You will have seen us talking lots about Green Cleaning online, but what are the reasons to be green cleaning your home?
At the highest level, the primary reason to green clean your home is health: both for you and your family, and the environment. An added benefit to green cleaning your home, is that after a little bit of up-front cost, very rapidly it becomes cheaper.
We think about pollution at an environmental level, but how many of us have actually questioned the pollution level INSIDE our house, where we can spend up to 90% of our time? And equally, how many of us think about what happens to the cleaning sprays and creams after we flush them down the loo or wash them down the plughole? Or what happens to that washing up brush or cleaning sponge when we throw it away in the bin? What we do and the products we use inside our home have a huge impact, both on our own health and that of the plants and animals living far away from it.
So let me give you 6 reasons to be green cleaning your home:
1. Health of Your Lungs
Many standard household cleaning products contain Volatile Organic Compounds, also known as VOCs.
What are VOCs?
VOCs are organic chemicals that have low boiling points, which cause large numbers of their molecules to evaporate at an ordinary room temperature. (For example, formaldehyde, which is in paint and resins, has a boiling point of only -19’C / -2’F.) VOCs can be both human-made and naturally occurring.
Why are they a problem?
The British Lung Foundation states that although more rigorous research is needed before we can fully be certain of the long term effects of breathing in VOCs, about half the studies so far suggest that being exposed to these chemicals increases your risk of developing an allergy or asthma.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) tells us that a 10-country study of 3,500 individuals, who were initially asthma-free, found that nine years later, those who used the spray cleaners once a week had a 30-50% increased risk of developing asthma – the risk increasing both the more often people used sprays and the greater number of different sprays used.
Research published in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine followed 6,000 people over a 20-year period. They found that lung function decline in cleaners or regularly using cleaning products was the same as smoking 20 cigarettes a day over 10 to 20 years. The researchers speculated that chemicals in cleaning products irritate the fragile mucous membrane lining of our lungs, which, over time, leads to lasting damage and ‘remodelling’ of our airways.
Where can I find VOCs?
You’ll find VOCs in cleaning and DIY products, such as:
- air fresheners
- carpet cleaners
- furniture polish
- oven cleaners
- paints and paint strippers
- pesticides and fungicides
2. Your Reproductive and Hormonal Health
Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs)
According to Breast Cancer UK:
There are many chemicals in your environment that can influence your risk of getting breast cancer. Some of these cause cancer by damaging your DNA – these are known as carcinogens. Others affect your hormone system and are known as Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs). These can be found in everyday products such as cosmetics, cleaning sprays and even furniture. EDCs interfere with the normal functioning of your hormones. In particular, those that interfere with the natural hormone oestrogen may increase your breast cancer risk.
These EDCs can be found across a range of everyday products that we use as standard in our daily lives: cosmetics and beauty products, many household items, air pollution and….. cleaning products.
Amongst their recommendations about what you can do, they suggest avoiding checking the labels of your cleaning products, avoiding many of the chemicals used in them, and making your own.
For more information, head to: https://www.breastcanceruk.org.uk/reduce-your-risk/chemicals-and-environment/
3. Using Food Ingredients as Green Cleaning Product Ingredients is Safer for your Whole Family
The main ingredients for green cleaning are actually foods, or derived from foods – White Vinegar, Baking Soda, Lemons, Citric Acid. Since it is all food based you can be reassured that if small hands touch a cleaned surface they won't be consuming chemicals and nasties into their systems.
(I actually accidentally got a drop of my shower cleaning spray in my eye while I was cleaning the shower this weekend. Whilst it stung (A LOT!!) after a few blinks, my eye was totally fine (if a little red for a while) and I wasn’t worried I was going to lose my sight, and wanting to rush straight to the hospital.)
If you want to add essential oils to your sprays, all of the oils we add to our cleaning recipes are edible too, which gives even more reassurance. It means that parents can get children involved in cleaning at a younger age, which is both safe and empowering for children.
4. Natural Cleaning Products are Better for the Environment
Standard washing up sponges are made from plastic, and over time they break down and shed small particles of plastic (micro plastics), which get washed down the plug hole and into our wider water system. And at the end of their life (which isn’t long), we chuck them in the bin to go into landfill. It’s the same with washing up brushes, scouring pads, cloths, loo brushes etc. By buying products made of natural materials, which are plastic free, biodegradable and even compostable, no micro-plastics are shed. And at the end of their life, they can often simply be composted. Head to www.thecontentedcompany.com to have a browse of what we have on offer.
