Although most people don’t look forward to household chores, there is some sweet satisfaction in hard work done right. The laundry folded, the floors swept, the counters gleamed clean. Now you can make household chores even more rewarding by orchestrating a win-win: A tidy home made ship shape with eco-friendly tactics. Here are some simple ways to green your housecleaning
, lighten your carbon footprint and detox your home.
1. Lighten your laundry load
The biggest bang for your sustainability upgrades is in the laundry room. There are several things you can do to ensure the most environmentally friendly laundering
- Make sure that each load is full, which helps save water: Many experts believe that water is our most precious resource.
- Switch from using hot water to cold water. Not only will you save money on your utility bill, but you will save energy and prevent carbon pollution. According to the EPA, “hot water heating accounts for about 90 percent of the energy your machine uses to wash clothes — only 10 percent goes to electricity used by the washer motor.” Using cold water is actually easier on your clothes. It keeps stains from setting and prevents colors from bleeding.
- Weather and space permitting, skip the dryer. The dryer is one of the biggest energy hogs in your house. According to grist, “Dryers remain so energy hungry that even a new one can consume as much electricity as an efficient new clothes washer, refrigerator, and dishwasher combined.” Try line drying outside or invest in a drying rack or retractable indoor clothesline to hand dry inside.
2. Wipe wisely
Rather than using single use paper towels for your wipe down, explore the potential of microfiber cloths. Cloths are more hygienic than a sponge: Since they are machine washable and quick drying, they tend to retain fewer germs.
3. Sweep smart
Use sweeping as your first line of defense. Instead of vacuuming hardwood floors
, sweeping is just as effective and uses zero energy. Plus, there is something soothing about sweeping that vacuuming lacks. You will still have to vacuum your carpets but try sweeping in other areas where it makes more sense.
4. Refresh refrigerator coils
Clean your fridge coils. Purchase a refrigerator coil brush to remove any to brush any dust, dirt, pet hair, etc. from the condenser coils underneath your fridge. This keeps your fridge colder and more energy efficient.
5. Don't toil over the toilet
Make every flush count. If your home still has its original toilet with its multi-gallon flush setup, explore either purchasing a more efficient toilet or try this hack: Put a glass or plastic canister (like a water bottle) in your toilet tank to decrease the amount of water that flushes out. This will help you save several gallons of water every time you flush.
Note how much water we literally flush down the toilet each day: According to Good Inc, “Every day, the average person flushes a toilet 4.5 times. For many of those toilets, each twist of the handle dumps four or more gallons of water down the drain. That's 18 gallons of toilet water per day, per person.”
Choosing nontoxic household products
One of the biggest ways to make your housecleaning more eco-friendly is to choose nontoxic household products
to clean floors, counters, bathrooms and windows. Many of the conventional cleaners are full of harsh chemicals that are not only damaging to the environment but harmful to our health as well. For example, a study published in Environmental Science & Technology
found when bleach combines with a common citrus ingredient called limonene, it creates higher concentrations of toxic emissions.
Air fresheners emanate their own potent bouquet of toxins. One study found they emit over 100 different chemicals that react to each other and form new combos of pollutants. A recent study found that domestic VOCs present in certain household products contribute about as much to air pollution as motor vehicle emissions. Some 53 percent of cleaning products assessed by EWG contain ingredients known to harm the lungs. About 22 percent contain chemicals reported to cause asthma to develop in otherwise healthy individuals.
How to choose eco-friendly cleaners
Labels on household cleaners can be tricky to parse, as many are not required to disclose all ingredients on the label. Despite the potential hazards of cleaning products, the federal government does not require ingredient labels the way that nutrition labels are required for food products. Here are a few red flags to look out for:
- Petrochemical solvents
- Synthetic fragrance
- Artificial dyes
Certain brands, such as Ecos
, Dr. Mercola
, Better Life
, Seventh Generation
, Boulder Clean
and J.R. Watkins
steer clear of formaldehyde, ammonia and dyes.