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Feeling overwhelmed from doomscrolling? Take a deep breath. The world or the climate won’t get fixed in a day.
What you can do is set a few realistic goals to improve the world around you one day at a time — like shopping vintage or snacking on locally grown foods.
Another simple way to reduce your global footprint is to swap conventional cleaning products for greener alternatives. Here are the deets.
Ever gotten an instant headache from scrubbing the shower? It’s not just in your head. The chemicals in many cleaning products can mess with your skin, aggravate allergies, affect your breathing, and irritate sensitive areas like your eyes, nose, or mouth.
According to Clean Water Action, even antibacterial soaps and sponges can be bad for your health since they kill good bacteria too.
Going green with your cleaning just means choosing products made from ingredients that are safe for you and your fellow humans — even kids or folks with compromised immune systems.
Of course, it’s also good for the planet. Avoid chemicals that pollute the water or air around you. And remember to look for recyclable (or already recycled!) packaging.
There are countless “natural” cleaning products on the market, so how do you know which ones are legit?
Cool, so what do they cost?
The items on our list will set you back anywhere from 99 cents (hello there, baking soda!) to $27 (we see you, Poofy).
- $ = under $10
- $$ = $10–20
- $$$ = over $20
Let’s start with the all-stars. Use these products to get squeaky-clean digs without the chemical hangover.
The deets: This 4-ounce bottle rings up at $27.50, but that’s because it’s a concentrate that yields twelve 16-ounce bottles of all-purpose cleaner. Talk about bulk packaging. It’s also packed with natural fragrances like lemon, rosemary, and fir to make your home smell fresh and clean.
The deets: This cleanser uses finely ground limestone to scrub grime and scaly buildup from hard surfaces. The creamy texture comes from xanthan gum, a food-grade thickener.
Online reviews highlight its ability to remove grease as effectively as chemical cleaners.
The deets: Could you mix up a vinegar-and-oils all-purpose floor cleaner at home? Sure, but it would take time to get the perfect ratio of grease-cutting vinegar and antiseptic, aromatic oils.
Because this is a concentrate, a little bit of packaging (and product) goes a long way.
Bathroom messes can be, shall we say, special. It takes a tough product to clean stained grout, toilet rings, and scummy tubs.
The deets: The plant-based ingredients in this shower cleaner help dissolve soap scum, though some reviewers mention that the smell from these essential oils can be overpowering.
The deets: This product’s packaging is made with at least 30 percent post-consumer plastic and is recyclable once you’re done with it.
The deets: The lavender scent could make your bathroom feel like a calming spa. And just as the Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Tub and Tile (Lemon Verbena) does, this Mrs. Meyer’s product helps keep tiles sparkling without relying on chlorine or other harsh chemicals.
Put your money where your mouth is — literally. Scrub your plates and silverware with dish soap that won’t harm your health.
The deets: Animal lovers, you’ll appreciate that these little cleaning pouches are vegan and PETA-certified. The pods, which come in cardboard packaging, completely dissolve in the dishwasher.
The deets: These dish soap bottles are made from 100 percent recycled plastic. The soap inside is equally impressive — biodegradable, septic-safe, hypoallergenic, and free of artificial fragrances. It’s a great choice for folks with sensitive skin.
The deets: Though this dish soap will not work in your mechanical dishwasher, it’s perfectly gentle and nontoxic for human dishwashers. The lemon and thyme scent is fresh and completely natural.
The deets: It doesn’t get much more simple and natural than baking soda. One ingredient, one basic paperboard package.
Price: $ (under a dollar!)
The deets: While baking soda absorbs the stink of last week’s takeout, this aromatherapy mist masks the odor with the soothing smell of lavender.
Small enough to slip into your purse or handbag, this air freshener comes in handy in the bathroom, the bedroom, and maaaaybe even your cubicle (just check with your desk neighbor about potential allergies first).
The deets: Don’t let the clunky package design dissuade you — this green cleaning freshener has a light, airy scent. Reviewers note that the spray freshens up rooms without lingering for too long.
You can whip up several homemade cleaning products in your kitchen or bathroom. With DIY concoctions, you can breathe easy knowing exactly what you’re spraying on your countertops.
These natural cleaning agents won’t leach any nasty chemicals into the environment or your home:
Fill a spray bottle halfway with water, and then fill it to the top with vinegar and give it a shake. Use it to clean everyday hard surfaces.
Mix up water and baking soda to make a thick paste, and voila! You’ve got a gritty yet gentle scrub to clean up sinks, stoves, tubs, and other hard surfaces. Add sea salt if you need more grit or lemon juice if you need to cut through soap scum. Rinse the area with water afterward to avoid residue.
Shake or stir together 2 cups of water, 1 tablespoon of liquid castile soap, and 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil. The soap and oil will smell great and kill off germs.
Pour 2 cups of water, 1/4 cup of white vinegar, 1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol, and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch into a spray bottle. Shake well. Use it to clean glass surfaces such as windows, mirrors, and electric stovetops.
Make your home smell like fresh-baked cookies by boiling water with vanilla and cinnamon. Or get festive by boiling water with lemon or orange slices and spices. Rose petals, fruit, herbs and spices — the sky’s the limit with this method.
Banish serious stank in small spaces (like your fridge or closet) by leaving baking soda in an open bowl. If your carpet stinks, sprinkle it with baking soda, let it sit for a few minutes, and then vacuum up the powder (and the odor!).
If your drain is clogged with soap scum, grease, or other dissolvable gunk, skip the toxic chemicals. Just pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of vinegar. Wait at least 15 minutes before chasing it all down with boiling water.
Yep, you can totally mix up a detergent that’s better for the planet, your clothes, and your wallet. Stir together 1 cup of soap flakes, 1/2 cup of baking soda, and 1/2 cup of washing soda. If you have a super grimy load, add a spoonful or two of oxygen bleach.
Yes, harsh chemicals can unclog your drain in minutes. And sure, your toilet cleaner burns off the stank — plus your nose hairs. But when you use conventional cleaning products for years, you risk harming your health and the environment.
Here’s what the Environmental Protection Agency has to say:
- Regular cleaning products can contain ingredients known to irritate eyes and skin.
- Chemical cleaners contain volatile organic compounds, which diminish air quality.
- Dumping unused chemicals can pollute waterways.
- Folks who use conventional cleaning products on the reg risk prolonged exposure to toxic, dangerous ingredients.
Some of the side effects you could get from non-green cleaning chemicals:
- sore or irritated throat
- red, swollen, teary, or otherwise irritated eyes
The EWG gets real serious, listing these potential risks of exposure to everyday cleaning chemicals:
- chemical burns
- exposure to carcinogens (known cancer-causers) like 1,4-dioxane or formaldehyde
- asthma caused by certain chemical fumes
- fetal development issues due to exposure to cleaning chemicals during pregnancy
On top of those known risks, you could be exposed to an ingredient not listed on the label. Not every cleaning product label lists all the active and inactive ingredients.
Wanna show love to yourself and the environment? Go green! Green cleaning products tend to use gentler, nontoxic ingredients that are safer for humans, animals, and the world.
Finally, remember that a “green” label doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind. Store your cleaning products somewhere that’s safe from children and pets and where they won’t contaminate your food.