You’ve heard it before. Most cleaners are not people friendly. And like me, you probably think okay, I’ll switch to green cleaning products once its gone.
Then your partner comes home with more of the same. The cleaner gets put back on the shelf and forgotten about. You keep them out of the kids reach. You don’t mix cleaners. All is good right?
But, how do you know all is good when it comes to your cleaning routine?
Every once in awhile, we need a kick in the butt (including me). Not surprisingly, based on my past life as an Environmental Protection Officer, I really like conducting audits. They are easy, can be made fun and it really helps you get a handle on what chemicals are in your space so you can improve indoor air pollution.
Let me take you through a cleaning product audit so we can get you on your way to cleaning green.
How To Perform A Household Cleaners Audit
Step One: Do your research beforehand.
It’s not a lot of work. Head over to the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning and peruse the database to get an idea of what information is contained within.
They have a decoder section to translate the trade slang for you. For example, why “do not induce vomiting” is used on some labels.
I encourage you to read the EWG’s methodology in order to understand the rankings. There is a lot of valuable information as to why the cleaning guide is important, what the ratings mean and how ratings were assigned.
Step Two: Set aside the time.
I recommend blocking out a couple hours, depending on the extent of your audit (indoors, outdoors, both).
If you have children, a sitter, kid share or another option to get them out of the house is a good plan as you don’t want kids in the middle of the chemical pile. If you have a teenager, it might be a good life skill for them to learn.
Step Three: Bring them all together.
Go through your house and collect all the items in a common area.
An area with good ventilation (open the windows if you can) is always good idea for this process. In fact, opening your windows while cleaning is always healthy idea since all cleaners (even the green ones) are a surprising sources of indoor air pollution.
Step Four: To sort or not to sort.
Here you can be creative with how to mark what stays, what needs to be taken to your local hazardous waste recycling drop off and can be recycled or thrown out. If you have a couple spare bins or boxes around the use, they make good sorting tools.
Step Five: Assess your products!
Make sure you have the handy EWG Guide to Cleaning database available and search it for each of your cleaning products.
If you find one not listed, put it aside to go back to later. You can use the keywords or ingredient list to compare to the decoder section of the guide.
The database ranks the toxicity of the cleaners from A to F, with A being the least toxic of the cleaners. Their scoring assessment is really complicated, but all available on the site.
If you have items rating a C or lower, I would really consider why you would want to keep them. You are the judge on whether to keep or remove from your house.
Step Six: A place for everything.
If there are poison, corrosive, flammable, explosive symbols (think WHIMS), do not throw in the garbage; these need to be disposed of safely. You’ll need to check with your city or town to find out where you can drop off your hazardous waste (crazy that some of these items are classified as such).
While you are there, make sure you take any dead batteries, used CFL light bulbs (they contain mercury) electronic waste (TVs, VCRs, anything that uses batteries or electricity that is no longer in use/broken) along with you!
Once you’ve completed your audit and properly disposed of the items you no longer want in your house, the EWG has a list of what they feel are the greenest of the green cleaning products to help you decide what you want.
Make Your Own Green Cleaning Products
A little elbow grease with diluted vinegar or a baking soda paste work pretty good without the fuss of searching for the greener cleaners. Plus, you can look through our list of green cleaning recipes. Here are a few of our favourites:
Castile soap recipes for your cleaning your home
A simple homemade laundry soap you can make while watching Netflix
My question to you is, when will you make a date with yourself to check out your cleaning products and swap them for green cleaners?