To reduce the carbon emissions from cleaning our homes we need to think differently about what we do. Here are some ideas.

Use less cleaning stuff

  • Do you need any cleaner? Windows can be cleaned with a water and newspaper.
  • Do you need to clean as often? Kitchens and bathrooms need to be hygienic but frequent cleaning of other rooms may be unnecessary so give yourself a break! Microfibre cloths work well with only water, collect dust, and are excellent for cleaning windows.
  • You can use the microwave to target germs. The washing sponge and kitchen cloth are two of the most used tools in the kitchen, and they are also two of the most germs-filled tools you can in the kitchen. Putting your wet kitchen sponge or rag into the microwave for 2 minutes at full power mode can kill about 99% of the living pathogens. (Must be wet to avoid fires. Take care not to scald yourself)

Use natural cleaners

  • The most natural cleaning materials are white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda.
  • Vinegar, because of its acidic and mild anti-bacteria properties, can be used for many cleaning purposes and cleans hard water deposits.
  • Bicarbonate of soda is excellent for white goods, cookers and kitchen surfaces and removes foul smells from dry carpets (just sprinkle, wait, and then vacuum). Baking soda in warm water can also be used to clean silver (when the silver is in contact with a piece of aluminum foil), and even soften fabric in your laundry. When used together with vinegar, it can unclog drains.
  • Lemon is also useful. Essential oils like lavender and tea tree oil have anti-bacterial qualities. So they can be used to replace conventional air freshener

If you buy cleaners …

  • Avoid oil based products. Buy cleaning materials that are not oil based.
  • Think about product and packaging. Efficient packaging (light weight), and concentrates have a lower transport carbon cost. Recycled and recyclable packaging and refillable bottles all reduce carbon cost. Clear labeling and information on use and disposal can save waste.
  • Save energy from heating. Consider products effective at lower temperatures.
  • Choose eco friendly products. Eco-friendly home cleaning products usually contain natural ingredients that break down rapidly after use or pose less harm to humans and the environment as compared to conventional cleaning products.
  • Beware of marketing and spin. Labels like “eco”, “environmentally friendly”, “biodegradable” and “natural” may not necessarily be a good guide to which are most environmentally friendly.
  • Some chemicals are harmful to health, Avoid 2-Butoxyethanol, Ammonia, Chlorofluorocarbon, Chlorine, Ethanolamines, Formaldehyde, Glycol Ethers, Petroleum distillates, Phosphates, Phthalates. These are not good for the environment or health.
  • Buy from a business you trust. Consumers can also look at the strategic priorities and policy directions of the organizations producing the cleaning products in question this could give consumers a sense of the authenticity of the product labels and information provided by the organizations. 

Downloadable PDF on Cleaning and Paint