A clean and hygienic space is important to most of us. But did you know that lots of the cleaning products that we use to achieve this contain toxic and harmful contents, which can have a negative impact on the environment and our bodies?
😬 Even after passing through water treatment plants, small quantities of chemical compounds from cleaning products can find their way into rivers, ponds and lakes, impacting aquatic life and polluting the water. Some even make their way into the food chain.
😬 Some chemical compounds can accelerate plant growth, which can lead to dense vegetation that interferes with animal life and eventually decays in massive quantities.
😬 Cleaning chemicals that contain volatile organic compounds can degrade interior air quality and contribute to outdoor smog. VOC's also have a detrimental effect on ground-level ozone levels.
😬 Many containers are not made of recyclable materials, which ends up as waste. Mass-produced products from a large manufacturer that have to travel will also impact the environment through their transit.
There is no simple method to eliminate all of this, but there are steps you can take to reduce it. To help you get started, we've shared our top eco cleaning tips that will help you to keep your home sparkling clean, without the negative impact on the environment.
1. Replace Chemicals with Natural Alternatives
Our first tip is to replace all chemical-filled products with natural alternatives.
Green products tend to be biodegradable, non-toxic, low in volatile organic compounds, and produced with less energy and more sustainable materials than standard cleaning products. Locally sourced and homemade products will also have a substantially reduced impact.
If you miss the sensation of a spray bottle, invest in a multipurpose, empty glass spray bottle and mix up your citric + water or bleach + water solutions in it — this will make it much easier to distribute too. You can also switch to an eco-friendly concentrated cleaner or a refill stick. Just add water to both, and you've got 500ml of powerful, but non-toxic, cleaning product.
The advantage with using concentrated cleaning products too is that you save carbon emissions from transporting heavy water-based products.
There are loads of alternatives for just about all types of cleaning products — even for the areas you wouldn't think possible! For your kettle, there are natural kettle cleaning tablets. For your toilet, you can switch to toilet bombs. If you can name it, it can be cleaned with an eco alternative.
Ocean Saver have even made cleaner refill drops for almost all the types of cleaner you could need — natural anti-bac, kitchen degreaser, bathroom and glass cleaner are just a few! You never need to purchase harmful cleaning products again.
Outside of cleaning your space, you can also clean your dishes with eco alternatives. Our zero-waste washing up bars are the simplest solution to clean dishes without plastic — simply rub a sponge, scourer or brush into the bar and wash up as normal.
You can even transform these washing up bars to liquid soap: just scrape off some flakes from your bar and add to boiling water for it to dissolve.
2. Switch To Plastic-Free Cleaning Tools
Seek out plastic-free cleaning tools next.
You should also keep hold of your used toothbrushes and repurpose them into cleaning tools — they are great at getting into the nooks and crannies of your tiles and appliances!
3. Invest in Sustainable Laundry Products
Invest in natural and sustainable laundry products. From gentle soap nuts to detergent sheets, these vegan and biodegradable products have been formulated to contain ingredients with the lowest possible environmental impact.
The clothes we wash and wear each week might seem unconnected to the plastic pollution crisis but, with each wash, "synthetic fabrics shed thousands of plastic particles, leading to broad-scale contamination of waterways." Choosing natural materials like cotton or linen over polyester can help minimise this.
As for tough stains, these can still be tackled with eco alternatives.
Yellowing fabrics, such as pillow cases, can be transformed with a simple lemon juice and citric acid solution (3tbsp added to 600ml hot water). Add with salt, leave to soak, peg them outside – and the sun will bleach them.
If, like us, you live in an often dull Wales, you can use natural bleach to brighten and remove stains from clothes instead.
We'd also advise you use a low-water washing machine and avoid dry cleaning where possible.
4. Use Biodegradable Bin Bags
Dispose of the waste you can't avoid without adding to it with biodegradable bin bags.
While traditional bin bags are made of single-use plastic, these bags are home compostable and made from corn starch, giving you peace of mind they won't cause harm if they do find their way into nature.
And that's it! Our top eco-friendly cleaning tips to help you take the steps towards a more sustainable and plastic-free home.
For more advice on going no or low plastic, check out our 'How to Reduce Plastic Waste in the Office' post.
We are Authentic House, an online plastic free shop based in Wales, helping you create a more eco-friendly home. We support small, ethical businesses like us wherever we can, and we work closely with makers to create our own products. All the products you'll find in our shop or boxes are plastic free or minimal. We source recycled and easily recyclable packaging for our products, and plant a tree for every order. Find out more here.