When it comes to cleaning house, one trend has become more and more prominent over the years: the use of eco-friendly cleaning products. There are, of course, a number of reasons for this shift — from the perception of how chemical-laden products can harm both users and the environment, and the reaction to traditional forms of manufacturing, which use billions of pounds of chemicals a year.
While some studies show that up to two-thirds of the population are buying eco-friendly cleaning products, the Neilson Global Home-Care study showed more definitively that just under a third would search out eco-friendly cleaners, while around 24% were concerned with the other side of the conversation: how products are sustainably packaged for use.
Along with the boom in true eco-focused companies, however, is a corresponding boom in somewhat deceptive practices employed by companies. For Lauran Henderson, owner of EcoFreak Cleaning LLC, a company focused on “pure and thoughtful eco-cleaning and organizing in the Greenville area,” this is one of the primary challenges to selecting both products and services.
“Unfortunately, today you see a lot of companies ‘green washing,’ where a company deceives the buyer into thinking they are more environmentally sound than they actually are,” Henderson says. “I hate it because I see families think they are making good choices for their homes.”
To combat this, she suggests researching the cleaners to find something you are comfortable using in your home. Sometimes this may not mean you need a manufactured cleanser, but rather a new use for products you may already have.
For Jamie Gray, who runs her own Upstate housekeeping business and has offered eco-friendly cleanings to past customers, there are ways to incorporate common household items into a new routine. Vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda can be used to create effective cleansers, although you’ll want to do some research before combining them (some combinations, like vinegar and peroxide, can cause chemical reactions that are less than ideal). As a general rule, Gray says, any cleaning agent that requires a lot of ventilation should be a no-go.
“In my opinion, stay away from bleach and products that ‘take your breath away,’” she says. “You may not notice a difference if you use it once in a while in your own home, but for housekeepers who use it constantly, their lungs deteriorate using these chemicals every day in close proximity.”
For those wishing to find more eco-friendly and sustainable methods of cleaning, there are a number of tried-and-true options out there, Henderson notes. From castile soap like the popular Dr. Bronner’s line, to Thieves essential oils, there are natural cleaners that can do just as good a job — if not better — than other chemical-rich products.
“Unfortunately, today you see a lot of companies ‘green washing,’ where a company deceives the buyer into thinking they are more environmentally sound than they actually are.” – Lauran Henderson, owner, EcoFreak Cleaning LLC
For Henderson, whose favorite cleaner is a mix of Thieves oil, peroxide and castile soap mix, creating an environmentally friendly cleaning routine isn’t solely about the cleaners. Other tools can be used to power up the elbow grease, like pumice sticks, which are highly effective at removing hard water stains in sinks and toilets, as well as removing burnt-on water from glass stove tops; and microfiber cloths, which can be washed and reused over and over. And when considering the other angle of sustainability — product packaging — she has a few tips there, too.
“I tend to store my cleaners in amber glass bottles to preserve them best,” she says. As an added tip for those serious about making the shift, she adds, “Go get a caddy to store all your supplies, and it’ll make cleaning so much quicker.”