Natural Vs Chemical - the big debate!
Many people are intrigued by the concept of Eco Friendly cleaning, of those some are sceptical - can natural products and ingredients really clean as efficiently as chemically based products? Are traditional cleaning products really that bad? Others are excited by the concept of Eco Cleaning and want to know more!
Despite running an Eco Friendly cleaning company I am not an expert on Eco Friendly cleaning. In the past 18 months I have spent a lot of time researching Eco Friendly cleaning methods and natural ingredients that can be used for cleaning in the home or work place. (See my blog on our products for more information). I have experiemented in my own home, using products put together from ingredients from my kitchen cupboard to see what products clean most effectively and how I can make them smell good as well!.
To understand more about Eco Friendly cleaning I think it is important to look at a comparison between natural products and ingredients and chemically based products. How do they differ from each other and why do I believe natural products and ingredients are better to use for cleaning.
Why should you use natural products or ingredients for cleaning?
Now you may think that the first point of comparison between Green cleaning and chemical cleaning would be the environmental aspect of cleaning products. Ofcourse this is crucially very important in the marketing of Eco Friendly products and as one of the unique selling points of the products. however there are a number of other reasons that Eco Friendly cleaning wins over using chemicals to clean which I am going to touch on first.
- Safety and Health - Many household and commercial cleaning products are labelled irritant or toxic. We are advised to wear gloves when we use them and to use the products in a well ventilated place so that we don't inhale them. This suggests that the products do not contain very nice ingredients! A lot of the ingredients in traditional cleaning products are dangerous to the environment and as discussed here they are dangerous to our health. On a personal level if I am cleaning then I often find myself coughing and spluttering when I use chemicals. I have to have windows and doors open and I can feel the products on my lungs when I breath. It is not a nice feeling. Furthermore, if a child was to ingest a chemically based cleaning product then the results could be terrible. With natural products it is still not wise to ingest the cleaning products but there would be a significantly reduced risk to health*. *Please read the labels on any cleaning products that you use prior to use and take action with the guidelines accordingly, all products vary and medical attention may need to be sought if a product is swallowed even if the product is natural. Many people are drawn to use traditional chemical cleaning products due to the fragrance that they promise. The products may leave you property smelling fresh and fragrant but it is important to remember that this is often a synthetic fragrance created by a chemical rather than a natural smell.
- Allergy - Moving on from the health concerns associated with using chemicals to clean, I believe that using natural products to clean your home is beneficial to health in at other ways as well. Many people suffer from allergies and they find that their allergies can be worsened by reactions to chemicals used around the home. By using natural products to clean your home you are reducing the risk of allergy for all the family. I try to mix products according to specific client's requirements. For example lavender is a naturally derived ingredient that is commonly known to be one that very few people react to or are allergic to. If a client came to me and suffered with severe health problems or allergies we would discuss specific triggers that they have and I would then go away and prepare a cleaning kit that would minimise the impact on their condition.
- Cost - I believe that Eco cleaning can be far cheaper than cleaning with chemicals. Firstly, a number of the key ingredients for natural cleaning you may already have in your kitchen cupboard. Have a look, lemon juice, baking soda and white vinegar are all common ingredients for Eco Cleaning. These items are cheap to buy and can be used in cooking as well as cleaning so have multiple purposes! I use essential oils to fragrance my products - you need such a little amount in the preparation of my products that the cost works out as very low. Secondly, I use a lot of E-Cloths (or similar there are many varieties available). These are micro fibre cloths. the different fibres in the cloths are said to break up the dirt and retain it. They are recommended for use with just water. using microfibre cloths such as the E-Cloth means that the need for product is reduced, bringing the cost of cleaning down even further. 'The average UK household spends £109 a year on cleaning materia;s. As e-cloths just use water and last for years, see what you could save!' (Http://www.e-cloth.com). As these cloths are recommended for use with just water; using microfibre cloths such as the E-Cloth means that the need for products is reduced bringing the cost of cleaning down even more.
- Efficiency: Quite simply and in my opinion; natural products do the job as well as and if not better than traditional cleaning products!
- Environmental - The phrase on everybody's lips is 'climate change' if ordinary cleaning products are contributing to climate change then it is important to use environmentally friendly products for cleaning. There are a number of ways that traditional cleaning products can damage the environment; for example;
Wastage: My Eco cleaning kit does not contain many products. In fact it is 3! 1 x multi purpose that I have created using Lavender essential oil (which has anti bacterical properties as well as smelling great), 1 x Vinegar solution, (please see separate blog on The wonders of Vinegar! for explanations of why I love vinegar so much!) 1 x toilet cleaner (I use a brand called Bio-D). I then have a number of different micro fibre cloths. If you look under your sink, I am sure you have a number of different products for all sorts of different things. One for bathrooms, one for kitchens, one for glass, one for wood, and so on. This is damaging for the environment as it creates lots of waste containers. What I tend to do is minimise my cleaning kit and then refill my empties with new product when I am finished. (If you want us to create you your very own Green Clean Cleaning kit please Contact Us and we can organise you an Eco Friendly Cleaning kit today. (Price £9.99, kit includes 1 x Multi purpose, 1 x vinegar, 1 x toilet cleaner, 1 x multi purpose cloth and full instruction re products, You can purchase individual products for £2).
Pollution: Consider all the chemicals that are used in traditional cleaners? Think about the pollution that these cleaners create. For example, consider the disposal of these cleaners and also the environmental cost in the creation of them. Every time you use these chemicals you are running the risk of contaminating the waterways and causing air pollution.
Recycled packaging: When I am buying eco products, for example the toilet cleaner that I buy, I look and see whether the packaging is made from recycled materials and whether it is further recyclable or biodegradable.
Everything I have said in this blog has been taken from research I have done from books and websites, it is not gospel and I cannot guarantee that it is accurate, please do some more of your own research to come to your own conclusion about Eco Cleaning.
However, the way I see it is that if there is an environmentally friendly alternative to cleaning that is viable, cheap and efficient then why not do it.