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Cleaning house is good for the spirit but it’s not always good for the environment. That’s because many of today’s cleaning products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which, when inhaled or touched, can harm you and your family.
We asked green cleaning coach Leslie Reichert, a longtime advocate for environmentally safe cleaning, to help us choose some great eco-friendly products. Try them for a clean house — and a cleaner environment.
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These towels can be hand-rinsed up to 100 times, drastically reducing paper towel consumption and waste. So tough they function like cloth, bamboo towels can handle scrubbing and cleaning tasks all over the house, from greasy cooktops to grungy tubs. Made from sustainable and renewable sources, they leave minimal or no imprint on the earth at the end of the product life cycle. “I’ve tried these. Great product!” Reichert says.
Microfiber on steroids — that’s how we describe ecloth. Its super absorbent fibers tackle dirty windows with just water, no chemicals! Get lint-free, streak-free, sparkling windows and save trees at the same time. Each cloth is good for up to 300 washings — that means a lot of clean windows! “You get what you pay for without overpaying,” says Reichert.
Scrubs clean without scratching wood, plastic, stainless steel, cast iron, non-stick coatings or glass. It rinses clean and debris-free, too, so it doesn’t develop odors. It has a hard texture in cold water for tough scrubbing and a soft texture in warm water for gentle cleaning. “I’ve used this one and it’s cool,” says Reichert. (We love Scrub Daddy so much we wrote about it in our article about life changing kitchen gadgets under $15!)
Another way to eliminate paper waste in the home, a single Skoy cloth replaces up to 15 rolls of paper towels and is 100 percent biodegradable. Skoy Cloth can be used like cloth for cleaning, yet it is more absorbent (it absorbs 15 times its weight). Plus, it dries quickly to prevent the growth of bacteria. Reusable, it is safe for the dishwasher, washer and dryer. “I love the cloth AND their scrub!!” adds Reichert.
Note: Most of these products have been graded A or B by Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.
Urine off is formulated with specialized enzymes and bacteria that break down urine (and other bodily discharges) that cause odors and stains in bathrooms. Ideal for tubs, tile, grout, toilet, sink, floor and walls. No harsh chemicals. Especially useful in homes where incontinence, pets or “poor aim” are a problem. If they can hit it, Urine off can get rid of it! “This stuff really works,” says Reichert.
An eco-friendly way to clean the interiors of appliance like washers, dishwashers and garbage disposals. Made with powerful citric extracts, it is non-toxic, biodegradable and phosphate-free. “All of Lemi shine’s products are awesome,” comments Reichert.
Wash clothes without detergent or soap! The Laundry Egg contains two types of pellets: tourmaline ceramic pellets that weaken the bond between dirt and fabric and mineral pellets that lift dirt away. One egg lasts 720 washes and requires adding some new mineral pellets every 72 washes. Dermatologically tested, it contains no harsh chemicals and is perfect for babies or people with sensitive skin. The fragrance-free Laundry Egg is supported by the National Eczema society.
This cleaner combines plant-derived ingredients and essential oils for a natural way to get rid of kitchen messes and bathroom odors. It’s great on all non-porous surfaces such as finished wood and tile floors, countertops, walls, porcelain, bathroom fixtures, sealed natural and synthetic stone. Plus, it’s made in the USA. “This product is rated C by EWG but Mrs. Meyer's products are a great first step in trying to remove toxins from cleaning products. I love the scents!” says Reichert.
Tackle grimy surfaces throughout your home with this non-scratching powder. Contains no chlorine or phosphates. Made with a naturally safe ash and oxygen bleach, it’s great on tile, stainless steel, professional cookware, porcelain fixtures and more. “I like Mrs. Meyer's powder oxygen bleach scrub,” says Reichert. “Plus, it’s rated a B by EWG.”
This product uses solvents from timber mill byproducts to dissolve soap scum, and plant-based surface modifiers to reduce grimy buildup. It is biodegradable and safe for most surfaces: tubs, tiles, sinks, countertops and fixtures. “This is a good option,” says Reichert, “and it’s rated B by EWG.”
Simply Floored safely cleans and restores shine to hardwood, ceramic tile, stone, bamboo, vinyl, laminate and other sealed floors. No rinsing, no residues. “I recommend this floor cleaner,” says Reichert. “It is rated C by EWG.”
Naturally powered by plant extracts, this toilet bowl cleaner removes stubborn stains and deodorize as it cleans. It’s thick, so it clings to the surface for effective cleaning. Safe for septic tanks and waterways. “I love all Better Life products,” says Reichert. “While this one isn’t rated by EWG, all their other products are As and Bs. I would also recommend a pumice stone for removing toilet bowl ring. Nothing does a better job on it."
Tackle tough toilet bowl rings with a pumice stone. Safe for porcelain, it removes rings with just a bit of elbow grease. “Toilet bowl rings are tough. This product wipes them out!” says Reichert.
This article was originally published in August 2017 on TODAY.com.