Monday, April 15, 2013

Greening Your Spring Cleaning Routine

The Climate Crusader is enlisting her daughter to help her clean this spring, and she wants to keep it green.

Recently, my eight-year-old daughter asked me if we could do some spring cleaning. I have spent enough time in the parenting trenches to know that when your kid's enthusiastic about cleaning, you capitalize on it, you don't ask questions. I told her that of course we could. But this raises the question of what we should be cleaning with.

As a self-proclaimed green mom, it's important to me that I don't expose my family to toxic cleaners. While it's possible to buy less-toxic, more sustainable cleaning agents, the truth is that these are often very expensive (and, sadly, sometimes not as effective as their conventional cousins). Many people who are seeking to live more sustainably opt for a third option - making their own cleaners.

A quick internet search for "green cleaning agents" will give you lots of information. Here are a few of my favourite resources:
Trying to replace all of your favourite cleaners at once is a little bit intimidating. The good news is that you don't have to. As you finish a bottle, box or tube, replace it with something less toxic and more sustainable. This is an easy (and affordable) way to reduce your family's exposure to toxins that can cause a host of problems. This way, if you're lucky enough to have a child volunteer to help, you don't have to be afraid that your little one is getting a dose of respiratory irritants and suspected carcinogens as they clean.

If making your own feels like too much work, here are a few things to look for on the bottle to help you make a greener choice:
  • Make sure that all ingredients are listed. If they're not, the manufacturer may be hiding something.
  • For the ingredients that are listed, less is more. A whole lot of long, hard-to-pronounce chemical names on the label isn't a good sign that what's inside is safe.
  • Opt for fragrance-free. "Fragrance" or "parfum" on an ingredient listing is a catch-all phrase that may include harmful chemicals such as phthalates.
  • If you choose a scented product, make sure that the label explains exactly what's in the scent.
  • Look for third party certifications to back up green claims. These third party certifications aren't guarantees but they do provide some reassurance that the product has met specific criteria.
If you're looking for me, I'll be manning the vacuum cleaner. In the meantime, what are your green spring cleaning tips?

1 comment:

Leanne said...

Hi there. I've been lurking here for a long time, and your post today inspired me to finally comment. You are so right about most cleaners being VERY toxic. All who read this should never waste money on pre-made cleaners again :) I clean apartments for pay. I'm talking about apartments where the renters did not get their deposit back because they left it too dirty. We are talking filth like your house has never seen! I go into these apartments armed with nothing more than baking soda, borax, white vinegar, and dish soap. I make the cleaners on the fly as I go, it's soo soo easy. Please, don't anyone put off this important change because you think it will be complicated; It's not!

Do as Amber suggested, and replace cleaners as you use them up, or better yet, stop using them today, and try the natural approach next time you clean. After you see how easy it is, you can give your toxic cleaners to someone who is not ready to change. That way you are helping in a small way for less of the toxic stuff from being made.

Safe cleaning everyone!



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