Green cleaning products no home should be without

Green Cleaning Products No Home Should Be Without

The search for “Green” Cleaning Products

How many times have we seen TV commercials advertising cleaning products that promise to make our lives easier? The choices are almost endless. Add to that the challenge of finding “green” cleaning products that live up to what they promise. We may be looking for products that are naturally derived, free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and that don’t harm the environment. More and more manufacturers are claiming to provide these benefits and more, while still doing the job of cleaning your home.

Green Cleaning Products

But there’s another option for consumers looking for earth-friendly products. Most of the time, you need not look further than your kitchen cabinets to find products and ingredients that can clean while not harming the environment. Here are just a few examples:

    • Baking Soda – It’s not just for baking anymore. Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a fine white powder with a pH of 9 that is found in products like toothpaste and deodorant. But it also makes a great cleaning product when mixed with water to make a paste. It is just as effective as commercial cleaning powders, while saving money. In a pinch, you can even use your favorite whitening toothpaste to clean ceramic surfaces in the kitchen and bath. You can polish stainless steel appliances safely without scratching them. You can also add a few tablespoons to your wash cycle to sweeten clothing. You could say that baking soda has 101 uses.
    • Lemon Juice – A great citrus fruit that’s popular in salad dressings, cocktails, and as an emulsifier in Hollandaise sauce, it contains about 5% citric acid. This gives it a very low pH (2-3). Its high Vitamin C content makes it a popular ingredient in brightening serums. But did you know that lemon juice can help kill germs? Add a few drops of lemon oil to castile soap or dishwashing liquid and clean as usual. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can create your own furniture polish. Just mix .2 oz lemon oil with 8 oz. of melted beeswax or candelilla wax. Cool and apply to furniture with a clean cloth in a circular motion.
    • White Vinegar – This product, which contains acetic acid, should be bought by the gallon. It is great for everything from removing clothing stains (avoid with delicates) to cleaning product buildup from your hair. But did you know that white vinegar is great for cleaning the toilet? Just pour and let it sit for about 2 hours before brushing the bowl clean. It is also great for neutralizing stains and odors in your coffee maker. Of course, who hasn’t used it as a window cleaner? Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to 2 cups of water in a spray bottle.
    • Hydrogen Peroxide – Found in most medicine cabinets and hair color salons, hydrogen peroxide is another versatile product that cleans and disinfects. An active ingredient in the OxyClean family of products and many whitening toothpastes, it lifts stains from colored clothing without bleaching. Combined with baking soda, it is great for brightening sinks and tubs. Spray onto kitchen counters to disinfect. (Always check with the manufacturer before using on stone countertops or appliances. If skin is sensitive, use gloves.) The by-products of oxidation are oxygen and water. It doesn’t get any more earth-friendly than that.

    The next time you’re tempted to run out and purchase the latest toilet bowl cleaner, remember that you just might have what you need at home right now. There’s no time like the present to begin living clean.

What is lurking in your yoga mat?

What Is Lurking In Your Yoga Mat?

The question of what is lurking in your yoga mat may not have come across your mind recently. After all, yogis are into their practice, and give only a passing thought to what they are sitting on. As a woman who tends to perspire profusely during and after a workout, I tend to want to keep my mat (and other equipment) as clean as possible without  adding to my body’s burden of chemicals. And a recent article published in Environmental Health Perspectives demonstrating a link between the use of flame retardants in plastic yoga mats and fertility outcomes raised some concerns. Another study found pathogenic bacteria in large quantities on yoga mats that were not regularly cleaned. Considering how many times my face and hands touch my mat, this gave me pause. So what’s a practitioner to do? Let’s begin by looking at the types of mats out there.

Types of Yoga Mats

  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)  – PVC mats often had plasticizers added, which increased the number of chemicals (namely lead, dioxin, and phthalates) employed in their manufacture. All of these chemicals are of known toxicity. These mats are not earth-friendly or biodegradable. Some mats may also contain latex, which some are allergic to.
  • Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE), which is a more environmental and health friendly  alternative. TPE is a combination of rubber and plastic and is said to be biodegradable and recyclable.
  • Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA), thinner than PVC and TPE, considered less toxic than PVC. Its manufacture does not require the use of a plasticizer like PVC, and is BPA-free. It is acceptable for use in baby products like teethers and in shoe soles.
  • Natural Latex Rubber – A naturally derived product extracted from rubber trees. It tends to be thicker and heavier than the other materials, and can take longer to dry when washed. It also contains latex, so those who are allergic to this material should avoid it. It is a more biodegradable and chemical-free alternative to synthetic materials. Just remember that it can degrade in sunlight or with the use of certain essential oils.
  • Nitrile Butadiene Rubber (NBR) – A synthetic rubber-like compound (what nitrile gloves are made of).
  • Natural Cork – While sustainably sourced, they may not be as “sticky” when dry, necessitating spraying before use. They look beautiful and are a little more expensive.
  • Organic cotton/jute – The most natural and earth-friendly alternative. They can be a little scratchy, but provide sufficient friction. Some can be put in the wash. These can also be more expensive.

Given all of the alternatives out there, it behooves us to ask the right questions and find out how companies manufacture their mats if you want to avoid harmful out-gassing of chemicals from your yoga mat.

Cleaning your Yoga Mat

Specific yoga mat cleaners are available, but it’s really easy to make one yourself from 3 parts water and 1 part vinegar to which a few drops of essential oil are added. (This is less drying than rubbing alcohol.) Tea Tree, Lavender and Eucalyptus are favorites. Let dry in a well-ventilated area.

Let’s find out what’s lurking in our yoga mats and take steps to stay healthy and buy earth-friendly products. Namaste!

Article in about PVC and TPE mats
Article in re: what you need to know