Friday, 19 September 2014

10 Eco-Friendly Ingredients for Everyday Green Cleaning

Written by Karen Peltier

Green clean your whole house with these readily available products that are all natural, environmentally friendly, and cost effective. Already included in many major green, commercial brand products, they can be used for green cleaning on their own or incorporated as ingredients into many easy, do-it-yourself green cleaning recipes.  Plus, because they are safer and more effective than their toxic commercial counterparts, you can feel good about using them and tread more lightly on the planet while you’re at it!

1. Baking Soda (Sodium bicarbonate)

This versatile product is probably one of the top most important green cleaning ingredients. Very alkaline in nature with a high pH, it’s great for its ability to absorb grease and spills, neutralize odors, and scrub surfaces effectively, but gently without scratching. It also has bactericidal and stain removing abilities as shown in one dental care study published in the Journal of Periodontology and another in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry, respectively. So if it can work on your teeth, it definitely will work on other surfaces, too! 

 Economy Size Baking Soda Bag. Photo © Karen Peltier  

2. Castile or Natural Dish Soap

Indispensable for washing, soap helps loosen dirt and break down grease. Castile soap, which is made from olive oil, or natural dishwashing detergent that is free of synthetic fragrances, dyes, and additives, are an essential part of any green cleaning kit. They can be used in products, such as all-purpose sprays, cream cleansers, etc.

 Unscented Organic Castile Soap. Photo © Karen Peltier

3. Club Soda

Useful for treating difficult stains and spots (e.g., blood, chocolate, coffee, tea, wine, etc.), club soda is also an ingredient in some homemade cleaning and deodorizing sprays.

Club Soda. Photo © Karen Peltier

4. Essential Oils

Enhance the natural cleansing properties of your cleaners with these potent, natural plant-based oils that are environmentally friendly and biodegradable. Many essential oils, such as the top five for green cleaning, have antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties so they are a great addition to unscented, green cleaning products and homemade natural cleansers, such as this aromatherapy cleanser. As a bonus, essential oils even provide some health benefits while you clean; for example, lavender calms the nervous system.
 Lavender, Thyme, and Oregano Essential Oils. Photo © Karen Peltier

5. Hydrogen Peroxide

This product is an earth-friendly alternative to chlorine bleach due to its gentle, non-toxic bleaching action and antiseptic properties. A study published in the PDA Journal of Pharmaceutical Science and Technology showed that nebulized hydrogen peroxide (which is peroxide delivered in a mist form) is an effective disinfectant for surfaces in research, animal labs, and hospital rooms, so why not try hydrogen peroxide at home in rooms where sanitation is key, such as your bathroom and kitchen?

Bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide. Photo © Karen Peltier

6. Kosher Salt

Think about how great salt is as a natural preservative in curing meat and preventing contamination and you can get a pretty good idea of how it might be great for cleaning. Salt, which is primarily sodium chloride, is beneficial for scrubbing and fighting mold and mildew. It also has some surprising uses; for example, when combined with lemons or limes, it’s an effective rust remover.

Salt. Photo © Karen Peltier

7. Lemons and Limes

The fresh citrusy scent of these fruits can’t be beat for their ability to cut through grease and grime. The low pH (i.e., 2.0 pH for lemon) and citric acid content of lemons and limes make it difficult for many microorganisms to grow, so they are great for combatting germs while you clean! In addition, their high acidity level helps loosen alkaline mineral deposits, such as calcium, and dissolve soap scum. And when you squeeze the rind of a lime or lemon “backwards” with a citrus juicer, such as suggested in this recipe for “Clean Everything Lemon-Lime Spray,” you also extract a little of the essential oils for added cleaning benefits!
Lemons and Limes. Photo © Karen Peltier

8. Non-GMO Cornstarch

Cornstarch made from non-genetically-modified (GMO) corn makes cleaning windows, buffing, polishing, and getting rid of grease, grime, and dirt a snap.  And, of course, it can also be used as a laundry starch!

Non-GMO Cornstarch. Photo © Karen Peltier

9. Organic Olive Oil

This is an awesome product for creating your own earth-friendly, safe cleaners and polishers for stainless steel and wood.

Bulk Size Olive Oil. Photo © Karen Peltier

10. Vinegar

With this absolutely essential ingredient, you can easily clean more than 90% of your home. Vinegar’s low pH (2.0) and acetic acid content make it an effective cleaner for combating soap scum, alkaline mineral deposits, inhibiting mold, and more. It’s also an effective disinfectant that kills viruses and bacteria as several studies have shown.  For example, a 2010 scientific study showed that a 10% malt vinegar solution was just as effective as commercial cleaning wipes in killing the Human Influenza A/H1N1 virus.

Heinz Vinegar. Photo © Karen Peltier