December 31, 2016 5 Comments
Photographs by Nicholas Efran.
It’s time for New Year’s resolutions! There are many ways you could change your habits to reduce your environmental impact. One change you could make is replacing cleansers that harm the environment with cleaning products or cleaning methods that are safer for your family as well as the wider world.
What’s wrong with conventional cleaning products?
- Some of them contain chemicals that, after they are rinsed down the drain, cannot be removed by sewage-treatment processes and contaminate the water supply, poisoning wildlife or causing over-growth of water plants so that waterways become clogged with dead plants.
- Some contain chemicals that contaminate household air, causing or worsening lung problems.
- Some cause cancer or disrupt our bodies’ hormones, leading to infertility, birth defects, and premature puberty.
- Some are neurotoxins that can cause headaches or damage children’s brain development.
These health risks don’t affect only people who are in direct contact with the cleanser; many cleansers leave a residue on the surface or in the air that can be absorbed through our skin and/or lungs, and some of these chemicals are bioaccumulative–our bodies can’t get rid of them, so over time our repeated exposures can build up to toxic levels.
Here’s our complete guide to cleaning a typical Earth dwelling. We’ve tried many environmentally-friendly products over the past 20 years and have found more good ones than duds. Here, we recommend some brand-name products that work especially well and some inexpensive basic materials that are great for various cleaning projects. Yes, it is possible to make more homemade cleaning products than we do. We’ve struck a balance between purchased and homemade products that works well with our cleaning habits and the amount of spare time we have. If you use an awesome homemade cleanser, feel free to share details or a link in the comments!
For basic home cleaning, you will need:
- dish detergent
- laundry detergent
- white vinegar
- baking soda
- hydrogen peroxide
- toilet bowl cleaner
- all-purpose cleaner
Other items we use regularly that you may or may not need, depending on your home furnishings and cleaning standards, are:
- dishwasher detergent
- hardwood floor cleaner
- furniture polish
- antibacterial spray
- rubbing alcohol
Look for these items in your local stores where you shop regularly. If you can’t find them there, encourage your stores to make them available; meanwhile, order online. Many of the brand-name products are available from Grove Collaborative–click here for a $10 discount on your first order! Here is more information about Grove (formerly known as ePantry).
Here are the details on how to use each type of cleanser. Read more of this post