So you want to keep your home clean but you don’t want to use harsh chemicals? Considering that some of these things meant to clean can be toxic, some of them can even lead to cancer. Keeping your home clean and staying green is possible.

Maintaining a clean home without resorting to harsh chemicals is not only possible but also highly beneficial for both, your health, and the environment. The concern about the toxicity of many conventional cleaning products, including their potential links to serious health issues like cancer, is a valid one. By opting for green cleaning methods, you can achieve a spotless home while avoiding these harmful substances. This approach ensures that you’re not only keeping your living space pristine but also safeguarding your health and contributing positively to the well-being of our planet.

There are multiple reasons why cleaning green is better. It’s not just for our own health but the health of our planet. The advantages of green cleaning include:

  • Minimizing the volume of waste that ends up in landfills
  • Preventing the introduction of strong chemicals into water systems
  • Eliminating the use of chemicals that are either toxic or corrosive

Often, when people think about how to clean green, they remember the basics that involves using substances like vinegar and employing tools such as microfiber cloths. In this discussion, we aim to provide a deeper understanding of the strengths and limitations of these and other essential green cleaning tools and ingredients.

How to Clean With Vinegar

Vinegar, a common household item, serves as a key component in green cleaning, offering specific benefits and limitations:

Vinegar’s Sanitizing Capabilities

Vinegar, particularly distilled white vinegar mixed with water, can significantly reduce the presence of organisms on surfaces. Philip Tierno, Ph.D., a clinical professor of microbiology and pathology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, acknowledges its effectiveness in reducing, but not completely eliminating, germs from surfaces like countertops.

Vinegar’s Limitations in Disinfection

Disinfection, which involves killing nearly all microbes on a surface, is not a strong suit of vinegar. According to Jason Tetro, a microbiologist and author of “The Germ Code,” vinegar, especially in its undiluted form, falls short in this aspect. Its efficacy diminishes with the addition of water.

Guidelines for Using Vinegar in Cleaning

Vinegar diluted with water can be used safely on various surfaces such as certain kitchen and bathroom countertops, glass, and even in washing machines. However, caution is advised against using it on:

  •  marble
  • granite
  • stone
  • wood

The vinegar’s acidity can damage these surfaces.

Pro Tip: Try adding baking soda to your vinegar spray bottle to help lift stubborn grime, creating a bubbling action that aids in cleaning.

Using Essential Oils

Essential oils play a unique role in green cleaning, providing pleasant scents and some antibacterial properties, though with certain limitations:

Adding Fresh Scent to Your Cleaning Solutions

Essential oils can make vinegar-based cleaning solutions more enjoyable, particularly for those new to eco-friendly cleaning practices. Becky Rapinchuk, a cleaning expert and author, suggests using essential oils that are “100 percent pure,” like those from Plant Therapy, to ensure they are free from unnecessary additives.

Essential Oils: Limitations in Germ-Killing

While some essential oils like clove and cinnamon have shown antibacterial properties, they are not sufficient to act as the sole sanitizing agent in DIY cleaning solutions. For a more effective natural disinfectant, Philip Tierno recommends looking for products with thyme oil as the active ingredient, which goes beyond mere sanitization.

Tips for Cleaning with Essential Oils

For a completely natural cleaning approach, adding the top layer of an orange or lemon peel (avoiding the bitter pith) to a spray bottle of vinegar and water can infuse a pleasant aroma. This method provides a natural way to enhance the scent of your cleaning solution without relying on synthetic fragrances.

These guidelines offer insights into how essential oils can be incorporated into green cleaning routines, both for their pleasant scents and their limited antibacterial capabilities.

Using Chlorine Bleach Correctly

Chlorine bleach is a potent disinfectant widely used in cleaning, especially in situations requiring thorough sanitization. Here’s how to use it effectively and safely:

The Disinfecting Power of Bleach

Bleach is unparalleled among DIY solutions for its disinfecting ability. Charles MacPherson, the author of “The Pocket Butler’s Guide to Good Housekeeping,” acknowledges its importance even in predominantly green cleaning routines. For disinfecting surfaces, especially after illness or handling raw meat, specific dilutions are recommended: use ⅓ cup of bleach per gallon of water for general disinfecting, and 1 tablespoon per gallon specifically after handling raw meat.

Bleach Kills Bacteria Instantly? Maybe Not

Despite its effectiveness, bleach does not kill germs instantly. It requires several minutes to be effective. After applying a water-and-bleach solution, it’s crucial to let the surface air dry for at least 10 minutes before wiping it off, to ensure proper disinfection.

Guidelines for Using Bleach in Cleaning

While bleach can be harmful in high concentrations, occasional household use in diluted form is generally safe. It’s important to never mix bleach with vinegar, as this combination can produce harmful gases.

Nonchlorine bleach, typically using hydrogen peroxide, is a milder option for stain lifting from clothing. However, it’s important to note that nonchlorine bleach products are not registered as disinfectants with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Understanding these aspects of using chlorine bleach can help ensure effective and safe cleaning practices, especially in situations requiring stringent disinfection.

How to Clean with Steam

Steam cleaning, utilizing superheated vapor, is an effective and chemical-free method for sanitization and cleaning:

Sanitizing with Steam

As Donna Smallin Kuper, a certified housecleaning technician, points out, steam is an excellent green cleaning option since it only uses water. The high temperatures generated by steam are capable of significantly reducing bacteria by incinerating them. Additionally, the hot moisture helps loosen embedded dirt and grime, reducing the need for physical scrubbing.

