Why Use Green Cleaning Products? For Your Health!

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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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

 

8 Things You're Probably Forgetting to Clean

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"Out of sight, out of mind" goes the old proverb. This can be a good thing- like avoiding your ex when you are healing from the end of a relationship, or skipping the cookie aisle at the grocery store when you are trying to lose weight. Or, it can be a bad thing, like when your stack of work papers for the big deadline are hidden under a pile of junk mail.

In the context of a healthy home, there are many integral pieces that must, for various reasons, remain out of sight, but don't let that keep you from cleaning them. Here's a handy checklist of the eight most important things that need periodic or seasonal cleaning, that you are probably forgetting about. Print it out and hang it on your fridge or schedule a seasonal cleaning day in your calendar to address these sneaky "out of sight" tasks.

1. Your heating and air conditioning filters. In the off seasons, these could probably get by with just a vacuuming. But before the extreme temperatures kick in, be sure to replace the filters so that you and your family can breathe easy!

2. Your refrigerator coil. It can get pretty dusty back there! You want to pull out your fridge twice a year to clean all the fallen crumbs and morsels that can attract pests. While you're back there, clean the coil with a damp cloth (unplug the fridge first.) letting dust and cobwebs build up back there could pose a fire hazard. Bonus points if you clean the top of the fridge while you're at it!

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3. Your floor vents. Those floor vent covers let nice, warm air into your house in the winter, but they also let dirt, pet hair, and all kinds of grub in to your heating ducts. Vacuum these out at least four times a year. More if you have indoor pets. Your family's lungs will thank you!

4. Under the rugs. Another age old proverb! Even though you probably aren't "sweeping it under the rug", it can get dirty under there just from normal use. Twice a year (more if you have pets), roll up your area rugs and vacuum underneath.

5. Behind the toilet. If you're like most people, when you clean your toilet, you are probably only getting the bowl and the visible parts on the front and side of the column. The back of the toilet is nearly impossible to see, and kind of difficult to get to. But this is an area that should be cleaned regularly in order to prevent bacteria and odor buildup. Try doing it every second or third time you clean the bathroom, depending on how high-traffic the bathroom is.

6. The pantry. Two to three times a year, go through all of your pantry storage areas and throw out food that is past the expiration date. Then take everything out, dust the shelves or inside the cupboards, and reorganize the food. This is a good time to introduce airtight plastic containers for things like rice, pasta, oatmeal and other foodstuffs that attract pests. (Pro Tip: use square, stackable containers for more economical use of space.)

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7. The oven and range. At least twice a year, pull your oven out and clean the floor and walls around it. Take your drip pans out and scrub them (or replace if needed.) Clean the grease and dust that has probably collected on the hood, especially the parts you can't normally see. Finally, clean the inside of the oven.

8. Your kitchen cabinets. Spiders love to make their homes here. And dust can be a problem, as well. Twice a year or so, take all of the dishes, glasses and cookware out of your cabinets and vacuum. Then clean the shelves with a vinegar-water solution if necessary.


Hope this checklist helps you to keep your home clean, green and healthy! (Even the parts you don't see.)