Ask Eartha: 5 eco-friendly products to tidy your house for winter
Dear Eartha, as we begin to close doors and hunker down with snow and cold temperatures setting in, what cleaning products can we use to clear away summer dust and germs without making the house smell like bleach or vinegar for several weeks?
There is no shortage of green cleaning supplies on the market, many of which have been certified by the Environmental Protection Agency. But for certain purposes and surfaces, some products work (and smell) better than others. Before you use any product, make sure you check on the specific sensitivities of your floors and countertops, as even natural cleaning ingredients can do damage. For example, the ever-popular vinegar can stain and wear down hardwood floors and rock-based countertops.
Here’s a few choice cleaners – including some that are renowned and a couple that may not have crossed your radar – and where to use them.
Hardwood floors: Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner
If you’re someone whose wood floor rarely gets more than a light brush throughout the summer when muddy and snowy feet aren’t an issue, it’s probably overdue for a pre-winter wipe down. Not only does Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner remove allergens that seep into wood-floor planks in the warmer months – many of which are virtually invisible – it’s one of six Bona cleaners that recently received the EPA’s Safer Choice certification, all of which are made with plant-derived, water-based, biodegradable ingredients free of parabens, formaldehyde, ammonia, phthalates and phosphates.
Carpets: Nature’s Miracle
Heads up, dog and cat households: This EPA-registered lineup of pet-oriented cleaners has ramped up its offerings with all-purpose, all-surface sprays that destroy 99.9% of bacteria as well as feline and canine viruses. Having debuted well ahead of the eco-friendly bandwagon — Nature’s Miracle has been around for about 40 years — its carpet shampoo effectively deep cleans old and new stains out of carpet fibers, either manually when used with hot water or with a steam cleaner. Missing the harsh chemicals of other deep cleaning brands, the shampoo can also be used on furniture and upholstery without causing colors to fade.
Bathrooms and glass: Green Llama
Available online only and masterminded by an earth-loving couple of medical specialists in Tennessee, Green Llama’s first goal was to do its part in eliminating single-use plastic bottles. The company came up with a winning formula of ingredients that could ship in lightweight, biodegradable pods of powder that can be mixed with water and used in a recyclable container. All ingredients can be found on the EPA’s Safer Choice list of materials with minimal environmental impacts, and none of them are tested on animals. Options include an all-purpose cleaner ideal for many countertop and floor types, a bathroom cleaner that leaves tile glistening and fragrant and a glass cleaner that takes the summer and fall buildup of window residue off without leaving smudges.
If there’s any pastime that has sky-rocketed like none other over the last 19 months of pandemic living, it’s doing dishes. Dish soap ranks among the most-used household cleaners in the world, and its potentially harsh chemicals, even from a landfill, can end up infiltrating rivers, creeks, streams, plants and trees. Made with plant-based ingredients like grease-fighting green tea and lime, Puracy is all-vegan. It also includes ingredients like coconut oil and aloe vera, so it’s also skin-friendly, which is especially alluring as hands and fingers begin to crack along with the cold weather. The brand also makes a fantastic laundry detergent.
All-purpose: Meliora Gentle Home Cleaning Scrub
There are all sorts of natural mixes out there that can be safely used on multiple surfaces in the home, including do-it-yourself concoctions of baking soda and vinegar, but this product was created by an environmental engineer who is hyperconscious about what goes down her drain. Described as all-vegan and “people-friendly,” its tea tree oil scent makes everything smell fresh. In addition to all surfaces in kitchens and bathrooms, it works on stainless steel and ceramics.
“Ask Eartha Steward” is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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