Spring is in the air, and now is the time that many of us start breaking out the cleaning products and sprucing up our surroundings after a long, cold winter.
Many people are interested in opting for greener and healthier cleaners. Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion out there about eco-friendly cleaning products, so we thought we would put together a primer to separate myth from reality.
Myth 1: Green cleaners don’t work as well as conventional cleaners.
Reality: In our experience, most green cleaners work just as well as conventional cleaners, but if you are worried, look for brands that have third-party certifications, like Green Seal, EcoLogo, ECOCERT or Design for the Environment (DfE). These certifications also include performance standards. We’ll be honest though; as eco-friendly cleaners do not contain harsh or toxic chemicals, you may have to let them sit on the problem area a bit longer before scrubbing.
Myth 2: You can’t kill germs and bacteria without harsh chemicals.
Reality: There are a number of substances that kill germs, from tea tree and thyme oil to plain old vinegar. “Disinfectant” is a legal term and is considered to include bactericides, fungicides, virucides, mycobactericides, tuberculocides, sporicides, sterilants, or combinations of these. Ingredients in disinfectants are regulated and tested by Health Canada and display Drug Identification Numbers (DINs) on their label. If you want major germ-killing power, try Gloves Off All-Purpose Cleaner & Disinfectant or ATTITUDE Eco-Cleaner Disinfectant 99.9%.
Myth 3: Green cleaning products aren’t tested as much, so they may not be safe for kids and pets.
Reality: Kids and pets are floor explorers! And, because of that they’re more susceptible to the chemicals in cleaning products than are we “big people.” (In fact, young children are 10 times more vulnerable to carcinogenic chemicals than adults.) So, gentler, eco-friendly products that are free of carcinogens, harsh chemicals, and phthalate-based fragrance are a safer option than conventional cleaners. However, always exercise good judgment – keep children and pets away from the area being cleaned and always keep cleaners in a secured area, where Little Timmy, Fido and Fluffy can’t get to them.
Myth 4: Green cleaners are more expensive.
Reality: Many green cleaning products are very cost competitive with conventional products. Some green products are so concentrated that even though they do cost more initially, they last longer and go further, eliminating the cost differential. Prices have come down in recent years as they’ve become more readily available.
Myth 5: All you really need is some vinegar and baking soda.
Reality: We love DIY solutions, but not everyone has the time or inclination to be mixing up their own green cleaning products. As well, although vinegar is a great cleaner for glass and some hard surfaces, it’s not meant for every surface. It may damage wood floors and marble countertops.
Do you have any questions about cleaning? We’d be happy to answer them here, or if you are visiting terra20, be sure to drop by the ecobar. Our ecobaristas are a wealth of cleaning know-how and can help you with your cleaning challenges.