Quick tips for eco-friendly cleaning and cleaners

Household cleaning and laundry products contain a huge array of synthetic chemicals, some that harm both humans and the environment. When shopping for products to clean your home, keep this practical information in mind to help you make more eco-friendly choices.

Quick tips for eco-friendly cleaning and cleaners

A few eco-friendly cleaners

When you're shopping for cleaners, keep an eye out for these eco-friendly options to help you choose cleaners that will have less of an impact on the people around them and the environment.

  • All-purpose cleaners: Try to buy fewer cleaning products. One simple eco-friendly, all-purpose cleaner, whether home-made or a commercial product, is really all you need to do the vast majority of household cleaning jobs.
  • Phosphate-free detergents: Choose unperfumed, phosphate-free or low-phosphate laundry powders and liquids.
  • Biodegradable products: Try to use only products that are 80 to 100 per cent biodegradable and free from phosphates, petrochemicals, optical brighteners (or fluorescers), enzymes, chlorine and caustic soda.
  • Products with warnings: Many products do not carry a full list of ingredients, but anything hazardous or poisonous must be clearly labelled — it's the law. Avoid products that carry such warnings. If they're toxic enough to poison or burn you, they're best left on the shelf. (The exception to this rule is borax: though poisonous if ingested in large amounts, it still has a valuable place in a green cleaning kit.)
  • Eco-friendly labels: Look for labels that indicate that a product is eco-friendly, but read such labels critically – 'natural', 'organic' and 'biodegradable' are often used in very loose ways and may not mean much. For example, almost everything will break down (biodegrade) eventually; what makes something truly biodegradable is that it breaks down in a matter of weeks rather than decades!

Reduce excess packaging

Think about how the cleaning products you buy are packaged: can you get them in a larger size or in bulk? In a concentrated form? In a recycled container?

All of these are great ways to reduce the amount of packaging rather than product that you buy.

Be wary of ironing aids

  • An ironing aid is likely to contain: corn starch to give the fabric body, silicone to stop the iron sticking to the fabric, borax to stabilise the starch, and fabric softener, preservatives and fragrance.
  • Some ironing aids may also contain acetic acid, a mild irritant to the respiratory system.
  • Ironing aids in aerosol packs contain propellants such as hydrocarbons.
  • A cheap and safe alternative to ironing aids is to use a steam iron or iron over a damp cotton cloth placed on the fabric.
  • For a badly creased cotton or linen item, sprinkle the garment with warm water, roll it up and put it aside for an hour or so before you iron it.

Remember these quick tips to help you find eco-friendly cleaners and to help make your cleaning more eco-friendly.

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