Make Your Own
We get a lot of questions at Green Action Centre about which cleaning products are the safest. Often, it’s just as easy to make your own. Many of these ‘recipes’ require only a few ingredients and a couple of minutes to mix up. And you probably already have a lot of the ingredients in your kitchen.
Basic ingredient list for green cleaning products:
- baking soda
- washing soda
- lemon juice
- castile soap (commonly found at health food stores)
- olive oil
- essential oils (lavender, peppermint, chamomile, etc.)
Some of our favourite sources for recipes can be found at Eartheasy, Greenpeace, and David Suzuki Foundation (tested by Canada’s own Queen of Green). Clean Calgary Association also has a Green Cleaning Guide with many helpful ideas. Of course, even home-made cleaning products should be used carefully.
Here are a couple of common recipes:
1 tablespoon Borax
1/2 cup liquid castile soap
4 litres hot water
Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle for easy use. Works on multiple kitchen and bathroom surfaces, including shower mildew.
OTHER ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY OPTIONS
- In Canada, the Ecologo certification program helps consumers to identify cleaning products that are less harmful to the environment. Look for an Ecologo symbol on the package. Check the green cleaners in their list of consumer products.
- Shop at stores that you know carry earth-friendly products.
WHEN CHOOSING PRODUCTS
- Pay attention to text or symbolic warnings indicating the product is poisonous, corrosive, flammable or explosive. If it is, maybe don’t buy or use the stuff.
- Look for products that are safe for children, biodegradeable, non-toxic and not tested on animals.
- In many cases, manufacturers are not required to list specific ingredients, so you may not be able to tell if a product contains chlorine, formaldehyde, or phosphorus, for example. This is another reason to look for simple products from manufacturers that share your environmental concerns.
- Consider whether you really need to use items such as air fresheners and fabric softeners.
Chemicals in some household cleaners are toxic to people and harmful to the environment. Chemical residues often end up in our air, water and bodies, where they can cause problems for human and ecosystem health. For the average consumer, it can be hard to know which substances are dangerous and which are safe.
For various chemicals, human health risks may include endocrine disruption, immune system disruption, development disorders in children, allergies, neurotoxicity, and liver or kidney damage. A number of synthetic chemicals biodegrade slowly or not at all. So it makes sense to choose cleaners that are safe and environmentally friendly. Pollution of rivers, lakes and groundwater is a serious problem. A ban on some chemicals (such as phosphorus in detergents) has been proposed as a way to reduce harm to Lake Winnipeg.