In terms of the chemicals in most standard cleaning liquids and sprays, whilst most chemicals are removed from our waste water by treatment plants, three chemicals remain: Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Ammonia. They enter the waterways and build up causing accelerated plant growth – often leading to dense vegetation that clogs the waterways. Other marine plants and animal life are often crowded out. The excess plants then die in large amounts, decay and deplete the oxygen in the water. Algae then grows, which then causes animals to die (and decay), soon making the water unsuitable for drinking, cooking or bathing.
5. Green Cleaning is Effective
The primary ingredient of many natural cleaning products is white vinegar. Vinegar is acetic acid, which has the ability to destroy bacteria and viruses. It can tackle, salmonella, E.Coli and other bacteria which can cause pneumonia, meningitis and other infections.
UK researchers found that vinegar can rapidly inactivate the flu virus. And US researchers found that vinegar can efficiently kill the bacteria that causes tuberculosis (after 30 minutes of exposure to a six per cent acetic solution).
To make our cleaning products extra strong at resisting bacteria, viruses etc we sometimes add doTERRA essential oils. They also have natural anti-bacterial, anti-viral and decongestant properties.
Important Coronavirus / Covid-19 Side Note[i]:
- Isopropyl Alcohol / Rubbing Alcohol
- Hydrogen Peroxide
And on top of all that, it really cleans until your house shines!!
6. Green Cleaning is Cost Effective
Did you know that green cleaning is cost-effective? A 500ml cleaning spray as pictured above takes me 5 minutes to make. Costs wise, depending on whether you use DoTERRA Essential Oils, Lemon Juice or simply citrus fruit peel, it will cost somewhere between 25-90p for the spray, plus £6.50 for the bottle. So £6.75-£7.40 initial cost and 25-90p per bottle after that. Ecover Multi-Action spray costs around £2.50 for 500ml, plus it’s in a disposable / recyclable plastic bottle each time. So after three rounds of your homemade spray, you’ll have made your money back, plus saved three whole plastic bottles!
To make 5 litres of simple laundry detergent with 15 drops of doTERRA Lemon oils in it costs me £3.62 to make. If I were to buy 5 litres of Ecover laundry detergent it would cost me around £15.99 at least – often more. That's a 342% cost increase for the consumer!
So how can you learn more....??
Green Cleaning for Healthier Homes Mini Course - Monday 15th - Friday 19th March 2021
My lovely friend Nat Leeman, is a DoTERRA Essential Oils Advocate. And she and I are running a 5 day online mini-course to show you exactly what you need to do to clean your home more safely, cost effectively that supports your health and the environment.
We will go through every room in the home, explain how to clean it with tried and tested recipes.
Happy Green Cleaning! 💚 🧽 🛀 🧹 🌿 ✨
As ever, with love from our families to yours,
Elena & Nat x
References & Further Reading:
British Lung Foundation – Indoor Air Pollution - https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/indoor-air-pollution/about-indoor-air-pollution
Environmental Working Group - Cleaning Supplies and Your Health - https://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/cleaners_and_health
The Independent - Cleaning products as bad for lungs as smoking 20 cigarettes a day, scientists warn - https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/cleaning-products-lungs-damage-cigarettes-smoking-20-day-scientists-warning-a8214051.html
Breast Cancer UK – Reduce Your Risk: Chemicals and Environment - https://www.breastcanceruk.org.uk/reduce-your-risk/chemicals-and-environment/
Women’s Health Magazine - Is Vinegar A Disinfectant? What To Know Before Using White Vinegar For Cleaning -https://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/a31264367/is-vinegar-a-disinfectant/
David Suzuki - Does vinegar kill germs? - https://davidsuzuki.org/queen-of-green/does-vinegar-kill-germs
ABC.Net - Does vinegar really kill household germs? - https://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2018-01-12/does-vinegar-really-kill-household-germs/8806878
Consumer Reports - These Common Household Products Can Destroy the Novel Coronavirus - https://www.consumerreports.org/cleaning/common-household-products-that-can-destroy-novel-coronavirus
Wired - Does alcohol kill coronavirus? The biggest myths, busted -https://www.wired.co.uk/article/alcohol-kills-coronavirus-myth-busting
Nature’s Nurture - How to Naturally Disinfect Your Home Without Bleach -https://naturesnurtureblog.com/simple-natural-disinfectant
Home Guides - How Does Household Cleaner Affect the Environment? -https://homeguides.sfgate.com/household-cleaner-affect-environment-79335.html
[i] These Common Household Products Can Destroy the Novel Coronavirus
[ii] Does alcohol kill coronavirus? The biggest myths, busted -