Eco-Friendly & Organic Products
For those of you who maybe have not heard the term “green cleaning,” such as those who are new to Canada or the Planet Earth, we hope the following provides information as well as inspiration to help protect the air, water and land that surrounds us.
In its purest form, green cleaning is not just a process, it is a commitment. 21 Century General Cleaning is committed to green cleaning. Ideally, green cleaning uses substances or combinations of substances that are found naturally in the environment or have little “footprint” on the environment once they are used. For example, borax (discussed below) is an ideal example. It is mined, crushed, can be effectively used for all kinds of cleaning jobs, and when drained or wiped a way, pretty much goes back into the environment as a harmless, inert material.
The growth of commercial cleaning products has somewhat overshadowed a number of “natural” cleaning substances that are perfectly fine for many cleaning problems, but have the advantage of blending back into the environment with little to no effect. Their other advantage is that they are “human friendly.”
- Much of the artificial cleaners on the market are caustic, carcinogenic and generally unhealthful. Long-term exposure to most of the bacteria in your home isn’t going to hurt you (we’ve grown up with them), but extended exposure to the chemicals in non-natural cleaners can be harmful to your health.
- Skeptical? Try taking a whiff of chlorine bleach or ammonia every day for a year. Not good. And, never mix the two. This will produce chlorine gas and will kill you in the short term – like a minute or two.
- Still skeptical? Not going to breathe it in? Your skin is a perfectly good conductor of chemicals to the rest of your body. That’s what drug patches do. So, for those who don’t believe in wearing plastic or rubber gloves to clean, please note that you will end up handling chlorine, ammonia, chloroform, dioxin, formaldehyde, hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid, naphthalene, perchloroethylene and other things that are un smellable or unpronounceable.
Modern cleaners are manufactured so that they abrade and/or chemically react with both organic (e.g., mold) and inorganic (dirt) spots, as well as killing bacteria and viruses. However, in many respects, their “cure” is worse than the “disease” they are treating.
There are gentler, effective, common household products that can do the same thing, are cheaper to use, and when the residual cleaner goes down the drain or in the trash, they do far less harm to the environment.
Put baking soda in an empty soda bottle then add some vinegar, screw the cap back on, run fast, and BOOM!, the result gives a most satisfying explosion to the delight of anyone under the age of 13. (We’re not really recommending you do this!) Our point is that simple baking soda and vinegar is a powerful combination, and there are many suitable uses for this mixture around the house that will boil and bubble problems away, and does’t hurt the environment when drained down the sink.
- Clogged drains – Frequently, instead of using a caustic chemical drain cleaner, simply boil water and pour it in the drain to loosen whatever is blocking the pipe. If that does’t work, bring out the heavy artillery. Just like the recently destroyed soda bottle, baking soda (1/2 cup) and white vinegar (1/2 cup) makes a fine witch’s brew of bubbling, non-caustic drain cleaner. If you can cap the drain, so much the better. The pressure buildup, along with the chemical reaction between the baking soda and vinegar, will eat away, and blow away, the clog. You can also use salt and baking soda, followed up with a quart or so of boiling water, and some patience to wait several hours and let the combo work.
- Bath, tile and other surfaces – Same combination of baking soda with vinegar works here to. Baking soda is somewhat gritty – a bit like the “soft scrub” bleach-based commercial cleaners, but obviously not as environmentally harmful. Mix with a small quantity of vinegar, and you have a perfect tile, countertop and grout cleaner. In fact, for grout, let the mixture sit for awhile, then rinse away with clean water.
Borax is a natural substance and used to be a prime cleaning choice (anyone remember the 20-mule team that hauled borax across your television screen?). Guess what? Still works. Hasn’t changed in centuries. Borax is a gritty cleaner that takes off stains, dried-up spills, disinfects and smells pretty good besides! Try this instead of bleach-based cleansing powder and you’ll get similar results without the left-over smell of bleach. Borax works well on tile, grout and counter tops.
Specifically, white vinegar. Vinegar makes a great window cleaner for the home and the car. You can even save on paper towels and use newspaper to wipe with. Works just great in taking off the films that build up on windows, as well as dust, fingerprints and all the detritus that accumulates, both inside and outside. How about your floors, including wood floors? Mix a ¼ cup of white vinegar into a gallon of hot water and scrub away. You’ll take up as much gunk as a commercial cleaner and leave your floors just as shiny and clean.
As you prepare dinner, why not pause a minute and polish the wood furniture with your salad dressing? No, we’re not kidding. Furniture polish is just another type of oil. Experiment a bit with combinations of olive oil and vinegar (if it tastes good, use it!) and check the results. After a couple of weekly treatments, you should hit on a combination that makes each piece of wood glow (results may vary on different types of wood, so be patient). You might even try other kinds of oil (canola, sunflower), but we recommend you pass on the blue cheese and ranch dressings to polish the furniture!
Here’s an idea. Don’t use any cleaners at all – natural or manufactured. While technology has given us some questionable chemical cleaners, it has also come up with micro fiber – a minor miracle in cleaning choices. Micro fiber is pretty much as the name implies. It is a cloth made of really, really tiny fibers. The fibers are so fine that they capture the smallest bits of dirt and dust, and the bacteria that live with them. So, just wet the micro fiber, pass over the surface you want to clean, and it removes all the detritus down to the smallest micro beast. Rinse and repeat. 21 Century General Cleaning uses micro fiber cloths extensively in our work.
Organic & Eco-Friendly Cleaners
Green cleaners are making their way onto the grocery store shelves and people become more conscious about their unintended consequences vis-à-vis the environment. Try some, but read the label first to ensure that the artificial ingredients are minimal. In fact, it might be worth an internet search to see what others say about these products.