Over the years our views on household cleaning products have changed. It used to be accepted that cleaners using toxic ingredients and harsh chemicals were the only way to get grime off of toilets, kitchen counters, and floors. These were also the only things that could clean your laundry and wash your dishes to give them that shiny and fresh clean scent. After all, there were no other options. Natural cleaning products just didn’t quite seem to do the trick and tended to leave you home with a less than fresh smell. However, with new reports from the EPA and National Geographic, many are beginning to realize that this however, is not the case. Over the past several years there has been a dramatic rise in number of people looking towards natural oils and substances such as citrus oil, vinegar, beeswax, cleaning salt, coconut oil, baking soda, lavender and rosemary to remove grime and bacteria from their home. Companies such as Mrs. Meyers, Dr. Bronner’s, Method, Eco Nuts, Molly’s Suds, Laundress, Eco-Me, and many others are using these natural substances to create effortless cleaning products that don’t require time and effort to make yourself (and clean equally as well as those traditional cleaners. Many of these products are not only better for your health and safe to use around kids and pets, but they’re also environmentally friendly. Below are 6 reasons why people have begun to make the switch, including us here at Northwest Portland Hostel & Guesthouse.
1. Chemicals May be Unregulated
Many cleaning products include chemicals that emit fumes that are not safe for humans and animals. Since the mid 20th century, 85,000 new chemicals have entered the market through various products, many of which after not being approved by the EPA. This number is a bit concerning and there’s more. More than 70 percent of traditional cleaning products used in homes contain these harmful chemicals.
2. Phthalates, Sodium Hydroxide & Ammonia
Have you ever checked the labels of cleaning products under your sink? Oftentimes a label will warn that a product can be harmful to people or pets, which is a major reason to not have the product in your home. Some potentially harmful chemicals you want to watch out for when researching cleaning products include phtalates (in fragranced products), triclosan (in liquid dishwashing detergent), 2-Butoxyethanol (in multi-purpose cleaners) and even chlorine (in laundry whiteners and toilet bowl cleaners).
3. Keep Kids Safe(r)
We can’t protect our kids from all the evil in the world, but we can limit their access to harmful chemicals. Using natural cleaning products will reduce the chance of an accidental poisoning. In fact, it’s shown that household cleaning products rank within the top 5 causes of childhood poisoning cases. So in addition to switching over to green cleaning products, be sure to keep the products stored in child-safe cabinets.
4. You May Be Poisoning the Water Supply
Various household cleaning agents can contain toxic chemicals like ammonia, phosphorus, alkyphenol ethoxylates and petroleum. So when you wash your clothes, do the dishes and even flush toilet bowl cleaner you may be sending these chemicals back into the water system and nearby rivers, lakes and streams. This could make its way back into your water, but it can also have a negative impact on wildlife and the environment.
5. Breathe Deep. Breathe Clean.
While they help make your clothes and rooms smell better, some fabric softeners and antibacterial spray cleaners contain quaternary ammonium compounds (a.k.a. quats), like benzalkonium chloride. These agents have been known to contribute to otherwise healthy people getting asthma. In fact, according to the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, about 53 percent of cleaning products they tested contain ingredients that can harm the lungs while 22 percent can cause asthma.
6. Green Products Help Keep the Air Greener
Many household products, especially sprays and aerosols, can contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can have short- and long-term health effects associated with your central nervous system, liver and kidneys. When you use a spray, the chemicals can linger in the air long after the initial mist dissipates.
When choosing green cleaning products for your facility, we recommend that you choose the products that meet the standards of the following organizations:
www.EcoLogo.org and www.GreenSeal.org
You can also check out www.ecoconceptsusa.com for additional information on certification organizations, product lines and criteria for environmentally safe products, services and practices.
So before you travel, do some research! Is the hotel or hostel you’re staying at use safe and environmentally friendly cleaners to clean the space that you will be staying in?
Abe’s Market: 6 Reasons to Use Green Cleaning Products in Your Home
The Daily Green: What Toxic Chemicals Lurk in Your Household Products?
Experience Life: 8 Hidden Toxins: What’s Lurking in Your Cleaning Products?
National Geographic’s Green Living: How Does Household Cleaner Affect the Environment?
EWG: Guide to Healthy Cleaning
ABC News: Household Cleaning Products Still Pose Risk to Kids
EPA: Introduction to Indoor Air Quality