Why & How To Make The Switch To Green Cleaning

Are you looking to make the switch to an all natural home, but don’t know where to start? You are not alone! Converting your home to an all natural space takes time and effort. The best way to go about it, is to choose one area of your household to convert to all natural products. For me, it was starting with cleaning products. 
 

What Is ‘Green Cleaning’?

Green cleaning is a term used to denote environment friendly cleaning products that are free of harmful chemicals and instead use natural ingredients that are eco-friendly.  Green cleaning has gained popularity over recent years, however, the notion of green cleaning started back in the 1960’s. Consumers are now becoming more aware and more informed about green products and sustainability. 
 

Why Make The Switch From Everyday Cleaning Products To Green Cleaning?

Did you know that in Canada it is not required to have warning labels for damage to both health and the environment on cleaning products and manufacturers are not required to list ingredients. Most of us are exposed to household cleaners and their residues on an ongoing basis but since warning labels are not required we have no idea the damage these chemicals are doing to our bodies. Common commercial cleaning products are loaded with toxic and polluting substances. They can cause damage to long term health and lead to environmental pollution due to their manufacturing processes and disposal. 
 
Most of us are cleaning our homes on a weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly basis. If you are like me, then cleaning happens once a week. For me, the best part about coming home is knowing that I am coming home to a clean and tidy environment. Now, when it comes to cleaning your home we all want to use products that can get the job done well and leave the place looking shiny and smelling fresh. It was not until recently that I started reading the labels of the cleaning agents I used and noticed the laundry list of chemicals that were present. It was scary to think about the amount of chemical residues that exist in my home due to the cleaning products I chose to use. These chemicals are not only dangerous to your long-term health but also for the environment we live and breathe in everyday. 
 
So, what can be done to keep your home clean and sparkly while not hurting your health or the environment? The answer is GREEN CLEANING! 
 

Chemicals Found In Regular Cleaning Agents

It is important to go green for both health purposes and environmental purposes. There are more than 80,000 chemicals that can be used in cleaning agents, some of which have not gone through enough testing in terms of health safety.  Examples of chemicals that are found in cleaning agents that can cause bodily harm include:
  • 1,4- Dioxane
    • Carcinogen
    • Found in many detergents
  • Chlorine Bleach
    • Linked to respiratory and neurological effects as well as cancer
  • Perchloroethylene (PERC)
    • Neurotoxin and possible carcinogen
    • Found in many household cleaners
  • Chloroform 
    • Carcinogen
    • Most commonly found in dryer sheets 
  • Ammonia 
    • Found in glass cleaners
    • Can worsen lung conditions
  • Formaldehyde 
    • Carcinogen that can worsen lung conditions and can be irritating to the skin
    • Used in products as a preservative
  • 2- Butoxyethanol (2-BE, BCEE) 
    • ‚ÄčCan be irritating to the skin and eyes
    • Found in laundry stain removers, oven cleaners 
 
If causing bodily harm is not enough for you to switch to more natural cleaning products consider how these products can also affect the environment. Cleaning products are released into the environment through evaporation of volatile chemicals and by washing these down the drain. These chemicals can then cause nutrient loading in bodies of water which can negatively impact water quality. 
 

Best Way to Start Green Cleaning

Switching to all natural products for cleaning and toiletries does not happen overnight. No one has the money or time for that! It does not have to be done all at once. In fact when it is done in a frenzy it only creates more work and more stress for you. The trick is to do it slowly over time and focus on ONE PRODUCT AT A TIME as you need to replace it. Everytime you run out of a cleaning product, replace it with an all natural one. Only replace something when you have used up the current product as there is no point in wasting money. Often times, the first thing to go will be your mostly used product. 
 
The upside is now there are a number of green cleaning products that we carry here at vitamart.ca, like soaps, laundry detergents, dryer sheets, all purpose cleaners, disinfectants and so much more. These green cleaning products are free of undesirable toxins and chemicals that can harm both you and the environment you live in. Aside from store-bought cleaning products you can also choose to make your own which ingredients you have lying around. 
 

Natural DIY Alternatives For Cleaning Products

  1. White vinegar - Vinegar is a great natural cleaning agent that can remove grease, odour and stains. It is safe to use on almost all surfaces except marble. Use it to clean kitchen appliances, countertops and the stovetop. Mix 1 part vinegar + 1 part water in a spray bottle.
  2. Baking Soda - The grainy texture of baking soda can help to break down stains. It is great to clean the tub, shower tiles and kitchen sink. It is also a great deodorizer. 1 part salt + 1 part baking soda + 1 part water works great for removing stains and leaving countertops shiny and clean!
  3. Essential Oils - Essential oils are powerful, concentrated oils that are made from flowers, leaves and roots of plants. Adding essential oils around the house with the use of plug-ins or diffusers are a great way to a natural fresh smelling home! More importantly, some essential oils can also be added to your DIY cleaning products as they also have antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. Such essential oils include: lavender, orange, tea tree and peppermint
  4. Microfiber Cloths - These are washable, and reusable. They are great to trap and absorb dirt, grease and dust. These can be used to clean glass, mirrors, and electronics. These are a great alternative to paper towels.
  5. All-Purpose cleaner - Mix ½ cup vinegar + ¼ cup baking soda + 1 L of water + few drops of essential oils for the smell. 
 

Natural Ready-Made Alternatives For Cleaning Products

If you are not the DIY type, don’t fret! There are plenty of great, safe and effective natural cleaning brands to try. Ensure to read labels for all-natural cleaning products. Make sure there is a complete specific ingredient list with full disclosure of chemical names. Ensure the cleaner is void of any harmful chemicals found in conventional cleaning products mentioned above. It is important to avoid scented cleaners that may contain synthetic fragrance or parfum. Lastly, ensure the product has a third-party certified eco-label, ex. EcoLogo, Green Seal or EcoCert. 
 
Check out some of environmentally friendly cleaning brands we carry here at vitamart.ca: Mrs. Myers, J.R Watkins, Seventh Generation, Dr. Bronner’s. 
 
 
 
For many people making the switch to living in an all natural home is on top of their priority list. However, often times, this transition/switch can be daunting and quite overwhelming if you just don’t know where to start or what to look for. The most important part about making this switch easy is to focus on one area of the home, which in today’s post was switching to all natural/green cleaning products. Once you have picked an area you want to focus on, switch one product at a time as the bottle finishes. Reading the labels of all household cleaning products can be a real eye opener in terms of the number of toxins that can be sitting around your home.  Using natural cleaning agents can eliminate exposure to toxic chemicals which is a huge benefit on overall and long-term health and creates a sustainable environment. Why not make the switch NOW! 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
**Disclaimer
The advice in this article is for informational purposes only. It does not replace the care of a Naturopathic physician.