Eartha Steward: Green cleaning tips |

Eartha Steward: Green cleaning tips

by Eartha Steward

Spring cleaning is just around the corner and I am already itching to give my house a good clean! Contrary to what most believe, you don’t have to use strong, bleach-powered chemicals to make your house dirt and germ free. In fact, there are a ton of new, healthy products, natural remedies and even some ol’ grandma secrets to a clean and fresh-smelling house without the scary side effects.

I wholeheartedly support making the switch from smelly, toxic cleaners to something that doesn’t hurt your nose, lungs or the environment. Did you know that most of the conventional cleaning products you find at the store these days are made from petroleum products that really do cause damage to our bodies? From phosphates to formaldehyde, many cleaners have nasty synthetic chemicals that should never be applied to places we eat, sleep and play.

Most consumers genuinely care about whether or not a product is safe for the family. I was listening to NPR the other day and I heard that researchers have determined the number one reason why people buy “green” is not because of the environment, but because it’s healthier for their families. It seems that environmental benefits are just bonus!

The problem is, there is a lot of greenwashing and plain old marketing scams that, quite frankly, lie to the customer about what’s healthy for the people and the planet. Greenwashing or the misleading use of labels on cleaning products makes me angry. In reality, terms like natural, nontoxic, environmentally friendly, and biodegradable carry no technical or legal definition. “Nontoxic” cleaners aren’t necessarily toxic-free or good for you.

You, as the consumer, have to be careful of greenwashing and false claims on labels. You must read the small print and look for hints like “hazardous,” “caution,” and “contains harmful fumes.” If you see dozens of ingredients that you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce, it’s probably not good for you or the environment.

There are truly organic cleaning products that don’t carry misleading labels or scream cleaning cautions. I advise doing your homework and researching various products online. Always ask questions! The Environmental Defense Fund offers information about specific common chemicals and ingredients at You should also check out the Green Cleaning section on our website –

One of the most expensive things I’ve happily eliminated from my shopping list is cleaning products. In one day, I managed to spend $75 on cleaning products for my bathroom, kitchen, windows and floors. You should try making your own green cleaning products! Homemade recipes use affordable ingredients. Not only will you know exactly what is added to your product, you’ll save money.

Green cleaning recipes are my specialty. I love to mix and match various recipes and they often do as good of job (sometimes better) than conventional products. My favorite basic products to use are baking-soda, borax, white vinegar and lemon juice, just to name a few. All of these items are very cheap especially when you buy in bulk. I make all of my household cleaners that last at least a year for less than $10.

Homemade green cleaners can be intimidating when you first look at the recipes. Once you start, it’s quick and easy and like cooking, there’s room to tweak your recipes for better creations. Tonight, there’s a Secrets to Green Cleaning workshop at the High Country Conservation Center (518 Main Street in Frisco). Come learn about safe products you can use to make green cleaning recipes of your own. Join us for this hands-on workshop from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The workshop is $10 and you will receive the newest version of Eartha Steward’s Green Cleaning Guide. Please RSVP by calling (970) 668-5703.

Eartha Steward is written by Jennifer Santry and Erin Makowsky at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation in our mountain community. Submit questions to Eartha at

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