We’re in full-on spring cleaning mode on the blog, and today, being Earth Day, I wanted to talk about the benefits of using eco-friendly cleaning products in your home.
The fresh scents and colors of nature in springtime serve as inspiration for me in my design and in creating homes that are sustainable for people and for the planet. In my home, I love using essential oils to bring natural scents and calm to spaces, and cleaning without harmful chemicals benefits us and the environment!
If you’ve been thinking about switching to eco-friendly cleaning products, or are curious about using aromatherapy in your cleaning routine, now’s the perfect time to start! Read on for a guide to greening your home cleaning to improve your health and the health of the planet.
Benefits of Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
In this post I talked about the harmful chemicals found in traditional cleaning products. (Make sure you check out the post for a list of potentially toxic household products.) The main culprits are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and petrochemicals, by-products of the oil industry. These chemicals have been linked to health problems such as allergies, asthma, ulcers, and certain cancers.
Using eco-friendly cleaning products in your home reduces your risk of chronic health issues and helps the planet.
Here are just a few of the benefits.
Improves Indoor Air Quality
Using natural ingredients in cleaning products ensures your indoor air quality is free from chemicals that exacerbate asthma and allergies. Conventional cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that can irritate your eyes and your respiratory system. In fact, indoor air quality can be 2-5 times worse than outdoor air because of the chemicals used in cleaning products.
Eco-friendly cleaning products don’t contain volatile organic compounds. The ingredients are gentle and the scents are safe to inhale.
Gentle on Surfaces
Green cleaners won’t degrade stainless steel, ceramic, and other surfaces like conventional cleaners do. The same chemicals that can cause skin, eye, and respiratory irritation can be too harsh for your appliances, countertops, and sinks.
Better For the Environment
Finally, using green cleaning products is good for the environment! Natural ingredients will biodegrade, meaning they break down into water and other harmless substances.
Toxic chemicals can end up polluting waterways after they’re poured down drains. This can harm wildlife and even end up back in our drinking water. Using aerosols contributes to greenhouse gases and ozone depletion which impacts climate change. Finally, eco-friendly cleaning products often come packaged in biodegradable or recyclable materials, which reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills.
And if you make your own cleaners, you have virtually no packaging to throw away!
DIY Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
These simple formulas are safe, nontoxic, and good for the environment! Plus you can easily find the ingredients in any grocery store.
- Windows and glass: use a combination of one part distilled vinegar to ten parts water in a spray bottle for an easy DIY cleaner.
- Countertops: you can use the same vinegar/water combination, or mix a few drops of biodegradable dish soap with hot water and scrub with a washcloth or sponge.
- Stainless steel: scrubbing stainless steel with a mix of baking soda with just a touch of water yields excellent results. Here are some commercially formulated options, if you prefer. Keep in mind that while these products are non-toxic, they still come in plastic bottles that are difficult to recycle.
- Kitchen sink: use baking soda and a little water to scrub down your kitchen sink.
- Tub and tile: use a baking soda and water mix to scrub away soap scum. Wipe down with a damp cloth to remove any baking soda residue.
- Toilet bowl: you may want something stronger to sanitize your toilet bowls. Look for chlorine-free bleach or hydrogen peroxide, which are less toxic than regular bleach, but still sanitize.
- Wood floors: mix ½ cup distilled white vinegar and a few drops of castile soap with a gallon of warm water for an effective, non-toxic floor cleaner.
- Air fresheners: in place of toxic air fresheners try a few drops of essential oil in a diffuser.
Note! Although these products are non-toxic, you should be mindful not to mix certain ingredients together. For example, mixing vinegar and baking soda will cancel out their effectiveness. And if you do use bleach in your home, it should never be mixed with anything but water.
If you prefer to buy your cleaning products, look for companies who use only natural, biodegradable ingredients in reusable or recyclable packaging. Blueland is a good option that makes safe, non-toxic dish soap and detergents with reusable bottles. I am also a fan of Grove Collaborative. I signed up for the subscription a few years back, and now just order on a occasion. They have more than just cleaners. You can find everything from recycled plastic garbage bags t0 pet grooming supplies on their site.
Add Aromatherapy for a Mental Health Boost
If you want an extra boost your mood while you clean, I can’t recommend aromatherapy enough. What is aromatherapy? It’s the use of oils derived from natural plant sources to promote health and well-being.
The Benefits of Aromatherapy
Essential oils have proven mental health benefits, and perfume your home with a gentle, fresh scent.
They’re the perfect addition to your green spring cleaning routine.
Essential Oils are Natural Disinfectants
Most essentials oils used in aromatherapy have powerful cleaning properties. Researchers have demonstrated that essential oils can be effective in killing common household germs. And as the FDA has advised against antibacterial soaps, you can add a few drops of essential oil to your hand soap instead.
Essential Oils Contain All-Natural Ingredients
Scented cleaning products can contain VOCs from synthetic chemicals. When you use essential oils, you’re using a biodegradable product derived from plants. No harmful chemicals or additives. Healthy for you, and healthy for the planet.
And the oil is potent! Just a few drops in your all purpose cleaner will do.
Essential Oils Improve Your Mood
There’s a world of aromatherapy just waiting for you to explore, and you can choose scents based on what kind of boost you need.
Want a burst of energy? Add a zesty citrus oil to your cleaner? Want to relax before bed? Calming lavender or clary sage will do the trick.
A note of caution to pet owners! Some essential oils are not pet-friendly! Please do some research before you choose a potentially harmful oil. I’ve noted which of the oils below are pet-safe.
5 Essential Oils to Boost Your Mood and Perfume Your Home
Dive into the world of aromatherapy, and you may be quickly overwhelmed by your choices. Here I’ve provided a few choices to get you started.
- Lemon essential oil: used to cut grease, remove sticky residue, and deodorize. It has an energizing scent perfect for a pick-me-up. Lemon oil is not pet-friendly.
- Lavender essential oil: used as a disinfectant, linen spray, and to prevent mold and mildew. It has a gentle, calming scent and it’s pet-friendly.
- Sweet orange essential oil: used as a degreaser, disinfectant, and all purpose cleaning. Sweet orange has a zesty scent and is not pet-friendly.
- Peppermint essential oil: used to disinfect and repel insects. Peppermint has a revitalizing scent and is pet-friendly.
- Clary sage essential oil: used as an all purpose cleaner and disinfectant. Clary sage has a gentle, soothing scent perfect when you’re in need of some calm. It’s also pet-friendly.
How to Use Aromatherapy For Spring Cleaning
Using essential oils for eco-friendly cleaning couldn’t be easier.
Simply add about 10 drops of your chosen essential oil to any of the above cleaning mixtures. The vinegar smell will quickly fade, leaving a fresh clean scent.
I hope you’ve found this eco-friendly cleaning guide helpful! Now that your home is organized, clean, and smells wonderful, commit to keeping it that way. Take a few minutes every day to wipe down surfaces, tidy main areas, and spritz some aromatherapy in your rooms.
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