Hello! I’m Alex and I work for Emily’s Maids, a cleaning company in Dallas, TX. I’m so happy to collaborate with Merit Maids! We are excited to bring you a new article where we will share some cleaning tips. In this case, we wanted to talk about eco-friendly products.
Fortunately, you can find many brands and products on the market to switch to better, safer cleaning choices.
Unless you hire a professional cleaning service, you probably feel overwhelmed or confused when you go to the store to pick up your products. There are so many different types of products and brands, that it might be hard to choose a simple, versatile product. Besides, many of them come with harmful components mentioned in their endless list of ingredients.
Let’s talk about the impact on your health and on the environment of commercial cleaning products, as well as what to look for in an eco-friendly product.
GET FAMILIAR WITH THE INGREDIENTS OF EACH PRODUCT
It all starts with the ingredients list. This is important in other areas such as the food you buy and personal care items, but it also applies to cleaning products, especially because they are supposed to have chemical components that are meant for cleansing and disinfecting.
Unfortunately, some products are dangerous and potentially harmful to the environment.
Here are just a few chemicals that you should avoid when choosing a cleaning product:
Cfc’s or chlorofluorocarbons are commonly used for aerosol sprays, such as air fresheners. They are extremely harmful to the atmosphere. You should look for products with pump dispensers or spray dispensers.
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), as well as sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), are components of soaps and cleaning products. They are meant to separate oil and grease from surfaces. As you imagine, dish soap and laundry detergents usually have SLS or SLES in their ingredient list.
Depending on the formulation, it can irritate your skin, lungs, or eyes, especially with long-term use.
Phosphates are found in detergents and reduce the formation of soap scum. They are not harmful to the human body, but after using them, they end up in lakes and rivers. This causes algal bloom, which will affect the natural balance of many aquatic species.
Quaternary ammonium compounds are disinfectants used in disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizers, and household cleaners. Quats are irritating to your skin and your lungs and can cause asthma symptoms. If you want to avoid them, make sure you avoid any ingredient whose name is along the lines of “ammonium chloride”.
Formaldehyde, also known as formalin, is a well-known carcinogen chemical. It can be found in air fresheners, plug-in fragrances, and paper towels, as well as other cleaning products that contain something called terpenes.
You probably know this component as lye or caustic soda.
Unless you work in the chemistry field, all of these products are probably unknown to you. Make sure you read the ingredients list carefully, not just for these components but also for others you might need to pay attention to: maybe you are allergic to a certain component, or you don’t like products with fragrances and prefer their unscented version instead.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND ECO-FRIENDLY CLEANING AGENTS
Now you might be asking yourself: how do eco-friendly cleaning agents do their job then?
Well, the answer is that they use less harmful agents that are plant-based or mineral-based. These agents are either harder or more expensive to obtain on a grand scale, which is why big companies prefer their regular chemicals. Besides, they use as few components as possible, to be as efficient as they can with the lowest number of resources.
It’s time to talk about the features you should be looking for to replace the harmful chemicals of commercial cleaning products.
LOOK FOR SIMPLE, VERSATILE CLEANING PRODUCTS
One thing you might have noticed with regular cleaning brands is that there are so many different cleaning products! Having a wider possibility of using potentially harmful chemicals allows them to create different combinations to suit specific needs.
It may come with benefits, but of course, this also means more money out of your pocket, more plastic bottles and containers, more clutter at home, and even some products that you will use only once or twice per year.
Eco-friendly companies focus on designing products that are multi-purpose cleaners, being able to cover many different surfaces and rooms. They achieve this with a rather short list of ingredients that are meant for cleaning, disinfecting, and degreasing.
NO ARTIFICIAL COLORS OR FRAGRANCES
Most cleaning products are, by nature, clear or just slightly colored and unscented. This means that artificial colors and fragrances are only added to attract more customers, they don’t have any impact on cleaning efficacy.
You should look for products with colors that come from natural sources or no color at all.
The same goes for fragrances. Pretty much all eco-friendly cleaners contain fruits or vegetables with a pleasant smell anyways, such as lemon or lavender.
PLANT-BASED OR MINERAL-BASED CLEANING AGENTS
Natural-sourced cleaning agents tend to be more delicate to your skin, and a lot less toxic than synthetic versions.
For example, surfactants that are extracted from vegetal sources such as decyl glucoside, lauryl glucoside or alkyl glucoside, have been proven to be harmless to the human body.
Other well-known components that are plant-based or fruit-based are coconut oil, citric acid, and castile soap.
LOOK FOR TRANSPARENCY
Even though the goal of every company is to make profit (and that’s okay!), they can make certain decisions that are not entirely transparent to the customer. Either they use pseudonyms or generalizations to hide the source of their product, for example.
A good cleaning industry will be honest and choose each ingredient they put in their products carefully. They will even let you the purpose behind each one of these components.
CHOOSE CLEANING PRODUCTS WITH ECO-FRIENDLY PACKAGING
Not only is it important to take an environmentally friendly approach to the product’s formula, but also to its packaging.
Fortunately, there are many different types of conscious packaging.
Using cardboard, glass, or paper to store products is an increasing trend for eco-friendly brands.
For single-use cleaning items such as cleaning pods or tablets, they are already dissolvable on their own or they have a dissolvable container, similar to medication that comes in the form of pills or tablets.
If they come in plastic containers, try to look for easily recyclable items. A win-win situation is to buy in bulk, in this case, items that are 128 ounces or higher. These types of items come in strong containers, which are designed in a way that you can recycle them easily (bottles with a wide mouth, resistant plastic).
LOOK FOR CONCENTRATED OR ‘JUST-ADD-WATER’ CLEANING PRODUCTS
Pretty much all cleaning and personal care products place “Aqua” as their primary component, which means water. Not only does this mean that they’re basically charging you for water, but for a plastic bottle that could be much smaller.
Eco-friendly brands are aware of this, which is why they create concentrated formulas for you to dilute at home using tap water.
As mentioned above, buying concentrated items in a larger presentation, such as 128oz or higher, will give you twice the benefits such as longer life, less plastic, and less clutter in your home. You can also choose how concentrated you want it to be: for regular cleaning, you can dilute your product (depending on the brand, up to 200 times or higher for ultra-concentrated products!) or just use it straight.
Now that you know what to look for -and what to avoid- when buying a cleaning product, we hope you’re excited to try eco-friendly alternatives. They are less hurtful to the environment and cause a positive impact on your health, and your safety.
Remember the features to look for in cleaning brands: plant-based or mineral-based formulas, concentrated and versatile products, and conscious packaging.
With plant-based or mineral-based products, you’re removing harmful chemicals from the equation that can hurt your skin, lungs, or eyes, as well as the environment. Plus, many of those brands include an unscented version of their products, which is ideal if you have allergies or sensitive skin.
Concentrated, multi-purpose cleaning agents will be cheaper and less contaminating in the long run, and they occupy less space in your home.
Let’s not forget about eco-friendly packaging: we all know how contaminating plastic is, and it ends up in the ocean causing an enormous impact on the environment. Fortunately, now there are many options such as kraft paper, cardboard, glass, and bamboo. If you take good care of them, they will last for years.
Switching to a more conscious cleaning strategy will take time and effort. In the meantime, remember you can hire a professional cleaning service to take care of your home. Not only do they know the best techniques to clean your home, but they also use effective and safe cleaning products from top-rated brands.
Once again, I’m Alex from Emily’s Maids of Dallas and thanks again to Merit Maids for making this collaboration possible.
We hope you enjoyed these tips and hopefully, we will be back soon with more cleaning tips!