Guide to Making the Switch to Green Cleaning
Interest is growing around the world in green cleaning products. This is good news for Mother Earth, as these are products with no carbon footprint. They have less impact on individuals’ health and the environment than conventional ones that are made with harmful chemicals.
Making the switch to green is supposed to be easy, but that is rarely the case. With so many products to choose from, customers may be spoilt for choice, but they also have to do the sifting to know what’s genuine and what’s not. This can be pretty confusing to the average consumer.
When you are making the switch from using chemicals to green cleaning, there are certain things to take into consideration.
A first-time buyer’s guide to harmful ingredients
Knowing the kind of ingredients to avoid is one of the first steps to making the switch to green cleaning. “Natural” is a term that is used by some manufacturers to pull the wool over the eyes of consumers who are shopping for green products. Here’s a rundown of some ingredients to watch out for …
Ammonia is found in polishing agents and glass cleaners. It is used as a solvent to dissolve grease, oil, and grime without streaking. This ingredient is an irritant that worsens lung and breathing issues.
Chlorine, which is used as a microbial agent, is found in scouring powders, mildew removers, toilet bowl cleaners, and laundry whiteners. This ingredient is a lung irritant and may be a thyroid disruptor.
Sodium hydroxide (caustic soda, lye) is used as a pH adjuster and is found in drain openers and oven cleaners. This ingredient causes severe throat, skin, and eye burns.
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is used as a foaming agent and surfactant and is found in dish soap and all-purpose cleaners. It is an endocrine disruptor, neurotoxin, possible carcinogen, and skin irritant.
Formaldehyde is found in air fresheners, toilet paper, all-purpose cleaners, and dish soap. It is used as an anti-microbial agent and a preservative. This ingredient is a known carcinogen and may cause an immune response. It is also a nose, throat, and eye irritant.
Perchloroethylene, also known as PERC, is commonly found in spot removers, dry-cleaning solutions, and carpet cleaners. It is used as a solvent to dissolve wax, grease, grime, and oil without damaging the fabric. It is a neurotoxin and a possible carcinogen.
2-Butoxyethanol (glycol ethers) is used as a surfactant and solvent and is found in kitchens, windows, and all-purpose cleaners. It can cause kidney and liver damage, narcosis, and pulmonary edema.
Triclosan is an ingredient used in detergents, antibacterial soaps, and dishwashing detergents. It is used as an antimicrobial agent. This ingredient is a possible endocrine disruptor and a probable carcinogen. It promotes the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.
The fragrance is used in air fresheners, all-purpose cleaners, toilet paper, and dish soap. Fragrance often contains phthalates, which won’t be listed in the ingredients. It is an endocrine disruptor and can cause reproductive issues.
Quarternary ammonium compound is used as a surfactant and antimicrobial agent and is found in fabric softeners, and cleaners labeled as “antibacterial”. This ingredient may cause asthma. It is also a skin irritant.
Making safer choices
Ecolabels are a good tool to help purchasers quickly and easily identify products that are “greener”. However, consumers need to be careful in interpreting vague or generic claims on products such as “environmentally friendly,” “eco-safe,” or “green” (also known as “greenwashing”).
To make it easier for purchasers to identify greener cleaning products, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) manages the Safer Choice program, which certifies products that contain safer ingredients for human health and the environment.
In addition to the Safer Choice label, EPA offers the Design for the Environment (DfE) label on antimicrobial products, such as disinfectants and sanitizers. Whether a product displays the Safer Choice label or the DfE label, the same stringent requirements and high standards must be met for that product to become certified. EPA provides online search tools to help consumers and purchasers find Safer Choice and DfE-certified products.
Additionally, EPA has developed a set of Recommendations in several cleaning product categories, that identify credible and effective private sector standards/ecolabels.
Do your research
If you have chosen the cleaning product that you want to replace with a green product, do your research before you settle on one replacement. Finding a suitable alternative will take, for instance, searching online to see what’s out there in the market.
Read the fine print of every green product. Also, read the ratings and reviews of the different green products on offer. Reading other users’ experiences will help you make a choice, besides helping you to know what to expect from the product before you spend your money.
Where to buy green cleaning products
Unlike in the early days of the green cleaning revolution, when cleaning products were hard to find, nowadays consumers have items literally at their fingertips. You can browse and shop in the comfort of your living room. Manufacturers have websites to give consumers a seamless shopping experience. Find us here.
The sheer variety on Amazon, plus their low prices make them a great place to purchase natural products, ingredients, and supplies like glass spray bottles. Talking about bottles, find us here.
If you are the type that prefers to purchase your eco-friendly products in brick-and-mortar establishments, you’ll still spend less money in the long run, since there are fewer ingredients in green products.
Pick and try
After you have followed the above steps, it is time to get down to brass tacks. For a start, do not settle for just one product. You want to find what works for you, and this takes some trying.
Pick a couple of products and spend some time with them. Two cleaning ingredients may have the same natural ingredients, but they make work differently because of various reasons. The aim of doing this is that you want to pick a product that will work specifically for you and that you can stick with. You don’t want to keep experimenting for months on end. This often happens when a consumer buys a product, realizes it doesn’t work for them; replaces it with another …repeating the same tedious and money-consuming process.
Chuck out and save the environment
After you have found the green cleaning products that work for you, chuck out the products you were using before you made the switch.
But don’t just chuck them out, though. Make sure you do so responsibly. Remember, the whole purpose of doing this switch is to save the environment.
When you decide to make the switch to green cleaning, you will be met with misconceptions. One of the biggest misconceptions about green living is that it’s wildly expensive. That’s not true. These products are pocket-friendly and are within the reach of every consumer.
The second misconception is that green cleaning is extremely difficult to achieve, and you will require tons of elbow grease to get your work done. This misconception is borne out of the fact that, over time, we have been made to believe – through ads and social conditioning – that products with chemicals are superior, and work with the slightest effort.
The third misconception is that green cleaning is extremely time-consuming. We live in a microwave world, where we want things done in a fast and furious manner.
The fourth common misconception is that green cleaning products are just gimmicks and duds, and they do not help the environment or individuals’ health. It has been proven that green cleaning products are typically safer for the environment and people’s health than their nongreen equivalents.
The fifth misconception is that green cleaning is not as effective as traditional cleaning. Green cleaners are not corrosive and must meet strict guidelines regarding toxicity and skin absorption. Experts certify that most green cleaning is as efficient and mostly more effective than traditional cleaning. Besides, there is standardization in this industry. Certifying organizations such as Ecolabel, Green Sticker, and DfE set performance standards for green cleaning products that must be met and approved.
Where to find green-natural cleaning products?
Visit our Clean InVogue product collection store to get your glass spray bottle.
You can also connect with me using this quick links resource or grab your Simple & Clean Budget Friendly Meals: Your 5-Day Plan for more great insights.
Read more stories like this on our blog.