Gear up for green cleaning
all the rooms in your home with these ten eco-friendly tools. Plus, discover some helpful tips to make your cleaning easier and more efficient.
1. BucketsGreat for soaking clothes, mopping floors, and general cleaning, a bucket or two is essential. Stainless steel is very eco-friendly, but heavy, whereas buckets made with recycled plastic are a little easier to tote around.
2. Brooms and DustpansA good old-fashioned, corn whisk broom and a steel dustpan will keep you green cleaning for years to come. Other options are brooms made of sustainably harvested wood or recycled steel handles with microfiber or cotton cloth heads that can easily be removed and washed. Tip: For a green solution to brooms that use disposable cloths, try rags instead. Then wash and reuse them for future use.
Organic cotton, bamboo, microfiber
, and natural cellulose cloths are great for general cleaning and the latter three are a perfect alternative to paper towels due to their absorbent abilities. Bamboo even has natural antibacterial qualities to boot! All are biodegradable, except for microfiber; however, it does have its “green” benefits, such as the fact that fewer chemicals are required when cleaning with it. Also, it has been shown to be superior in picking up bacteria according to a 2010 scientific study
, although over time it loses its efficacy and cotton is more effective. Tip
: Make your own cleaning cloths from organic cotton baby diapers, flannel, or old cut-up T-shirts.
4. DustersDitch dust with extendable-handle ostrich feather, New-Zealand wool, or microfiber dusters. Note: Ostrich feathers are acquired during molting season and New Zealand wool tends to be farmed more ethically than Australian Merino wool. Tips: (1) Wash your feather duster by swishing it in cool, soapy water and then submerging it in a bucket of cool water to rinse it. Dry feather side up or use a blow dryer to fluff it up. (2) Don’t use fabric softener when cleaning microfiber dusters. (3) Vacuum wool dusters to keep them clean between washings with water and a gentle, eco-friendly detergent.
5. MopsNatural cellulose, microfiber, and cotton are some of your green choices. Cellulose and cotton are biodegradable, whereas microfiber is not; however, mopping with microfiber requires less water and it cleans the cracks between floor boards and tile joints well. Tip: Dry cotton string mops thoroughly between uses to prevent mold and mildew build-up.
Newspapers are great for cleaning windows and the occasional spill. Toss them into the compost
bin when you are done! Tip:
When cleaning vinyl window edges use a cloth and save the newspaper for the glass; otherwise, some of the ink might smudge on the vinyl.
Cellulose and sea sponges are two earth-friendly choices to suds up with. Cellulose sponges are biodegradable and often made from plant-based fibers. Look for ones that are free of plastics, dyes, and added antimicrobial “benefits,” which may mean they contain Triclosan
, an ingredient to avoid. Some sponges contain a natural “scrubby” side or are enveloped in a mesh made of natural materials, such as walnut shells or agave fibers, respectively. Sea sponges that are ethically and sustainably harvested are another option since they are all natural and biodegradable. Tip
: Disinfect your sponges in the top rack of the dishwasher or a pot of boiling water.
8. Scrubbing and Scouring ToolsWhen it comes to scrubbing and scouring, you have many natural eco-friendly choices: stainless steel scouring pads (great for steel pots and pans and they won’t rust), pumice stones (perfect for scouring away built-up mineral deposits in toilets), loofah sponges (useful for all-purpose scrubbing), natural-bristle or recycled plastic brushes, and old toothbrushes (handy for detailed cleaning around fixtures). Tip: Slice a loofah sponge cross-wise to create several scrubbers.
9. Steam Cleaners
What could be greener than cleaning with the power of steam? Well, maybe some “elbow grease” and natural green cleaning solution, but steam cleaners are great for their ability to eliminate bacteria, zap viruses, and do what elbow grease can’t – kill dust mites according to a scientific study
published in Clinical Experimental Allergy: Journal of the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology
. They are especially useful for tough cleaning jobs, like cutting through grease and burnt-on foods in the oven and loosening sticky, dirty patches from surfaces. A 2007 scientific study
published in the Journal of Food Protection
showed steam cleaners were effective at killing salmonella.
10. VacuumsKeeping your floors and upholstery dust, dirt, and allergen free is essential to keeping a clean and green home. The “greenest” vacuums are bag-less and feature recycled plastic construction, washable HEPA filters, and low energy requirements. Other features to consider are models that come in recycled packaging and are lightweight.