We are all becoming savvier and environmentally conscious when it comes to our purchases, and a booming industry when it comes to changing to eco-friendly practices is the cleaning industry. Whether it’s industrial, home, or office cleaning, there is a definite shift towards cleaner and greener cleaning practices. Gone are decades past where it was commonplace to use strong, toxic and abrasive chemicals to clean our homes and businesses leaving behind a strong odour of bleach. Now, it’s a commonplace practice to have whole sections in commercial cleaning tenders dedicated to green cleaning, waste disposal and ethical cleaning practices and residents are starting to ask home cleaners and house maids to use natural and non-toxic products in their family homes.
Whether you are a cleaning business owner, a home cleaner or housemaid, how do you know which cleaning products are really green and natural? What is the truth about natural cleaning products, and how do you know you’re using the right ones for the safety of your customers and your own health?
We’re here to give bust the natural cleaning myths!
Natural doesn’t mean green
Ammonia and hydrogen peroxide are derived from a natural product, and both are incredibly harmful chemicals if misused. Being natural can still mean toxic. Natural is a very loose term when it comes to labelling and branding, so be wary of cheap cleaning products which have labels coloured green, maybe a blue earth printed and the word ‘natural’ placed obviously on the packaging. It could all be nothing more than a clever marketing ruse. Flip the packaging and look at the ingredients.
Look for botanical or plant-based cleaning products
Plant-based cleaning products are a safer bet when looking for truly natural cleaning products as they are non-toxic and non-abrasive. Plant-based cleaning sprays and chemicals are also a good choice for office environments or homes with children as these chemicals tend to be kinder on the skin and better for people with respiratory problems. Search out green publications or head for an online search of genuinely green cleaning products.
Don’t believe the marketing hype
This may take a little time to start with, as you will need to read the ingredients labels on your chosen cleaning products and understand what they all mean. But, once you’ve chosen your truly natural cleaning product, you’ll feel a sigh of relief and know precisely what to purchase. Words such as ‘eco-friendly’ or just ‘eco’ in the tag line don’t mean a genuinely green product and are often slapped on the packaging to lure you into buying. Also, avoid any product which says ‘biodegradable’. It’s pretty common to assume that biodegradable is an excellent thing. But, in fact, anything will biodegrade over time. Whether a product takes one year or 1,000 years to break down, it’s still technically biodegradable. Unfortunately, there is currently no stringent law on labelling, so it’s up to us as consumers to do a little research.
What should you believe when it comes to natural cleaning?
Phosphate-free is a good label to look for and tells you that a cleaning product is a truly green one. A high concentration of phosphates travelling down our sinks and headed out to our waterways cause extreme issues with algae which strangles our rivers and streams, severely damaging the fish and wildlife that live there. High phosphate detergents are already being phased out, so choosing phosphate-free directly reduces damage to your local waterway and is kinder to the planet.
If the labels look confusing, turn to a certified body who have done all the research and can provide you with a list of natural and green cleaning products which you can purchase without confusion and with confidence. Certifiers such as GECA in Australian and Green Seal in the United States are great places to seek out high-quality natural cleaning products.
There is a reason old cleaning products are still the best
People moving to an organic, sustainable way of life have gone back to using basic ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice, bicarbonate of soda, salt, essential oils and even humble newspaper. Yes, there is definitely more scrubbing, polishing and elbow grease needed to get the desired result, but there is a reason these products are still being used hundreds of years later. They work, they’re cheap, and they don’t harm the environment. These ingredients, however, are not suited to commercial cleaning for large scale businesses and general office cleaning, but for the home, there is a reason these ingredients are still lauded today.
Green cleaning doesn’t just mean chemicals
When you think about natural cleaning products, your mind may automatically leap to the cleaning chemicals and sprays you use, but there are other ways to clean in a natural way. Instead of using disposable wipes and paper towels, switch to microfibre cloths, which can be re-used and washed time and again. Old cotton shirts can also be cut up to make great polishing cloths which divert old clothing from landfill.
Natural cleaning products are not just saving the environment. They protect your kids too!
According to Poison.Org, children under six years old make up almost half of the reported poisoning cases in America, which is a worrying level. Making the swap to a natural, non-toxic cleaning product provides a safe, clean home for you and protects your family from accidental poisoning. But, as with all cleaning products, keep them stored up high and out of reach for little hands.
Cleaning products are developing all the time and innovation, and scientific study brings a greater understanding of the impact our consumerism has on the world. The cleaning industry is changing the way it operates to reduce emissions and toxic chemicals and delivering a sparkling clean in any building without irritants and damage.
Take a good look at your cleaning product labels, do a little research, and you too can make the switch to a truly natural cleaning product.