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Environmentally friendly cleaning products

eco-friendly cleaningMore and more people are getting into cleaning their homes and laundry in a more eco-friendly way. Not only can it help protect the environment, the watercourse, plants and animals, but it can also benefit your family as well. In a time where allergies are high, it can be reassuring to use products with fewer harsh chemicals; ones that cause fewer breathing problems, rashes and adverse reactions. 

Recently discovered is a very real condition, termed multi-chemical sensitivity or MCS.  MCS is an allergic reaction in response to chemicals around the house, even those as seemingly innocuous as air freshener or washing up liquid. Symptoms include depression and anxiety, nausea, headaches and fatigue. Muscle pain and insomnia are amongst the long list of reported symptoms, which can be mild to completely debilitating. 

There are so many so-called green, environmentally friendly, organic, or ecological cleaning products now on the market, it can be difficult to know which ones are genuine and have the lowest impact. Which are safest on our skin, which can be disposed of safely down drains and into septic tanks and soakaways, which are OK for reed bed systems … and which are as effective as harsher chemicals. Here's a guide as to what to look for on ecolabel products, when you're into environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP). 

As a purchaser and consumer, you've got a lot of power. Your buying decisions will influence manufacturers' and stockists'  views and this in turn leads to more competition, more genuinely eco-friendly products and lower prices. But those creating brands also have a lot of power, with clever names, green looking designs and vague terms that SUGGEST a product is good for the environment. It's time to start reading the small print and finding products that really are ecologically sound. This is, after all, big business and manufacturers feel they can charge a premium for green labels. 

Truly green products should have the following traits. 1) Packaging: this should be minimal, from recycled materials and able to be recycled. 2) Ingredients: look for products that contain NONE of the following: phosphates, manufactured enzymes, chlorine bleaches, optical brighteners, denatured ethanol, petrochemicals, caustic soda, petroleum based additives, synthetic perfumes, glycerin, chemical plasticisers, ammonia, phenol and formaldehyde. Watch out for VOCs: propane, butane and silicones. Many of this long list of ingredients are carcinogenic or highly toxic to humans. 3) Use of animal products and testing: not only vegetarians may be concerned about using cleaners that have been tested on animals, and certainly vegetarians will not want those containing animal products. Look on the ingredients for glycerin, sodium tallowate and lanolin: all come from animals. 

Proactively seek out those cleaners, disinfectants and antibacterials based on traditional, safe (indeed edible!) ingredients. Lemon, vinegar and baking soda are prime examples. They may also use borax and SAL soda and grain alcohol. Also consider, however, making your own. This will be cheaper, the ingredients may well already be in your food cupboards and recipes for everything from drain cleaner to mould removers are widely available on the internet. You can reuse old containers, doing even more to help the environment. 

There are solid reasons for buying or making products that are less hazardous. You'll reduce exposure of everyone in the home to toxins, to volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The air quality will be better. Choose those with less and recycled-recyclable packaging, use less energy in their creation. Also look for those that biodegrade easily, reducing negative impacts on water and air when disposed of as well as during their use. You can therefore help the planet, your family and your purse too.

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Grace is a an expert in the field of home organizing and N14 home cleaning