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15 of the Worst Green Cleaning Mistakes Most People Make
If you are like a lot of people, you have decided to ditch those toxic cleaning substances, and you are to be congratulated! It’s easy to pop down to the supermarket and pick up some all-purpose cleanser, but it takes some time, thought, and effort to mix up your own green cleaning solutions.
However, going green is not all sunshine, roses, and vinegar. There are pitfalls even with green cleaners. Keep reading and find out if you are making any of these mistakes so that you can keep your family safe and healthy. You might even find that you save a few bucks!
1. Being Too Strong
Many people fail to dilute the lemon juice, vinegar, or other types of natural substances. This can actually cause damage to the item you are trying to clean. On top of that, it’s a waste of money. You don’t need a whole lot of something to clean most items. Follow your label or cleaning recipe instructions for best results.
2. Mixing Vinegar and Soap
Some people decide that they are going to make their own “anti-bacterial” soap by mixing together pure soap, such as Castile soap, and vinegar. Although this isn’t dangerous, what you are going to get is a big, fat mess that does nothing. The acids in vinegar will “un-soaponify” the Castile soap, making it nothing more than a bunch of goo. The last thing you want is to have to clean up after your clean up! Don’t mix vinegar and soap! You can use soap to clean, if you like, and then rinse with vinegar, but don’t mix them.
3. Rushing Things
When you wipe, spray or pour a cleaner onto a surface, allow it to sit and work its magic for at least 2 minutes (5 is better), before you start wiping it off or scrubbing. These few minutes allow the active ingredients to loosen and lift the dirt off. It also allows the disinfectant part of the cleaner to kill germs. Some people like to spray one room, such as the bathroom, then leave and go spray another room, like the kitchen, then go back to the bathroom to start cleaning. This gives the products time to work and means not only a more effective cleaning job, but less work for you!
4. Thinking Natural Cleaners Won’t Hurt Surfaces
Although natural cleaners are a far sight safer than toxic commercial cleaners, that does not mean that they can’t discolor, fade, scratch, or reacting with the surface you are cleaning. Natural stone surfaces, for example, are well-known for being damaged by anything stronger than soap and water. If you have any doubt, always test your cleaner on a small spot before using. Much better to take a few minutes to test out your cleaner than ruining your grandmother’s antique dresser!
5. Using Way Too Much
Are you one of those people who think that if a little bit is good, a whole lot must be better? Well, that might be true of some things (like winning lottery tickets!) but not when it comes to natural cleaning products. Not even water! You don’t need to slosh a bunch of water all over. It only takes more time to dry and increases the risk that some areas won’t fully dry and might grow mold. For most surfaces, it doesn’t take much more than a spritz or two, just enough to dampen the surface, before you wipe it clean.
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6. Using Paper Towels or Disposable Wipes
Although they seem really convenient, they are also a nightmare when it comes to landfills. They are also more expensive and are no safer than using washable sponges, rags, and cleaning cloths. Use cleaning cloths or rags that you can wash after cleaning to really go green and save some serious bucks. If you have a really disgusting or super dirty job, use some old, threadbare rags that you were probably about ready to throw out anyway. Save a tree, wash some rags!
7. Doing Unsafe Acrobatics
What are we talking about here? We mean climbing up on chairs, stepping on the top step of ladders, or balancing yourself on the back of the sofa to reach or clean something. If you have tall ceilings or windows that are high up, buy some taller ladders or cleaning tools with extra-long handles so you can reach those areas safely, without falling and needing to call 911.
8. Sweeping Up After Rodents
No matter how clean we keep our houses, those darn mice, rats, sometimes even raccoons and possums find their ways into our basements, attics, garages, and sheds, and use these places as their own personal bathroom. Although you need to clean up after them to limit exposure to ugly parasites, germs, and downright deadly diseases such as the bubonic plaque and the Hantavirus, the last thing you want to do is to sweep that poop away. Sweeping will kick up dust that can contain those deadly germs and you can breathe those in pretty easily. Instead, put on some rubber gloves and mix 10 parts of water with 1 part of bleach. Soak the area with this mixture for about 5 minutes, then wipe it up with rags or paper towels and seal in a trash bag. Be sure you wash your clothes, the gloves, your shoes, and wash your hands afterwards.
9. Believing Those Labels
If you think that buying a product with the words “green,” “natural,” or “ecofriendly” on the label means that the product is any of those things, think again. There are no real regulations on those words, so companies are pretty much free to say what the like. If the ingredients on the label aren’t clear about what is inside that bottle, make another choice, or make your own. Find out how food labels trick you into eating GMO foods.
10. Mixing Products
Although mixing a couple of cleaners might sound good; it’s actually a good way to create dangerously toxic gasses. Sometimes, such as the previous example of soap and vinegar, you neutralize the cleaning power entirely. Use one product and follow the instructions for best results.
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11. Using Low Quality Essential Oils
Essential oils are great for cleaning and some, such as rosemary, thyme, and lavender, not only smell heavenly, but they are powerful disinfectants. However, this is a case of you get what you pay for. Some venders try to cut corners by using toxic solvents to extract oils, or dilute the oil with a cheaper base oil. Always look for 100 percent organic essential oils that were produced through steam distillation. You will pay a couple bucks more, but it is so worth it!
12. Believing Natural Products Can’t Hurt You
Just because it’s natural does not mean it can’t cause bodily harm. Even arsenic is natural but you won’t see anyone saying that it’s harmless! Natural or nontoxic compounds can burn the eyes, damage skin, and irritate lungs and nasal passages. Wear gloves and be sure the room is well-ventilated.
13. Using Chlorine Bleach
Many people think that it isn’t clean unless it smells like bleach. Although bleach might mean super clean as it does kill germs, but it also kills just about anything else it touches. It can burn your skin, your mucus membranes, and your plants! Bleach can form dangerous gasses when mixed with certain other substances. Just don’t use it, to be safe. Vinegar will kill just as many germs without harming anyone.
14. Not Cleaning Your Humidifier
If you forget to clean your humidifier, or if you don’t clean it regularly, you are asking for mold, viruses, and bacteria to get spewed out all over your home. Yuck! Change the water every single day and scrub out the holding tank at least twice a week.
15. Failure to Store Products Properly
Do you tend to store your homemade cleaning products in that plastic spray bottle? Don’t! Essential oils actually break down plastic over time. Put your cleaners in glass jars or bottles (especially dark colored ones if you can find them) and then put only what you are going to use that day in the plastic spray bottle. Keep everything in a cool, dark place where children can’t get to them. Read about storage ideas without toxic plastic.