Greening Your Cleaning
[Photo: A great way to know that a green product’s claims are valid is through a third-party certification seal such as Green Seal.]
As I announced to friends and family that I would begin writing for Empire Today’s blog, I asked what sustainable topics they would be most interested to read about. The overwhelming majority came up with green cleaning. I was thrilled to hear this because it’s an overlooked but important area of home sustainability. And with all the subtopics this theme umbrellas, it leaves me plenty to share with you all.
Subsequent posts on green cleaning will each focus on a particular area where I’ll discuss great ways to make your own cleaning supplies as well as recommendations for the best products available for purchase. A frequent complaint is that green cleaning supplies just can’t get the job done like their counterparts with harsher ingredients, but I aim to point you in the direction of the most effective supply for each cleaning job you have. However, with this being the first green cleaning blog, I thought I’d begin by covering the basics.
To begin, why do you care about greening your cleaning? Cleaning supplies are, obviously, intended to make something dirty you come in contact with clean. Pretty straightforward. But the concept of what is clean gets a little fuzzy. Do you consider something that is recommended to be dropped off at a hazardous material center a clean product? Is a cleaner that is shown to increase the risk of asthma a clean product? What about products that are such harsh irritants to the body that it’s recommended you don’t come in direct contact with them? Unfortunately, in the mainstream cleaning industry, items that fall into these categories are some of the most common cleaning supplies. To me, when I think clean, images of facemasks and toxic logos just don’t come to mind. I think we can do better than that. Don’t get me wrong, a house recently cleaned with heavy chemicals still brings to mind walking into my grandma’s house when she was expecting guests. But when you think less nostalgically and more pragmatically, you understand those smells do not a clean house make.
In this , allow me to give you some basic tips that will save money and benefit the environment.
  1. A simple way to begin is to start purchasing your normal supplies in a smarter way. Often when you are buying cleaning supplies, you are paying for the brand name, the packaging, and surprisingly, water. Purchasing bulk products or, better yet, concentrated products that you can dilute at home is a start to saving you money and reducing waste.
  2. Make sure you dispose of old cleaning supplies properly and not down your sinks. Toxic chemicals pollute water systems, causing “adverse reproductive effects” to the exposed aquatic wildlife, according to the EPA. Click here for ways to dispose of old household hazardous materials.
  3. The paper towels have to go. This may actually be harder than changing what products you use, but if you’re serious about reducing the environmental impact in your home, this needs to be addressed. Monetarily, an investment in reusable cleaning rags will pay for itself very quickly. If you’re concerned about cleaning your kitchen with a rag that was used previously on toilets, try color coordinating rags for each room of the house. For an added boost of cleanliness, add ½ c. of vinegar to the wash for the rags to keep them super clean.
I’m excited to begin this series on green cleaning. If there is a specific cleaning supply alternative you’d like to know about, please let me know. I’d love to tailor blogs towards the readers’ wishes.

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