Introducing Eco Green Cleaning Products
More and more people are trying to find an effective Green Cleaner for the entire range of cleaning jobs around the home. There are countless brands telling us that they are now the best, Safe Eco Green Cleaning Product in town. But why are we so interested in switching to a Safe Cleaning Product and is there really any point? Do we need to make cleaning Eco friendly?
I guess it depends on what kind of household cleaning product you’re thinking about switching from. I know lots of people who switch to an Eco Cleaning Product for their hand dishwashing detergent, but use conventional products for everything else. That is nearly pointless behaviour. And, sadly, it proves the point that many people jump on the ‘Eco Cleaning Product’ or ‘Green Cleaner’ bandwagon without any real thought to why they should switch. I think a bottle of ‘Ecover’ or similar green hand dishwashing detergent looks nice on the counter-top. But does switching that one product make any real difference to the pollutants in your home or the waste by-products of your home? Honest answer – not really!
It would be great if that switch to Green Cleaner for hand dishwashing was the start of a more generalised switch to Eco Cleaners. But, all too often the change stops there. We need to make all our cleaning Eco friendly!
What’s Wrong with Conventional Household Cleaning Products?
I think the best place to start is to have a look at the most common conventional cleaning products used at home. Maybe some are worse than others are. It would make sense to start with the most toxic, most polluting and most down right dangerous. Switch those to an Eco cleaning alternative product and we will have had a much bigger impact on the dangers at home and the toxic waste our households are responsible for.
To look at whether a household cleaner is ‘dangerous’ you would think you could just look at the label and see. But the cleaning business is big business so the manufacturers do not make it that simple. Sadly they are not required to list every ingredient or its volume in the finished product. But, even if they did list everything used to make a certain item it would not help most of us. Without a chemical background we cannot identify much of what goes into household cleaners anyway.
Even if we know exactly what an ingredient is, and what it does, we also need to consider what it does in conjuction with all the other ingredients in that cleaner plus any others it can come into contact with. Phew! That’s a lot of analysis.
Then there is the research about safety and toxicity of those ingredients. Much of the science is carried out by laboratories with a vested interest in the manufacturer succeeding in getting an item licensed. After all that is how the bills are paid. I doubt this is common practice but if it occurs just once we don’t know what we are cleaning our homes with. In 1983 Industrial Bio-Test, an important chemical testing laboratory was found guilty of providing falsified research that was used to support the registration of chemicals with the United States Environmental Protection Agency. In 1992 another laboratory; Craven Lakes was found guilty of the same.
This proves that chemical testing results can be skewed. I grant you two cases proved in twenty years is not proof of an endemic problem, and to be honest I doubt it is that common an occurrence. It doesn’t need to be. With nearly 70,000 chemicals already licensed for use in the US alone, most manufacturers do not need to use new ingredients in their concoctions!
The main issue I have with conventional household cleaning products is that the safety instructions take no account of how we will actually use an item.
For example, foaming oven cleaner should not be used in an enclosed space and the fumes should not be breathed in. But, most of us will be leaning into that oven to clean it. While we may have opened kitchen windows and doors we are still working very close to the toxic cleaner. There is a similar issue with bathroom cleaners, many of which should only be used in a well-ventilated space. How then do we safely clean an enclosed shower cubicle with them?
Another big issue is mixing up those chemical concoctions. Bleach mixed with acid can give rise to an extremely dangerous mix of chlorine gas. And, though we are instructed not to mix chemical cleaners I believe the chances are many people have used a limescale remover and a bleach-cleaner in their bathroom during the same cleaning stint. The problem with chemical cleaners is they promise they earth and when they don’t deliver we often throw caution to the wind and throw more chemicals on the problem.
In truth, the way we use our chemical cleaners at home is probably one of the biggest concerns with them. Glass and window cleaners for instance are relatively safe. They only tend to contain a very small amount of harmful ammonia. But, we spritz those cleaners and get up real close, breathing in that fine mist allowing ammonia onto our lungs. It is not ideal is it?
My approach to making the switch from conventional to Eco cleaning products is to prioritise. Before worrying about switching to Ecover hand dishwashing detergent I wanted to switch all those household cleaners I found to be:
- Toxic to my home and family.
- Toxic and polluting to the environment.
- Irritating to my home and family.
So I listed all those cleaners that have fumes that irritate my throat or nose when using them. Then, cleaners with dangerous ingredients, including possibly fatal poisons. Then I looked at the polluting waste that came from my house as a result of using a product. Did it mean our wastewater was impossible to treat? Would our trash contain chemicals likely to pollute groundwater etc?
It is a tough job to research, and a lot of the conclusions are very personal. Circumstances dictate what kind of toxicity you deem dangerous. I think anything which could be fatal if found my small children is a no-no, but that’s just my personal choice.
I did not make a switch overnight, but changed one product as it ran out. This gave me time to find a green cleaner whether bought or homemade, with which to replace my conventional cleaner. Gradually I am making my cleaning Eco friendly, but it really does take time!
I have slowly switched to what I consider to be safe cleaners around the home. But, I am a realist. There is absolutely no point in simply swapping all your conventional cleaners for an environmentally friendly alternatives. For a start, you won’t find replacements for everything. If you use drain cleaner, for instance, you will not find a green alternative that dissolves all that muck in quite the same way.
To move away from chemical household cleaners and make cleaning Eco friendly, requires a change in expectations and attitudes too.
Green Cleaning will require some activity on your part! Chemical cleaners have promised an ever-decreasing role for us in the actual cleaning process. Just squirt it on, leave, and then rinse off. It takes strong chemicals to dissolve dirt and grease without any mechanical action. If you want to clean with a green cleaner expect to at least do some rubbing!
That is not to say green cleaners are not good at cleaning, it is just they are often not the miracle workers we have come to expect! We have to start taking part in the process of cleaning our homes!
I also think moving away from chemical cleaners should go hand in hand with less reliance on anti-bacterial promises! Children suffer from more allergies than ever before. It is my belief that a large factor in these allergies is an unnaturally weak immune system because children encounter fewer safe microbes around their home than ever before. Not all those bacteria are dangerous! And, no matter how often you spray an antibacterial cleaner, you will not irradicate them, you only spread more allergy causing chemical particles to float around your home!
Rather than rely on some magic potion we need to take responsibility and return to proper hygiene around the home. Highlight those areas where dangerous bacteria may be of concern and start cleaning them properly, regularly. The main culprits will be chopping boards and hands. But you don’t need to spray anti-bacterials all over them. Warm soapy washes for hands, in running water and hot soapy or salty washes for cutting boards please!
I hope this site will be of interest to those of you considering a switch to more environmentally friendly safe cleaners. Whether those Eco Green Cleaning Products are homemade or bought commercially is a matter of preference. We will talk about the two. Whether you want to ditch all your old cleaners or just a few of the particularly nasty ones this site should help you find the ideal green cleaning product to make your cleaning Eco friendly.