What’s in the cleaning products you use every day and are they harming you and the planet? Find out how you can easily protect your family and the planet by switching your products!
By the way – I’ve not been paid to talk about any of these products. This is just something that I think is really important.
I totally don’t blame you if reading all about cleaning sounds super boring and your mouse is already headed towards the little red x up there… but I have this weird geeky thing about finding new cleaning products, and talking about which ones really work!
This particular train of thought all started when I was doing a bit of washing up one day and noticed a new (I think?) and very sinister sentence on the back of my bottle of Fairy (pomegranate scented). It said:
“Harmful to aquatic life with long-lasting effects.”
Now, I’m not the greenest person in the world at all. I do cycle to work, recycle everything and have an ever growing collection of reusable bags (seriously, are they breeding in my under stairs cupboard?!).
BUT I’ve never chained myself to any trees and I probably shop for new clothes and homewares far too much (though I do donate the old stuff which is kind of recycling, right?).
I’m just now realising that maybe that kind of all or nothing thinking is wrong. We all have a right to care about stuff even if we’re not 100% perfect.
And I do care. Seeing this little sentence on the back of the bottle upset me. Just by doing something innocent like the washing-up, I’m doing damage to rivers and oceans, to animals and potentially my own health? What a horrible thought. 🙁
It’s pretty grim reading, right?
Oh, and even though I don’t have kids yet – the thought of all those harmful chemicals being used on floors and surfaces, especially around little’uns, is pretty scary. There’s evidence that these products are damaging our health in ways we haven’t even begun to understand yet, (though we think that the massive upswing in cases of allergies and asthma are related) and one of the recommendations to reduce your cancer risk is even to switch to non-toxic household cleaners.
Even if we don’t yet know for sure the impact of the 80,000 new household chemicals we’ve started using in the last 100 years, why take the risk with your families health, right?
(another benefit of switching away from mainstream brands like Persil/Fairy etc is that most environmentally friendly brands DON’T test on animals or contain animal products!)
So what should we do about it?
Good news, there’s an easy solution! Switch to an eco-friendly washing up liquid. They are slightly more expensive (we’re talking pennies), but I think it’s well worth it.
At the moment I’m using this one, by Bio-D, which is rated as the least bad for the environment (fyi – persil is rated the worst) – I picked up a bottle for £2 from Oxfam which lasts for about seventy washing up sessions.
You can also try products from Ecover, Method and others. Asda have an own brand, great value range of environmentally friendly products called Planet Clean, which includes washing up liquid and dishwasher tablets.
Voting with your ££ will also send the message that we want more environmentally friendly options so that they become even more available and cheaper in the supermarket.
What about other cleaning products?
Since my fairy revelation, I’ve also switched to eco-friendly dishwasher tablets, fabric softener, laundry detergent and bathroom cleaning products. I’ve realised that any chemicals that go down the plughole will eventually make their way into the ocean and so I’m trying to minimise my part in that.
Two brands – Ecover and Method, are easily available at most supermarkets, and they’re the best option for you to pick up during your weekly shop. The Method french lavendar cleaning spray smells lovely and works just as well as any chemical-packed product I’ve ever used, and the Ecover products I’ve tried have been great too.
If you can make it to an oxfam store or buy online in bulk to save money, Bio-D is the best choice for dishwasher powder, detergent, cleaning spray, etc. You can compare the rating of different products on this site.
Make your own green cleaning products?
Our great-grandparents didn’t have a million and one artificial cleaning products to use in their homes, they cleaned using natural products like citrus oil, vinegar, beeswax, cleaning salt, coconut oil, baking soda and essential oils like lavender and rosemary.
I realise that I SOUND like I’ve gone fully hippie here, and making your own products may not work for you if you’re very busy, BUT it’s super easy to make your own green cleaning products, and it’s incredibly cheap too!
Links to how-tos:
- How to make your own kitchen cleaning spray (vinegar and essential oil)
- How to make homemade fabric softener (fyi – baking soda is bicarbonate soda)
- How to make homemade furniture polish
- How to make homemade floor cleaner
As well as switching some products, I’ve weaned myself off others. I’ve completely stopped using kitchen towel, and now I use reusable cloths or old teatowels where I’d previously reach for kitchen towel. That’s a big deal for me because I used SO MUCH kitchen towel – like two rolls a week!
I’ve also switched from polish spray to micofibre cloths, which do a great job of cleaning mirrors and picture frames without any products at all. My fave magic sponges are ones I pick up in Home and Bargains (similar to these), and they clean really tough stains in the kitchen, bathroom and elsewhere also without using any cleaning products. Bargain shops are full of these products if you just take a look!
You can use this website to look at the environmental impact of other products too, everything from cat food to flowers to green energy suppliers. It is totally overwhelming to think about all at once, but cleaning products are a great place to start and I hope it might inspire you to make small changes in other areas of your life too!