Photo  Vladimir Voronin 

By choosing eco-friendly cleaning products you are helping to reduce pollution, clean up our waterways and create a less-toxic environment.

There are a lot of cleaning products out there that contain ingredients that are both harmful to the environment and to you and your family. They contain chemicals that are not biodegradable and so pollute our waterways, oceans, and soil. These same chemicals can cause a myriad of health problems for you and your children. Chemicals from cleaning products have been linked to everything from eczema and asthma to serious chronic illnesses and even cancers.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

To make sure you’re buying genuine eco-friendly products, they need to be made of biodegradable ingredients and be non-toxic. They also need to be free of the big nasties – phosphates, parabens, NPE (nonylphenol ethoxylate) and optical brighteners. Also, look for products that are made of biodegradable packaging. Plastic packaging can take hundreds of years to break down – if at all.

Don’t be fooled by the word ‘green’ on labels. Some companies might dupe consumers into thinking their products are eco-friendly just by including the word ‘green’ on their packaging. But, unless they contain biodegradable, eco-friendly ingredients, they are not the real deal.

SOME OF THE BAD GUYS:

Ammonia – vapours can irritate the eyes, throat, lungs and skin and is particularly bad for asthmatics. It can also cause kidney and liver damage.

Benzalkonium chloride – Causes eye and skin irritations, causes bacterial resistance and is highly toxic to aquatic organisms

NPE (nonylphenol ethoxylate) – this nasty mimics estrogen and is an enocrine disruptor that can affect reproduction and even cause learning disabilities and birth defects

Optical brighteners – these cause allergic reactions and skin irritations. They are also highly toxic to fish, plants and animals and don’t biodegrade easily, staying in water for an indefinite period of time

Parabens – these chemicals accumulate in the body over time and have been linked to cancers and fertility issues

Phosphates – When released into the water, they can cause an accelerated growth of algae which depletes the oxygen supply in water, thereby causing the death of fish and aquatic organisms

Sodium hydroxide – this is a respiratory irritant and is highly corrosive – it can burn the eyes, skin and lungs. Long-term exposure (in the air) can lead to chronic skin irritation and ulceration of the nasal passages.

Triclosan – interferes with healthy hormonal development and causes bacterial resistance

MAKE YOUR OWN

You’d be surprised at how effective homemade cleaning products are. Even better, you can make them with ingredients you already have at home or can easily buy at the supermarket.

Vinegar – it’s excellent for cleaning windows and clove oil is fabulous for treating mould. You can make your own shower and bathroom spray to clean tiles using vinegar and clove oil.

Bicarbonate soda – it can be used for everything from killing mould to deodorising your fridge, unblocking drains and cleaning bathtubs and sinks. Make a thick paste with a little water and about a quarter of a cup of bicarb. Use to wipe down surfaces then clean with a damp cloth. For stinky or clogged sinks, pour a quarter of a cup of bicarb down the drain then follow with half a cup of vinegar. For an all-purpose cleaning spray, mix orange peel, salt, vinegar and distilled water.

OUR PICK: GREEN CLEANING PRODUCTS TO BUY

This story was first published in Home & Decor January 2016