The focus for this chat is – Greener Cleaning. This is to tie in with a new monthly focus for Eco Living Ideas, so I thought it would be a great place to kick-start the focus and share some information.
We will cover:
- What is Greener Cleaning
- The health implications of using “regular” cleaning products
- The environmental impact of man-made cleaning products
- Some safe, easy and affordable switches
Watch the video replay below or scroll down for a rough transcript.
What is Greener Cleaning
Greener cleaning is all about being conscious of the cleaning products you are using in your home, on your car and anywhere else you may clean. We need to be so conscious of the products we use, and I’m not just talking about which toilet cleaner or kitchen spray. I mean what sponges, cloths, laundry powder and such as well. All of these things can contain harmful chemicals, plastics, metals and more. Things that can damage you, your children, pets and other animals. They fill our water system with toxic solutions which can pollute and kill aquatic life.
So when you think of greener cleaning, try to look at the bigger picture (and it is a HUGE area to look at), and maybe take it one product at a time to switch over to more environmentally conscious products.
The health implications of using “regular” cleaning products
Have you ever considered what affect the cleaning products you use might have on your health? I know that I never really did until I had my daughters. I then didn’t want to clean when they were around because of the unsafe chemicals and fumes. And then I thought, well why am I still putting my body at risk? It made no sense what so ever.
And then when you look in to it, it’s actually worse than you think. Here are some of the facts I have found:
- In as little as 26 seconds after exposure, chemicals can be found in the human body in measurable amounts. That means it doesn’t matter how far away from your kids you spray, or how quickly you get the cleaning job done – once you squeeze the nozzle, it’s too late.
- Fabric softeners contain harmful ingredients such as: Benzyl Acetate – linked to pancreatic cancer. Benzyl Alcohol – upper respiratory tract irritant. Ethanol – linked to central nervous system disorders
- When mixed, the contents of certain cleaners can trigger dangerous chemical reactions. Mixing chemicals such as bleach and ammonia causes them to produce toxic fumes that, when inhaled, cause coughing; difficulty breathing; and irritation of the throat, eyes and nose.
- Many cleaning supplies and household products can irritate the eyes or throat, or cause headaches and other health problems, including cancer.
- Other chemicals found in household cleaning products are: Formaldehyde – can cause cancer and is a skin irritation. Ethanolamine – can impact the respiratory system and nervous system. Sodium Borate – effects developmental, endocrine and reproductive systems. Methylisothiazolinone – is a known allergen and toxicant.
The good news is, there are now so many safe products to use, and even ingredients you can use to make your own cleaning products. So all of these things can easily be avoided.
The environmental impact of man-made cleaning products
There is a lot of concern about the chemicals which are put in to cleaning products. There are actually thousands of these chemicals which are incuse and they haven’t been tested for safety, although the effects of them are known. The problem with not testing is that we don’t know exactly how they will affect streams and rivers and how long they will take to degrade in to harmless products. Some may never break down at all and may then be consumed by aquatic animals and end up in our food chain too.
Detergents are all now biodegradable, though some may break down quicker than others, but they often contain chemicals which may cause problems. Phosphates can cause eutrophication, upsetting the balance of nutrients in rivers and streams, while many products also contain enzymes, bleaches, brighteners and perfumes.
Triclosan is an anti-microbial chemical that is commonly used in households as an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent found in soaps, detergents, and other disinfectants. During water treatment to remove Triclosan, other chemicals are formed which are incredible harmful to aquatic life including dioxins. These have been proven to cause cancer as well as immense developmental issues in almost every vertebrate species. Most notably, Triclosan has been found in aquatic snails and algae.
Ammonia is a disinfecting chemical that is used in household cleaning products such as floor cleaners and glass cleaners. Ammonia is a significant air pollutant and is a primary source of nitrogen oxide, which is toxic to plants, a food source for many organisms. The ammonia that is not absorbed by plants is turned into nitrates in the water system. The presence of ammonium is integral to the nitrogen cycle, which negatively impacts the environment.
I’m not going to carry on with these facts – from those 3 examples you can see the hideous consequences that household cleaning products can have. If you do want to read more then check out this Wikipedia link.
Some safe, easy and affordable switches
You’ll be pleased to know that it isn’t all that difficult to make some seriously big switches, very quickly and very affordably! As with all eco switches, you need to do things in your own time and at your own pace but, please ask for help! Ask me in the comments or in the Eco Living Community group. I have done so much research on this, and am continuing to do more and more research, I want to share that with you.
I have also tried loads of different eco alternatives out so again, I’m happy to offer my opinions or advice if I can.
Let’s start at the beginning of this area to switch – take all your cleaning products and put them together in one place. This includes washing powder, fabric conditioner, washing up liquid, floor cleaner and everything in between. Then work out what you don’t really need to use any more. For example – you don’t need fabric conditioner or ironing water – it does nothing except pollute your home and clothes. Use up what you have and then don’t buy any more – there, I’ve just saved you some money.
Start to work your way through the products that you have and as you come to the end of one, find a better alternative! There are so many eco options on the market. Postal refills, shop refills, making your own with vinegar, bicarb, soda crystals, citric acid and lemons (not all together I should add!). You can buy plastic free, natural sponges and scourers that last longer, are more hygienic and don’t cost a lot more.
Once you start looking you will see that you can make these changes, without any change to your lifestyle or habits and you will stop putting yourself, your family and the planet in danger.
If you want help on a specific product to switch – ask in the comments! And please join me on my Facebook page or Instagram for the whole of March as I share some amazing products and information on Greener Cleaning.