are one of our favourite natural cleaning brands here at Jan de Vries, and they offer a natural, eco-friendly toilet cleaner, with a gentle sea breeze fragrance that’s just as effective but without any of the noxious fumes!
#2 Great for the environment
Moving onwards from pollution to the environment! A lot of people aren’t aware of how their bleach and toilet cleaner affect the world around them. Well they do and not for the better – let’s talk about phosphates!
Phosphates are commonplace in most household cleaning products and eventually they enter the sewage system and get filtered into lakes and rivers. In small amounts, phosphates can be beneficial for aquatic life but too much of it can result in an overgrowth of algae that ends up killing other plant life and affecting the oxygen count in the water, essentially suffocating other aquatic life.
Definitely bad news for the aquatic life that lives in these rivers, however it doesn’t end there. Most cleaning products aren’t biodegradable either, meaning that they take years to decompose naturally. If you choose to change to green cleaning it can help to preserve aquatic life and improve the environment, which realistically needs all the help it can get right now.
My suggestion: If you’re worried about phosphates, all of Ecover’s products are 100% phosphate and cruelty-free! Or, you could try making your own toilet cleaner – minimal faffing required, I promise! Simply mix a little ordinary vinegar with some lemon juice. Combine with an essential oil of your choosing – I usually go for Optima’s Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil as it’s naturally an antibacterial agent. Mix with a little baking soda and voila! You have your own quick and easy toilet cleaner!
#3 No more toxic residues
Let’s look at it this way – your cleaning products are ordinarily full of toxins. You use these products to wipe down your surfaces and then prepare food in the same place. More often than not, at least some of the toxins you’ve been cleaning with get transferred to your food and then ingested by your family and your pets – not exactly an ideal situation!
Green cleaning products try to limit the chemical ingredients that they use and while we definitely DO NOT recommend trying to ingest them, the chances are they are not as abrasive as their shop bought counterparts. No nasty toxins are being transferred to your children’s dinner plates and your dog is free to lick the kitchen floor in peace.
My suggestion: I personally love using Ecover’s Multi-Action Wipes – no hassle and no fussing around with sprays. They’re biodegradable and great for high-chairs and changing mats. If I have enough time though, I also try to make my own polish. Ordinary olive oil is great to use on its own if you’re in a rush but I always try to mix it with a little white vinegar and some lemon juice. It’s simple, easy and extremely effective!
#4 Gentler for delicate skin
Irritable skin conditions are extremely common – whether you suffer from sensitive skin or full-on bouts of eczema, the last thing you want are your clothes to start causing you problems. Unfortunately parabens and phthalates are prevalent in conventional detergents and fabric conditioners and sometimes companies are not even required by law to tell you that they’re there!
Switching to green cleaning products can help to support your skin instead of aggravating it. There’s plenty of non-bio and fragrance-free options and most of the time they’re formulated with delicate skin in mind whether you suffer from psoriasis or are looking for a kind laundry detergent for your baby’s clothes!
My suggestion: Ecover recently brought out a new range of products called ZERO which exclude fragrances, enzymes and colours. It includes Washing up Liquid and Laundry Powder – all 100% non-bio! I’d highly recommending checking this selection out if you have sensitive skin as I’ve found it’s a real life saver, especially during winter when my skin’s quite prone to irritation.
#5 Safer for pregnant women
A lot of things change when you fall pregnant but you probably didn’t imagine that your bleach or toilet cleaner might have to go as well! Well surprisingly quite a lot of pregnant women find themselves switching to greener products because they are worried about how chemicals like ammonia and bleach will affect their unborn child.
Statistically, providing you ventilate your home properly, you should be just fine using ordinary bleach and detergent. The one product you really need to avoid though, according WebMD is oven cleaner as the fumes can be extremely dangerous to inhale. Most green cleaning oven cleaners are safe to use though as they do not incorporate the same harsh chemicals and do not produce the same overwhelming fumes. Many women understandably don’t want to take any chances though, which is why we’d definitely suggest making the change.
My suggestion: Definitely switch to Ecover’s Oven Cleaner. It’s amazing when it comes to lifting thick grease and burnt-on food without any overwhelming chemical fumes. Powerful and fast-drying, you can even use it to clean your hob too! No ionic surfactants, just natural plant-based and mineral ingredients!