With the busy season of yuntif approaching, now is the time to get our homes clean and shining! But in doing so, be cautious that you do not simultaneously create a toxic mess.
“We’re used to thinking that a home smelling like bleach is clean, but in fact we’re breathing in toxins,” explained Teresa Ward, founding owner and manager of Teresa’s Family Cleaning (www.teresasfamilycleaning.com), a Long Island-based home cleaning company. Many typical store bought cleaning products contain chemicals that could be severely destructive both to the environment as well as residing humans and animals. These destructive impacts include asthmatic symptoms due to chlorine and skin rash resulting from naphthalene, among many other symptoms.
Green cleaning has been defined as sanitary techniques with reduced effects on the environment and health of individuals using a building. In purchasing cleaning supplies from a supermarket, customers should avoid any products containing solvents, phosphates, and other destructive chemicals. Rather, customers should search for products that use plant based ingredients. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the DfE, or Design for Environment, safe household cleaner label, enabling environmentally-cautious customers to select and purchase safer items that protect the environment. This label shows that the DfE scientific review team has scrutinized all ingredients for possible human health and environmental impacts, and that according to present research, the item’s ingredients have very few, if any, possible dangers. More than 2500 products currently hold this label.
Founded in 1993, Teresa’s Family Cleaning was awarded the ARCSI Residential Cleaning Service of Excellence Seal on both the national and worldwide levels, validating them as a best practices company. As one of the first cleaning companies in their area to introduce green sealed certified cleaning products, Teresa’s often uses Spartan, a safe bio-renewable chemical containing very little or no VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and does not leave a toxic smell. “Chemical is kind of a scary term,” Ward said, “But water, H2O, is also a chemical.” She and her staff also use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar, 100% water, and Sheila Shine, a non-Spartan, non-green sealed certified product made with natural oils, to clean.
With the growing awareness of the importance of green cleaning, customers can purchase many products both on-line and in stores.
The S2O laundry sheet (www.s2olaundrysheets.com) can be used in lieu of detergent, fabric softener, stain sticks, and booster products, saving the customer about $1.20 per load. Designed using plant extracts as well as soy, coconut, and corn, the sheets have greater capacity levels in ridding stains. At just $19.99 per 100 sheet tub, S2O can be purchased at the company web site and a number of stores including CVS, Walgreen’s, Rite Aid, and Boscov’s.
In seeking to give babies the best possible healthy start, fathers Kevin Schwartz and Keith Garber founded Baby Ganics (www.babyganics.com), producing a comprehensive selection of household and personal care items for all stages in a baby’s life. Based in Long Island, New York, this company was started in response to significantly high numbers of incidences of childhood illnesses resulting from chemicals used in home cleaning appliances. Staffed primarily by dedicated parents, Baby Ganics consults with pediatricians, allergists, regulatory specialists, toxicologists, and chemists. Their products can be purchased at such stores and web sites as Target, Buy Buy Baby, Babies R Us, Amazon.com, and Diapers.com.
The HAAN steam cleaner (www.haanusa.com) works as a normal cleaner, picking up dirt. Unlike a typical mop, this cleaner lacks any chemicals, enabling one to clean in the presence of pets and children without hurting them. It is also reusable, only requiring replacement of the pads once every six months to a year.
There appears to be clear consensus that green cleaning products are as effective as the store-bought, chemical-laced ones. “The HAAN steam cleaner just lacks the chemical smell,” explained Karen Danke, a marketing manager for HAAN USA based in Lancaster, PA. Instead, this cleaner uses natural chemicals such as water, which Ward says can be just as effective in cleaning as any store-bought product.
Finally, environmentally conscious individuals also have the option of making their own cleaning supplies using simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, and water. The Daily Green (www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/latest/green-cleaning-spring-cleaning-460303#slide-1) contains a number of recipes for home cleaning products.