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Climate for Action: Spring Cleaning

2009 March 31

About the Author: Loreal Crumbley, a senior at George Mason University, is an intern with EPA’s Environmental Education Division through EPA’s Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP).

For many of you, spring cleaning is just around the corner. I don’t know about you but my family has already begun cleaning our home. Washing windows, dusting, cleaning pipes, washing and packing away winter necessities are just a few things families do when cleaning.

We all use household cleaners, solvents and detergents. Most household shelves are filled with toxic substances. Ordinary household cleaners and solvents contain materials that can pollute our air and water systems. These materials contain acids, volatile organic compounds (VOC), lye, and other toxic chemicals. The release of these toxic chemicals into our environment can cause air pollution, as well as soil and groundwater damage. Contaminating our air and water can threaten human health and other organisms living in our environment.

We can limit the amount of toxic chemicals that are released into our environment by changing how we clean our homes. To begin non-toxic cleaning, you should use natural methods to clean your home. Some examples are:

  • Baking soda is frequently used to reduce the effects of odors in water and in the air. Many use baking soda to freshen-up carpets and as air fresheners. It can also be used when cleaning kitchens, bathrooms and windows.
  • Vinegar and lemon juice can be used to clean scum and grime off of dishes. They are also good when cleaning copper or brass objects. Vinegar can be used when cleaning bathrooms, kitchens, floors and appliances.
  • Bar soaps can be used in the place of bleaches, ammonias, and detergents. When doing laundry these detergents can be harmful to our environment and sometimes cause allergies and skin irritation. Bars soaps are less toxic and can reduce allergies and skin irritation.
  • Hang drying your clothes can be an alternative to using a dryer. Chemically loaded fabric softeners are sometimes used in dryers; hang drying can eliminate this as well as reducing the amount of energy you use in your home.

These are just a few tips to non-toxic cleaning around the home. I’m sure lots of you have your own special home recipes that you use. Please let me know; we all need to reduce the amount of toxics that we release into the environment.

Remember it is our job to keep our environment healthy and beautiful!! Keeping our environment clean and safe will protect the earth and our health!

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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15 Responses leave one →
  1. Kate permalink
    April 1, 2009

    Although your suggestions about substituting bar soap for detergent and refraining from using your dryer, are ideal solutions for being environmentally conscious while cleaning, they are not the most convenient. I don’t have time to make my own cleaning products and hang my clothes to dry. What are your thoughts on environmentally-friendly cleaning products such as ‘Seventh Generation’, ‘Meyers’, etc.? Do you believe they measure up to what they claim to be: “non-toxic, green cleaning products”?

  2. Lina-EPA permalink*
    April 2, 2009

    I agree. Sometimes practicality is the driving force for many of our actions even if we have a green heart in the right place, so to speak.

    Although we can’t endorse specific products, are so-called “green detergents” truly better options that traditional brands?

    I’ve always wondered. Where can we find out that information?

  3. Mike Orme permalink
    October 24, 2009

    Some time back I started thinking about all the chemicals I was using as a professional carpet cleaner. I started to investigate raw cleaning products from yester year and started experimenting.

    To my suprise some of these ‘basic’ commodities with little or no impact on the environment were just as and in some cases better than the expensive brand name products. My customers are happier too, less impact and less cost!

    Mike

  4. Sandra permalink
    November 8, 2009

    Thanks, some good cleaning tips, I run cleaners in Bradford UK – Some of these tips will be very handy.

  5. Sandra permalink
    November 8, 2009

    Thanks, some good cleaning tips, I run cleaners in Bradford Some of these tips will be very handy.

  6. Mike permalink
    November 23, 2009

    That’s a really cool building and it’s the future. Here in the UK there are a few green public buildings but it has yet to take off.

    I was interested in the buildings management side, janatorial and indoor air quality etc.

    Good to see the use of green cleaning products.

    Mike

  7. Sarah James permalink
    December 3, 2009

    One item the EPA can address, and it’s rather simple with respect to the watersheds feeding the Chesapeake Bay: Local districts in Northern Virginia use mile cleaned or maintained in order to justify their usefulness. For example, if a class of volunteer team cleaned a really dirty stream for say 1/4 mile, then that is all that is registered or recorded. Sarah

  8. john conner permalink
    January 16, 2010

    yes indeed i am the future of mankind

  9. john conner permalink
    January 16, 2010

    yes indeed youare all right i am the future

  10. ARPS Cleaning Services permalink
    March 3, 2010

    You should also try cleaning windows with deionized water. Leaves no streaks an once the window is clean, there is nothing for the dirt to cling to. Pure water, what’s more eco conscious than that?

  11. jenny cleaning hertfordshire permalink
    June 3, 2010

    I never think of it that even our cleaning style can pollute environment.
    Thank you so much for giving the tips. I will take care now.

    Regards
    jenny

  12. marry domeatic cleaning hertfordshire permalink
    June 9, 2010

    This is a very different article. We all need to read it to save our world.

    Regards
    Marry

  13. Selly- Property management permalink
    June 23, 2010

    If every one will perform his duty then There is no chance that our environment will be pollute. Join hands for Green World.

    Regards
    Selly

  14. Lilly permalink
    August 26, 2010

    During Spring this kind of cleaning is necessary for gardens and homes.
    Regards

  15. john permalink
    November 8, 2010

    This is a very different article. We all need to read it to save our world.

    Regards,
    John

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