SRG: We hear a lot about green cleaning nowadays. Can you give me a quick summary of just what green cleaning means and why it’s important today?
JW: Unfortunately there is no universal standard to define “Green Cleaning.” However, when looking for a cleaning service or tackling a cleaning problem for yourself, the following guidelines ensure you’re meeting a greener standard:
- Use only products which disclose all ingredients and are free from petrochemicals or any substance not known to be safe.
- Low water use: Only use as much product as needed to get the job done, and use no-rinse formulas.
- No paper waste: Use only applicators (cloths, mops, etc) that can be washed and re-used many times over.
- Certified filtration: Vacuums must be certified TRUE HEPA, not merely equipped with a HEPA filter.
- Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance! If you keep up with routine cleaning tasks by doing a little every week and cleaning as you go, cleaning problems won’t reach the point where harsh, poisonous chemicals are needed.
SRG: How do our household cleaners affect our indoor air quality?
JW: I could write a book! Consider this: according to the EPA, Americans spend an average of 90% of their time indoors, and EPA studies have found levels of pollutants in our indoor air to be 2-5 times higher than outdoor levels. Cleaning products are the single biggest source of these pollutants. Worst of all, children are most susceptible to the chemicals found in chemical-based cleaning products. Their thinner skin and growing bodies literally take in more of what’s around them.
SRG: Seems that one of the least favorite cleaning jobs of many is dusting. Is it important to do for health reasons? Or is it mostly aesthetic?
JW: Glad you asked. A little known fact is that dust is in fact the most toxic kind of mess in our homes. It carries with it all the pollutants and allergens from inside and outside, and should be kept to a minimum with regular dusting (at least once every two weeks).
SRG: What kind of cleaning products do you use? And what are the basic ingredients?
JW: Our cleaning products are simple mixtures of vinegar, baking soda, plant-based detergent and essential oils. They are so natural that they actually spoil, which isn’t an issue for us, since we use them very quickly after they’re made.
You can easily make similar products yourself at home. Try this one for a grease and grime cutter/deodorizer:
½ tsp plant-based dish detergent
2 tsp baking soda
2 ½ cups water
10-15 drops of an essential oil of your choice
Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle and give a good shake. Spray and wipe with a microfiber or cotton cloth. If you leave out the essential oils, it’ll keep indefinitely.
SRG: Do they cost more than mainstream cleaning products?
JW: If you make them yourself they cost pennies on the dollar! Leave out the essential oils and save even more.
SRG: Yes, but do they really work on tough, stubborn cleaning jobs like mold in the shower? And how about germs?
JW: Absolutely! I’ve designed our products to be just as effective as chemical-based cleaners. They need to be, since we have to clean a home quickly and with excellent results. As for mold, we can kill it but once it stains a surface your only recourse is toxic chlorine bleach. My advice – prevent it in the first place by ensuring your bath fan is working properly and using a squeegee to remove excess moisture after each shower. For germs – all of our essential oils (and vinegar!) have natural disinfecting properties. Again, I could write a book, but with the exception of those with medically compromised immune systems, the anti-bacterial mania of the past few years is completely unnecessary, and is contributing to a whole host of new health issues.
SRG: Anything you think we should know?
JW: Demand a higher standard for products and services claiming to be “Green.” Since there is no universal definition of the word, and no regulation surrounding its use, it’s up to you to ask the right questions and vote with your dollar.