August 23, 2021 by admin
Now, more than ever, we are looking for ways to reduce our negative impact on the environment and keep our families healthy. Purchasing organic food, reducing energy consumption, and minimizing waste are all easy ways to be responsible environmental stewards.
But what about household cleaning products? What is a green or safe household cleaner? And how do you decipher the labels?
As you peruse the grocery store shelves, you may notice various labels on safe household cleaning products, such as “environmentally friendly,” “eco-safe,” or “green.” But what do those labels mean? None have formal definitions, but all three terms usually refer to cleaners that keep our environment healthy and free of toxins, are made from natural and organic ingredients, and are biodegradable.
Why choose green products?
Cleaning properly by removing dust, mold and other allergens are all important for a healthy home. However, some household cleaning products have chemicals that can contribute to adverse health effects. They can also have detrimental effects on your home’s indoor air quality and the environment as a whole.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit that seeks to empower consumers with research to help them live a healthy life in a healthy environment, we spend at least half of each day indoors, where there may be as much as two to five times more air pollution as there are outdoors. The biggest culprits are chemicals from furniture, dust, sprays, paint, and other household products.
To choose healthier household cleaning products, the American Lung Association advises against using any products that contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), as they can irritate your eyes or throat and cause headaches or other health problems, including cancer. Cleaning products that can include VOCs include:
- Aerosol spray products
- Air fresheners
- Chlorine bleach
- Detergent and dishwashing liquid
- Dry cleaning chemicals
- Oven cleaners
- Rug and upholstery cleaners
- Furniture and floor polish
Making it easier to be green
Here are some organizations that apply specific standards to household cleaners, making it easier for you to make informed choices when purchasing green products.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s “Safer Choice Program” (https://www.epa.gov/greenerproducts/identifying-greener-cleaning-products) helps consumers choose household cleaners by certifying products that contain safer ingredients for human health and the environment. The Safer Choice Database allows you to search by name to find out if a product meets the Safer Choice Standard. The EPA list includes a feature to filter its certified products by those that are proven to kill the COVID-19 virus.
The EWG also developed a list of products that meets its research-based standards for healthy cleaning. Those 18 products, which include dish soaps, laundry detergents, bathroom cleaners, kitchen cleaners, dishwasher detergents, and all-purpose cleaners, can include the EWG VERIFIED™ mark on their packaging.
Lastly, Green Seal, a global nonprofit, allows products that pass its rigorous certification process for health, sustainability, and product performance to carry its label.
If you are using a household cleaning service rather than purchasing your products, ask them if they provide safe household cleaning product options.
DIY Safe Household Cleaners
If you’d rather use homemade products, it is very simple to craft safe household cleaners using products you probably already have in your pantry or refrigerator.
Here are some essential tools and ingredients you’ll need and recipes to get you started:
- Spray bottles
- White vinegar
- Baking soda
- Tea tree, lavender, and grapefruit essential oils
- Lemon rinds
- Rosemary sprigs
- Liquid dish soap
Combine 1 ½ cups of baking soda with ½ cup of warm water, ½ cup of liquid soap (such as Dawn), and two tablespoons of distilled vinegar
Combine 13 ounces of hot water, ½ cup of white vinegar, 15 drops of grapefruit essential oil, 10 drops of lavender essential oil, and seven drops of lemon essential oil
Combine one cup of distilled white vinegar, one cup of water, three drops of tea tree oil, and three drops of grapefruit essential oil.
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