At Green Home Cleaning, we’ve been providing eco-friendly cleaning services to homes, offices, and vacation rentals around the Asheville area for thirteen years. We make our own cleaning solutions out of organic, non-toxic ingredients, and we encourage our clients to maintain green environments between cleanings by using healthy alternatives to commercial cleaning products.
Most people know that chemical-laden cleaning products can harm the health of both humans and pets (in addition to disrupting ecosystems.) But many of us are not clear on the specifics. Exactly what negative health outcomes could result from the use of regular old spot cleaner or laundry detergent?
In this post, we’ll go over the worst offending cleaning products and suggest non-toxic, eco-friendly alternatives for each type.
Fabric Softeners: The fragrances used in fabric softeners usually contain phthalates—known endocrine disruptors that can damage your reproductive health. Be warned, most products containing phthalates will not list it as an ingredient on the label due to proprietary laws. Other ingredients found in fabric softeners can increase your risk for asthma and other respiratory disorders. For soft clothes, towels, and linens, try adding half a cup of white vinegar to each load of wash.
Window Cleaners: Most conventional window cleaning agents contain 2-butoxyethanol as a key ingredient. This harsh chemical can cause sore throats, narcosis, pulmonary edema, and even severe kidney and liver damage. Clean windows with diluted vinegar or cheap vodka instead.
Oven Cleaners: Sodium hydroxide, a cleaning compound found in commercial oven cleaners, can cause severe chemical burns to your skin on contact, as well as to the soft tissues of the throat and esophagus when inhaled. This can lead to a sore throat that can last up to several days. Instead, use baking soda paste and a little elbow grease to get your oven clean.
Air Fresheners: Phthalates strike again! The fragrances used in most air fresheners, like those in fabric softeners can trigger allergies and even cause adult onset asthma in otherwise healthy individuals. For a clean, green, healthy scent, use essential oils instead. Lavender, peppermint, and lemon oils are great and not too expensive!
Spot Cleaners and Carpet Cleaners: These cleaning products are basically made out of neurotoxin. Perchloroethylene—or “PERC” for short—is classified as a possible carcinogen by the EPA. Instead of toxic carpet cleaning solutions, hire a green carpet cleaning company to treat your carpets to a water-based cleaning. For laundry stains, try rubbing undiluted castile soap on the affected area prior to washing.
Bleach: We all know that chlorine can irritate your eyes and throat, but did you know it may also harm your thyroid function? Clean with vinegar, instead!
Ammonia: Ammonia acts as an irritant to eyes, nose, throat, and skin. And let’s face it: that stuff STINKS! Instead, use homemade vinegar-based solutions or clean with diluted antibacterial essential oils such as clove or lemon.