How to Be More Green When You Clean
Refresh your cleaning routine as well as your home this year with these eco-friendly cleaning ideas
Be mindful about the products you buy and look for environmentally aware brands to kick-start your green cleaning routine. Charlotte Salter of The UK Cleaning Products Industry Association (UKCPI) says, “Look for The Charter for Sustainable Cleaning logos, which are there to highlight products that have good sustainability profiles and come from manufacturers who are doing their bit.”
Several cleaning brands position themselves as eco-friendly and have gentler formulations aimed at reducing environmental impact. If your local store doesn’t stock them, you could try speaking to the manager or writing to head office to make the company aware there’s consumer interest.
When buying products, look for those that are in recyclable bottles and ensure you manage these correctly when you’ve finished with them.
Alternatively, choose brands that offer refills or track down a zero waste shop. These stores, which let you fill your own containers with cleaning products and household goods, are popping up across the country and offer a green and sustainable way to shop.
Not sure where your closest zero waste shop is? Look here to find one near you.
Choosing concentrated versions of cleaning products will also help you to reduce the amount of packaging you buy, as these often contain twice the amount of cleaning power in a regular-size bottle.
It’s easy to inadvertently use too much concentrated liquid, so always measure out the amount indicated on the bottle, rather than splashing it in haphazardly. Too much is wasteful, but equally, too little could mean poor results that need re-washing, undoing your good work.
A dream cleaning duo, bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar can supplement, or even take the place of, many conventional cleaning products, saving you cash as well as ridding your home of unnecessary chemicals.
Look for stockists that sell large bottles of each to cut down on cost and excess packaging, and have a browse online for cleaning tips – there are plenty of great ideas and tutorials out there.
Why every home needs this eco-friendly miracle cleaner.
Several commercial cleaning products are artificially fragranced with lemon, as citrus scents instantly make a room feel fresh. Using real lemon will impart an ever better scent and leave a much lighter chemical footprint.
From brightening laundry whites to cutting room odours and bringing glass and mirror to a sparkling finish, lemons will become an essential part of your cleaning kit.
Keen to test out this tip? Friends of the Earth have compiled a list of 38 household uses for lemons.
“Your really critical contribution comes when you’re actually doing the washing and cleaning,” Charlotte says. Using your dishwasher and washing machine in a smart way can reduce your energy bill and lessen their environmental impact.
Waiting until a machine is full before running it and setting it at a low temperature will both make a difference. “Turning the dial on your washing machine down to 30 degrees can save enough electricity in a year to make 2,500 cups of tea!” Charlotte says.
Need help decluttering and organising your home? Find a professional home storage designer or organiser near you.
Friends of the Earth flag up wet wipes as one of the top household plastic pollutants and advise replacing them with less disposable options or choosing biodegradable wipes instead.
Although many household cleaning wipes look like regular tissues, they often contain plastic, so aren’t recyclable or flushable and create a big problem when they end up in sewers, rivers and oceans.
Try replacing them with washable cotton cloths. Or, if you really need them now and again, look for biodegradable alternatives – and buy one large packet rather than lots of smaller ones to reduce the amount of plastic packaging you throw away.
Where possible, air drying your clothes rather than using a tumble dryer will save you money as well as reducing your impact on the planet. Running a tumble dryer uses a large amount of energy and if you can reduce your use, or do without one entirely, you’ll lower your energy consumption instantly.
Ceiling-mounted indoor airers, such as a laundry maid, seen here, are a great option if you don’t have access to a line outside and floor space is tight indoors.
Ventilation is key, however, especially in the winter, so make sure you keep a flow of air circulating when clothes are drying indoors to prevent condensation.
If you want to cut down on artificial fragrances and room sprays, invest in nature’s own air cleaners instead – houseplants.
Rather than try to cover up odours with plug-in diffusers and chemical air fresheners, houseplants, such as pretty Pilea peperomioides, seen here, will work around the clock to scrub toxins out of the air and freshen up your home naturally, creating a clean base from which to start.
If you still want to add a layer of scent, try natural oils, which will provide a shorter but gentler and less chemical-based burst of fragrance to greet you and your guests.
Discover the health benefits of houseplants.
What are your favourite green cleaning tips? Let us know in the Comments section.