Eco Cleaning

Cleaning. Washing. Keeping our homes tidy… Boring and humdrum, right?

Most of us don’t put a lot of thought into our household chores. We just want to get them done! But actually, the products and methods we use can cause serious damage to the environment if we don’t stop and think.

Warning! Flammable! Toxic!

Products with labels like these cause the biggest issues. Many of the chemicals found in these conventional products are carcinogens, neurotoxins, mutagens, teratogens, or endocrine disrupters. Put simply, this means they are bad for our health and for our natural environment. Chelmsford deserves better.

How do my household cleaning products harm the environment?

When we use non-eco-friendly products to clean things like our toilets, cookware or clothes, the chemical based products used end up heading down our drains. Even if we use them on a cloth to clean counters, worktops and so on, the cloth eventually gets washed or rinsed and the chemicals enter the water system.

They pass through the drains to waste water treatment facilities. Here, most of the harmful chemicals are removed or neutralised before the water can then re-enter our lakes and rivers. Unfortunately, the process isn’t perfect. Often, some chemicals stay in the water. Over time, they build up and harm local wildlife. Animal populations drop because of the high levels of toxicity in their habitats and the environment surrounding the rivers become polluted.

river pollution due to toxic cleaning products

So what do I do? Not clean?

You can keep your home and the planet clean. There is a solution for green living: eco-cleaning products.

An eco-cleaning product is a naturally derived, non-toxic product that contains only biodegradable ingredients and is sustainably manufactured. Eco-cleaning products contain eco-friendly ingredients which work just as well as a non-eco-friendly cleanser, just without harming the environment.

By choosing products like these, you can help to reduce pollution in rivers and oceans. It’s also better for the air: products made from smog-producing chemicals damage the ozone layer and contribute to global climate change.

Green cleaning products are now available in most supermarkets and they’re about the same price as non-eco-friendly cleaners. Just look for product labels that include words like ‘eco, non-toxic or natural’ on them to begin making those boring chores part of a heroic effort to live more sustainably.

Did you know: Since 2013 the market for eco-friendly cleaning products has doubled, around 30% of UK households are now using green cleaning products.

Why not make your own?

If you wanted to go even further still you can make your own cleaning products using vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and castile soap. To make them smell nice, just add lemon juice or essential oils. This isn’t a new idea – bicarbonate of soda has been valued as an antibacterial cleanser since the 1920s!

You can create your own safe cleaning products in a jiffy:

  • Clean windows with vinegar and water for a streak-free finish.
  • Use a bit of bicarbonate of soda on a sponge for any surface you’d normally clean with a cream.
  • Clean up your hairbrushes by soaking them in 1 tsp of baking soda and 2 cups of warm water for an hour.
  • Pour half a cup of baking soda down the plughole of your kitchen sink, then follow it with two cups of vinegar: it will froth and dissolve any built-up grime.
eco-friendly home cleaning products

What else can I do?

Besides eco-friendly cleaning products, there are plenty of other changes you can try that will make a huge difference to how much pollution you produce:

  • Washing on cold – keep the temperature cold when you’re washing your clothes so no electricity is used to heat the water. Most of our power still comes from non-renewable sources, so this helps to reduce your carbon footprint. It saves you money on energy bills too!
  • Skip the tumble drier – tumble driers use lots of electricity. Try to hang as much clothing as you can out to dry – it smells better anyway!
  • Try ‘soapberries’ or ‘soap nuts’ – before the days of synthetic washing detergents, soap nuts were a sustainable way to clean clothes. Soap nuts grow on the Sapindus Genus tree. They’re a source of natural soap which cleans and freshens clothing. These are great if you have a real passion for being as eco-friendly as possible – or have sensitive skin.
  • Microplastic washing bags – most modern clothes have plastic woven into them (typically nylon or polyester). Which means that every time you wash them small fibres of the plastic break off in the wash. These are too small to be caught by normal filters, which means they end up in our rivers and seas. The fibres are eaten by fish and other sea creatures that we eat. This means they and we eat bits of toxic plastics on a regular basis – not healthy! You can get microplastic washing bags which catch plastics before they get into the food chain.
  • Eco-refills – Buying products that offer an eco-refill system means you only need to buy one spray/pump bottle and then larger refill packs. A lot less plastic waste, plus it saves you a lot of money as buying in bulk is always cheaper.
  • Alternative dishwasher and washing machine tablets – Several eco-friendly companies offer plastic-free tablets and some even provide regular postal deliveries so you never run out. Another option is an Eco-Egg that can be placed in your washing machine and lasts up to 720 washes.