Limitations of Steam Cleaning

However, steam cleaning isn’t suitable for all surfaces. On painted surfaces like walls and furniture, steam can cause peeling. It can also lead to buckling or warping on surfaces like brick, marble, and wood, making it less versatile than some other cleaning methods.

Effective Use of Steam in Cleaning

For safe and effective steam cleaning, floor tiles are a great candidate. Handheld steam cleaners, such as Bissell’s Steam Shot Handheld Hard Surface Steam Cleaner, can be used on sealed countertops, glass shower doors, and even mattresses. Steam cleaning is particularly beneficial for allergy sufferers, as it helps eliminate dust mites, a common allergen.

Incorporating steam into your cleaning routine can offer a potent, environmentally friendly way to sanitize and clean various surfaces, though it’s important to be mindful of the material limitations to avoid damage.

Using Microfiber Cloths

Microfiber cloths, known for their effectiveness in cleaning, have specific advantages and environmental considerations:

Microfiber: Effective Cleaning Tool

Microfiber cloths, composed of extremely fine synthetic fibers, excel in picking up debris more efficiently than paper towels or cotton rags. They are particularly effective for leaving windows streak-free, in contrast to cotton rags that may leave lint.

Microfiber Cloths Environmental Impact

A notable downside of microfiber cloths is their non-biodegradability. During washing, they can release tiny plastic strands into waterways, contributing to pollution. To mitigate this, installing a device like Filtrol in your washing machine can help capture these fibers, reducing environmental impact from not just microfiber cloths but all laundry.

Alternative Sustainable Options

For a more environmentally friendly alternative, consider using cellulose-cotton cloths like DII Swedish dishcloths. These cloths share the reusability feature of microfiber cloths but have the added advantage of being biodegradable once they wear out.

Understanding these aspects of microfiber cloths can guide more environmentally conscious choices in cleaning methods and materials.

When to Use Disposable Wipes

Disposable wipes, while convenient for disinfection, come with environmental considerations:

Effective and Convenient Disinfection

Disposable wipes are highly convenient and effective at killing viruses and bacteria within seconds. They are versatile, being useful in the kitchen, bathroom, or car, and are often available in easily storable canisters.

Environmental Concerns

A major drawback of most disposable wipes is that they are not biodegradable. They can contribute to clogging sewer systems, as highlighted by the discovery of a massive “fatberg” in a London sewer, comprising solid waste like wipes and cooking grease.

Guidance on Using Disposable Wipes

Disposable wipes may be suitable for situations requiring immediate disinfection, such as cleaning up after someone with a contagious illness like the flu. However, for routine cleaning, it’s more environmentally friendly to opt for reusable cloths without disinfectant, as they offer a sustainable alternative without contributing to environmental waste.

This information underscores the importance of balancing the convenience of disposable wipes with environmental sustainability, especially for routine cleaning tasks.

How to Use Cleaning Products Containing Anti-Microbial Triclosan

Using antibacterial products containing Triclosan involves considering their intended benefits and potential risks.

Antibacterial Products with Triclosan

Triclosan is an antimicrobial chemical that has been added to personal care products like hand soap and toothpaste for decades to combat bacterial contamination. It is also found in some cleaning cloths, towels, and mops, where its primary function is to kill microbes.

Limitations and Safety Concerns

Some studies have raised concerns about Triclosan’s potential to make bacteria resistant to antibiotics. This is a significant concern because antibiotics are crucial for treating various diseases. Due to these concerns, the FDA banned the use of Triclosan in certain soaps, as it couldn’t rule out the possibility of long-term public health risks associated with its use.

Choosing Safer Cleaning Products

To address concerns about antibacterial products with Triclosan, consumers can take several steps:

  • Check product labels to ensure they do not contain Triclosan.
  • Some companies like Procter & Gamble and SC Johnson provide ingredient information online.
  • Consider researching products on third-party websites like or using apps like Think Dirty, Shop Clean to assess their safety.
  • Look for products with certifications like the Green Seal, Greenguard, or EPA’s SaferChoice logo, as these indicate safer options for both people and the environment.

These considerations can help individuals make informed choices when using antibacterial products containing Triclosan, taking into account potential safety risks and alternatives.

How You Can Waste Less

You’ve already begun the journey to green cleaning, making the choice to cut back on using disposable wipes. Here’s another tip, focus on how many bottles of cleaners are under your sink and think about what you need and what you can live without. You may want to consider using up what you already have, or give them to a friend or neighbor who may want to finish them. Once the bottles are empty, you can thoroughly clean them and later fill them with your own green cleaning solutions.

Remember to recycle whatever you can. Be sure to check with your communities recycling program on how to dispose of various types of plastics or aerosols.

Professional Green Cleaning

Looking for top-notch green cleaning services in Seattle? Look no further than Green Cleaning Seattle! With over 15 years of professional green cleaning experience, they’re your go-to choice for eco-friendly cleaning solutions. Contact Green Cleaning Seattle today and let them help you achieve your green cleaning dreams while keeping your space clean and environmentally friendly.

Click here for your free quote.