Cleaning the House

If you live on your own, or have to do chores around your house, then you may know a thing or two about cleaning products. With everything that must be cleaned in a house, it is no surprise that hard chemicals are used to destroy hard stains and imperfections on any surface. I never really stop to think about the harm that these chemicals have on the environment. They work to clean my house and that was really all that mattered to me. Buying what was cheap, on sale, or worked the best was the only criteria for buying cleaning products. Well, now buying green is one more criteria.

The chemicals that are found in many cleaning products are horrible for the environment. The chemicals are contained inside usually, but if you clean with paper towels, those will go into a landfill and seep into the ground. If you clean with sponges, mops and any other reusable cleaning accessory (which is greener than paper towels and disposable cleaning products) than you will just wash those chemicals down the drain. Those chemicals are harmful. Just read the warning labels. They are toxic and the fumes are not the best. You may not realize it, but by breathing in the fumes of the cleaning products, you are damaging your own body as well. What are we supposed to do though?

There are three simple solutions that people can take. You can make your own environmentally friendly products, buy green products from the store, or if you use a cleaning service, use someone who guarantees the use of green cleaning products.

Making your own products is extremely simple and very cost effective. Usually the main ingredients to these types of cleaners are baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, borax, vegetable oil, and soap (try to find organic). Depending on what you want to do and/or clean, usually you just combine one or two of these items (at no more than 1 cup) to a generous amount of water and you have a very safe cleaning product (that may work better than any product you could buy). You can make a whole bottle of cleaning solution at fewer than three dollars, which is better than anything you can buy in the store. I’ve even heard that the use of flower petals and other organic fragrances can be added to solutions to give them a better scent. Research can give you a multitude of sites that provide exact recipes for many different green cleaning solutions.

For some, the thought of making your own concoction for cleaning is just not appealing. Well, there is good news. Though most main manufacturers of cleaning supplies have not jumped on the green band wagon, there are some that have. Clorox™ has a green line of products that won’t break the bank and work extremely well. Just go to your local store and look for labels that signify the product as eco-friendly. Cleaning doesn’t have to be as hazardous as it is. If you have any green remedies for cleaning, please share your thoughts.

  • markc says:

    As much as we talk about carbon footprints, we ignore what is likely to be a related and more pressing environmental issue for human health and survival – the availability of clean drinking water. As it stands, the chemicals we use for cleaning, protecting ourselves from the sun, killing pests, repelling insects, and various other things, all end up in the water, and flow downstream to municipal water intakes, where treatment plants for drinking water production aren’t designed to remove them from the water. As a result, many communities (particularly more downstream – whose water is made up of a significant proportion of treated wastewater from communities upstream) can have small concentrations of various chemicals from all sorts of products we use in water. This should be a real concern, as researchers are finding that water that leaves our wastewater treatment plants causes cancer, disease, and feminization of fish and other aquatic organisms in our streams and rivers. We’re talking about concentrations that are much lower than any “toxic” effects, because EPA testing and regulation is designed to prevent levels of substances that are capable of causing death, not those that cause various other detrimental health effects. The non-toxic negative health effects of many of the chemicals we use often act like very strong versions of the female steroid hormone Estrogen, and are suspected of having myriad effects on fish, wildlife, people, and entire ecosystems.

    So, from my perspective, the take-home message from all this is that we should all try to be more conscious of both what we put and use in our water, where our own water comes from and what is going on upstream, and how our water is treated before it comes to our taps.

  • markc says:

    Incidentally, the most effective basin, tub, and tile cleaner I’ve found is the eco-friendly one sold by Seventh Generation, which is a company that puts out a lot of ecofriendly cleaning products that are highly effective that are sold at most grocery stores.

  • wayne says:


    I really appreciate your comments. You are right on about the fragility of our water supplies. We need to do any and all that we can to make sure we preserve clean water for future generations. Thanks for your cares and concerns. We would love you to get more involved with here at IOE as we try to do a little to help preserve air, water and soil. Thanks again,

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