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Published on August 17th, 2010 | by veramosley

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Eco Cleaning Your Home: Essential Tips That Can Also Keep Your Children Safe

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Want to get your home just as clean without increasing your carbon footprint or endangering your children? Here are five tips to help you achieve your goal.

Many people are aware that cleaning products are not good for the environment, but they don’t necessarily want to sacrifice the cleanliness of their home. Luckily, you can get your home just as clean and still reduce your carbon footprint. In addition, by using products with less chemicals you can keep your children safe. Between 1990-2006 over 260,000 children under 5 were treated for household cleaning product injuries. Here are six tips to help you achieve the goal of keeping your family safe, and eco cleaning your home:

  1. Buy cleaning products that don’t contain phosphates. Phosphates promote algae growth in lakes and oceans where the water from your home ends up, which in turn kills the fish and other life via suffocation. Powdered, gel, and tablet dishwasher detergents typically contain phosphates, so switch to liquid detergent or a natural, phosphate-free detergent. Dish soaps like Dawn are safe around children. Watch out for misleading claims meant to convince you to buy a certain product, though! Most powdered laundry detergents eliminated phosphates in 1994, and liquid dishwashing and laundry detergents NEVER contained phosphates.
  2. Look for products that are biodegradable. Cleaning products that are biodegradable pose less danger to the environment. Harsh chemicals, on the other hand, are bad news all around. For one, they can pose a risk to our health, as using non-ecofriendly cleaners dramatically increases our exposure to chemicals inside the home. In addition, every time we rinse a sponge, pour out a bucket after mopping, or do laundry or dishes, we are sending those chemicals out into the environment. Using products like bleach or spot removers are harmful to children, so look at bleach alternatives like lemon juice, sodium hydrosulfite (salt & water), or white vinegar.
  3. Use disinfectants sparingly. Modern society has become somewhat paranoid about germs, and disinfectants are being overused. Instead of killing off disease, however, this is encouraging bacteria to become resistant to disinfectants. Try using natural disinfectants like eucalyptus oil, grapefruit seed extract, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide. Only use disinfectants when you need to, such as on doorknobs, toilets, and in other places that have high traffic.
  4. Use cold water for laundry and cleaning. Hot water uses more energy and resources than cold water, since the water has to be heated. This may not seem like much of a difference when cleaning your tub or your countertops, but if everyone is washing whole loads of laundry washed in hot or warm water, it can make a huge impact. Use cold water whenever possible!
  5. Don’t over-dry. Drying dishes and laundry are two huge energy hogs. While you may not be willing to forego the convenience entirely, there are things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint in this respect. For instance, setting your dishwasher to dry without heat will save a lot of energy. As for your clothes, even if you are not willing to line-dry everything, you can eliminate some of your energy usage by being sure to take them out of the dryer as soon as they are dry enough, instead of letting the dryer run over as most people do.
  6. Safety first. Keep all of your cleaning products in a safe place, dry, and away from heat. In addition, keep spray bottle nozzles locked in case your little ones manage to get into your cleaning cabinet. Many accidents happen that could easily have been prevented if the nozzle was locked on a spray bottle.

As consumers have developed greater awareness to the dangers of harsh chemicals, more companies have started offering greener cleaning products, so luckily it is getting easier to find more environmentally-friendly products that are safe for your family. However, you usually pay a premium for these. If you want to clean naturally without the added cost, you can make most of your own cleaning products using common household ingredients that are all natural, and safe for your little ones.

Vera Mosley is a writer for Vacuum Home. Vacuum Home has quickly become a premier online retailer of residential and industrial vacuum cleaners. Since our inception, our key objective has been to provide high-quality, competitively-priced vacuums.

Image credit: emrank at Flickr under a Creative Commons license



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