April 22 marks Earth Day. Since 1970, millions of people in over 175 countries worldwide have used this day to consider how they can change their consumption habits in order to make a positive contribution to the protection and preservation of our planet.
For us here at Helpling, it’s an opportunity to consider the impact our domestic cleaning habits have on the Earth, and what we can do to make a more positive change. Introducing an Earth friendly cleaning routine in the home doesn’t necessarily have to be a major inconvenience. Here’s our advice for minimizing the environmental impact your cleaning routine has on the planet.
Is your cleaning equipment Eco-Friendly?
The more durable your cleaning equipment, the more environmentally friendly your cleaning routine is. Throwing out just a couple of sponges a week amounts to a massive number of sponges that are thrown out per household over the course of several years. You can easily prolong the lifetime of your sponges by soaking them for a few minutes in vinegar, then washing and soaking them in just plain water.
Mops with microfiber heads can be washed and reused, lasting longer than those without the microfiber in them. You should also opt for biodegradable products (e.g. wooden handle mops and brooms) and cellulose sponges. If you don’t find biodegradable ones, you can also seek products made from recycled plastic and, by proxy, contribute to the market for recycled materials.
Avoid hazardous ingredients
Most deep cleaning products contain a lot of chemicals, for example formaldehyde (classified as carcinogenic by the World Health Organization), chloroform (found in chlorine bleach and also suspect carcinogen) or even Triclosan, if it’s an antibacterial product. Keep an eye and avoid these ingredients, and of course avoid flammable, antibacterial or poisonous products.
In any case, do you actually even need these harsh chemicals around in your homes? The answer is no! In fact, you can have the same results with natural cleaning products. Of course, it depends on how much time you have, and the effort you can put in, as chemicals are often faster and stronger. But by committing a little more time to using natural cleaning products you will achieve the same results in a much more earth-friendly fashion! Homemade eco-friendly cleaning products are also safer and often much cheaper. Read on for our favorite Natural Cleaning tips in more detail.
Consider natural cleaning products
There are plenty of environmentally friendly cleaning alternatives that don’t require harmful chemicals. There’s not much you can’t clean around the home with vinegar, baking soda and lemons. Coffee and olive oil make pretty potent cleaners as well!
Vinegar and lemons act like a sterilizing agent and help to remove bad smells. Use them to clean surfaces and decalcify mineral deposits (for example in coffee pots). Just be careful which surfaces you use the acidic products on – important to know that some forms of stone (as an example) will not like it.
Baking soda is perfect for deep cleaning places like the oven or the toilet. For the oven, dilute it with a little bit of water, make a paste, scrub and let it rest for 20 minutes before you wash it off. You can apply this mixture to other several dirty surfaces too, as long as you avoid colored ones. For the toilet, mix it with vinegar and pour it in the toilet bowl. Leave it to sit for 20 minutes, scrub, and then flush. It’s really as simple as that!
A few drops of olive oil is a great solution for polishing steel surfaces and door handles after cleaning. For smelly sinks you can mix olive oil and a few drops of essential oils and rinse it down your sink – et voilà, your kitchen will smell fresh again! See other ways you can use use olive oil.
Coffee grounds work great to fight odours in your kitchen. Place coffee grounds on the counter-top in your kitchen. The bad odours will disappear from your kitchen within only a few hours. Helpling Tip: give your fridge and garbage a coffee break every now and then as well. Mixed with water, coffee is a great choice to use if you want to clean your dishes. Rub them with your mixture, let them soak for a few hours and wipe away the grime! Read our previous post about cleaning with coffee grounds.
Get rid of synthetic air fresheners
Wouldn’t you agree that after a long and stressful day at work, getting home and taking a big deep breath at home is one of the best feelings. So we are constantly on the hunt for air fresheners for the bathroom, kitchen and living room. But be careful: chemical fragrances often contain volatile organic compounds (VOC), which can be very harmful to health. According to a study by the University of Washington, air fresheners can release on average 18 chemicals into the air.
As an Earth friendly alternative to preserve nice smelling home, consider using a natural reed diffuser and artisanal sprays. Or even create your own environmentally friendly air freshener? In a spray bottle, mix: 10 parts warm water, 1 part vinegar, and a dozen or so drops of essential oils (lavender or vanilla for example). Vaporize this mix everywhere: carpets, rugs, kitchen, bathroom and curtains for a fresh, clean and green smelling home!
Re-purpose unexpected items for green cleaning
There’s plenty of products and items in the home you would think are destined for the trash, but could potentially be pretty potent cleaners. For example, used coffee grounds can remove and soak up grease from your pans. If you have semi-stale bread you can tackle the stains on the walls. Wipe the stained area with a cloth, remove the crusts from the bread, ball it up and then rub the wall gently (this also works on more abstract surfaces, like oil paintings). Finally, if you have a few sips of beer left from the previous night, don’t throw it away! You can use it to revive wooden furniture, clean silver or even marinade your dinner. Oh the endless possibilities… If everybody makes even just small changes to their cleaning routine, the collective impact on our planet can in fact be great. We hope you find our Earth friendly cleaning tips useful! Be sure to share your tips for eco friendly cleaning and let’s celebrate Earth Day all together!