As a housekeeper, mother and pet owner, the argument over whether natural cleaning products are as effective as chemical based products is something that I have struggled with over the years. Are traditional cleaning methods and products really as bad as some may say? If you go back hundreds of years when there was no ‘Mr Muscle’ – people made do with what they had. We all know this, yet some are still sceptical as to whether natural ingredients can really clean as efficiently as chemical based products.
Cleaning products are used everywhere. House cleaning, office cleaning . . . even in our cars! The majority of conventional cleaning products that were used in the late 80’s were petroleum-based, which obviously had health and environmental implications. Instead of choosing industrial strength cleaning products that conquer everything in their path, there are a whole host of natural products that you can make yourself or purchase from a shop. These products keep your home or office clean and smelling fresh without the toxic side effects!
There was a time when I defined clean by how the air smelled. ‘It’s not clean until I can smell the chemicals!’ Thankfully this is no longer the standard by which I measure hygiene. In fact, I now do all I can to avoid using those poisonous chemicals as I believe they could potentially be harmful to our families health as well as detrimental to the environment.
There are over 17,000 petrochemicals available for us in the home. Unbelievably, only 30% of these have been tested for exposure to human health and to the environment! Therefore we actually have no idea what these goods are doing to our health and yet I’m sure very few of us wear a surgical mask when we’re cleaning! Who knows what we’re breathing in or what it is doing to us?
The industrial cleaning industry uses over £5million worth of chemicals every year. 23 gallons of chemicals on average are used by professional cleaners alone each year and 25% of those gallons are harmful.
The benefits of making your own green cleaners are endless. You’ll more than likely have most of the ingredients you need already in your cupboards and you’ll also save money by not having to buy an expensive array of products, all of which are targeted to only clean one type of area or surface in your home.
You might think that my first point of comparison between green cleaning and chemical cleaning would be the environmental aspect. Of course this is a crucial element. However, there are a number of other reasons that eco-friendly cleaning wins over using chemicals to clean your home.
Health and Safety
A lot of household and commercial cleaning chemicals are labelled as an irritant or as hazardous. We’re advised to wear gloves and a surgical mask when using them and to only use the products in a well-ventilated area so they’re not inhaled. Does this now scream ‘toxic!’ at you?
I, myself, really struggle with the pungent smell of chemical cleaners. They often get to back of my throat and cause me to cough and splutter. I always have the windows and doors open or I can feel the products on my lungs when I breathe – it feels awful.
Most of us are drawn to a particular cleaner because of its ‘cleaning power’ or the delicious smell that it promises to deliver. Nobody wants their house to smell like a dental surgery! Yet the products we use often have a synthetic fragrance created by a chemical rather than a natural smell.
Many people suffer from allergies that can be worsened by reactions to chemicals used around the home. My daughter used to suffer from a terrible cold every time I dusted, but since I started using natural products – such as vinegar and lavender – her allergies have died down and I am finally able to dust freely!
As I mentioned, a number of the key ingredients for natural cleaning you’ve probably already got in your kitchen cupboard. Have a look! Lemon juice, baking soda and white vinegar are all common ingredients used in green cleaning. These items are cheap to buy and can also be used in cooking as well as cleaning so they’re multi-taskers! If you want to add a splash of fragrance, use a small dose of essential oils. You need such a small amount in the preparation that the cost works out extremely low and you can change the scent whenever you feel like it!
I use a lot of micro fibre cloths because the different fibres in the cloths break up the dirt and retain it. They can also be used alone or with water and soap or anything really! It’s said that ‘the average UK household spends £109 a year on cleaning materials.’ Whereas these micro fibre cloths are machine washable so they can last years – bringing the cost of cleaning down even more!
In my opinion, natural products clean just as well (if not better) than chemical cleaning products! The phrase on everyone’s lips at the moment is ‘climate change’. If ordinary cleaning products are contributing to climate change then how can it not be imperative to use environmentally friendly cleaning products? And if there is an environmentally friendly alternative to cleaning that is viable, cheap and efficient then why not use it?