Thoughtful Ways to Clean Your Home That Support the Environment
The holidays are almost here, so it’s time to get out the mop and broom, start to tidy up and begin clean your home for receiving guests. The question is, how will doing so impact your carbon footprint?
You might not often pause to reflect on how your cleaning choices impact the environment. However, everything from the cleansers you choose to your methods for disposing of rubbish affects the planet.
What choices should you make to minimize your impact while getting your home ship-shape for entertaining? Here are six thoughtful ways to clean your home that support the environment.
Invest in Microfiber Cloths
How many paper towels do you go through on a typical cleaning day? Using a roll or more, you burn through at least 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water to complete your chores. That’s not your most sustainable choice.
Forget the feather duster and opt for microfiber cloths that trap debris inside. While it’s fine to reuse old shirts as rags for other purposes, other fabrics can spread dirt around instead of removing it. Save the repurposed items for dipping into your bucket and wiping walls and cabinets or scrubbing at hard-to-remove spots.
Choose Sustainable Products
Some household cleaning products contain high levels of volatile organic compounds. Short-term exposure to VOCs can cause headaches, dizziness and nausea, while long-term use can increase your family’s cancer risk. VOCs also contribute to ozone depletion and add substantial particulate pollution to the air.
Therefore, your best bet is to shop for sustainable products low in VOCs. Here are some of the best brands to consider when making your choices:
- Dr. Bronner Biodegradable Cleanser: This brand also has a castile soap line that’s fabulous for washing up at the campsite or making DIY cleaners. It won’t harm the water supply.
- Bon Ami Powder Cleanser: A little elbow grease is sometimes the best cleaner of all, but this abrasive works on tough stains.
- Biokleen Bac-Out and Odor Remover: This product is perfect for the fur-baby crew who have the occasional accident.
- Krud Kutter Original Cleaner and Degreaser: It’s the safer way to clean your kitchen countertops without worrying about leaving residue.
Consider DIY Eco-Friendly Cleansers
Another option involves making DIY eco-friendly cleaning products. It’s not difficult and the best part is you can customize your creations with a few drops of essential oil, creating a signature scent for your home.
All you need are the right recipes to get you started. Here are a few to keep in your arsenal:
- All-purpose cleaner: Mix equal parts of distilled white vinegar and water. Add essential oils for fragrance unless you intend to use the mixture on glass — it can streak.
- Kitchen and bathroom scrubber: Mix ¼ cup of baking soda with a teaspoon of castile soap, like Dr. Bronner. Add distilled vinegar and stir until the mixture becomes white and creamy.
- Carpet refresher: Mix a few drops of your favorite essential oil with baking soda.
- Goo remover: Mix two parts Borax with one part water.
Maintain Your Indoor Air Quality
If your home smells musty, it can feel like it’s filthy even if you just vacuumed. Furthermore, neglecting to maintain your HVAC system blows more dust around your home. It could even make your family sick as germs and bacteria stick and recirculate. According to the folks at the Energy Department, you should change your filters every three months at a minimum, doing so more often if you have pets or smokers or frequently run your system.
Although not strictly a cleaning tip, you should also be careful what new furniture and other products you bring into your home if you want to protect the environment and lower indoor air pollution. Some furniture and small appliances like wastebaskets can emit VOCs — they come from solids and liquids. Look for models labeled low VOC to better protect your loved ones and create a more sustainable home.
An Ounce of Prevention
Every time you plug in the vacuum cleaner, it draws energy. It might not seem like much, but every bit of savings counts. Besides, who wants to spend all their spare time cleaning when a few simple preventative measures can keep the mess down in the first place?
Therefore, consider installing a shoe rack and having your family and guests take off their shoes before entering your home. Doing so will considerably reduce your carpet cleaning needs while keeping crawling babies safe from germs dragged in from the outdoors. Stow a stash of booties or slippers nearby for those who balk at walking around in their socks or barefoot.
Sippy cups aren’t only for toddlers. If you’re a little bit too fond of Merlot, yes, you can find lidded wine glasses to protect your white upholstery from the occasional tipsy accident.
Finally, you can support the environment while cleaning your home each time you go through your closet. upcycling is a glorious way to bring new life to old things. For example, the holey T-shirt you plan to toss could become your toddler’s artist’s smock or cleaning rags. If you’re a bit more dextrous, why not stitch a new dog toy, perhaps using other discarded shirts for stuffing?
Fabric isn’t the only thing you can upcycle. Old toothbrushes are fantastic for making your grout sparkle. Got a stack of old newspapers? The gritty texture cuts through dirt and the absorbency won’t leave you dripping when washing windows or mirrors.
Clean Your Home and Support the Environment
Busy entertainers everywhere have begun sprucing up their homes for the holidays. How will your preparations affect your climate footprint and how can you decrease your impact while leaving your castle sparkling?
The above methods will help you clean your home while supporting the environment. You’ll feel good about your efforts and commitment to a cleaner world.