Eco Cleaning: a guide to getting started
Are you wanting to adopt a greener approach to your regular cleaning routine, but don't know where to begin?
Or maybe you are feeling a little confused by so much conflicting information online about what is considered eco and what’s not?
Perhaps you’re concerned about the higher cost that is often involved with purchasing more eco-friendly cleaning products and equipment?
If you answered "Yes" to any of the above, then fear not, you are definitely not alone!
.........and the good news is that we, here at Green & Simple, are on hand to help you with this process as something we are really passionate about is demonstrating just how simple and affordable eco cleaning can be. We have been (and still are) on this journey ourselves and on many occasions have answered “Yes” to all of the above questions.
One huge benefit though that has come from running our own eco cleaning business is that we have had the luxury of being able to spend a huge amount of time researching, weighing up the evidence and learning the hard way about products or processes that really do not work! Consequently I’d say we are in a pretty good position to be supporting people on their own eco cleaning journeys.
It also makes us happy to know that we can be of help in some way by sharing with you what we are learning along the way.
We all know that switching to greener ways of cleaning will ultimately be of benefit to our health, our homes and the planet but the truth is, change is never easy and can often be rather overwhelming. We also have the additional pressure of being slap-bang in the middle of a global health crisis, which understandably adds to the fear and uncertainty around using products that we are not familiar with. This second point is something we have really grappled with ourselves and is one of the main reasons we have spent as much time as possible educating ourselves about eco products, how effective they really are and the situations in which they should and should not be used.
They say that “knowledge is power,” which certainly is true when wanting to approach making a change with confidence!
When it comes to making a change with cleaning products or routines, something we are always really keen to stress is the importance of starting simply with what you have.
Take one step at a time and try to avoid focusing on perfection.
We are huge advocates for embracing a perfectly imperfect approach to your eco cleaning journey and taking the time to celebrate any changes that you do make. Any change, however big or small, makes a difference, so try not to focus on switching it all up in a huge way.
It's all about the baby steps!
Working out where to start when making a change of any kind is always hard, which is why it is so easy to fall into the trap of giving up before getting started. This is why I decided to write an article which aims to guide people on where to begin, if they are considering switching to greener ways of cleaning.
In a later post we will discuss products, ingredients and recipes, etc, but for now I thought it might be useful to start with the basics that help to create the foundations for making a positive change.
So without further ado, here's some very small simple steps to consider taking, to help you get started......
1. Waste not want not!
Ok, so first things first.
It’s time to open up that cupboard under the sink and take a look at what (and how many) cleaning products you’ve got hiding under there.
If it’s anything like how our cleaning cupboard used to look, it’ll be packed to the rafters!
I think most of us can admit to having an overflowing cupboard, filled with unopened or half used cleaning products that we mindlessly picked up in the supermarket several years ago when we were drawn in by the latest edition floral fragrance, or by the bold claims jumping out at us from the packaging.
If this sounds familiar, then our suggestion is to find a spare half hour or so and spend this time reacquainting yourselves with all of these products in your cleaning cupboard.
Get everything out, look at what you’ve got, have a good old organise of it all and then make a commitment to using all of these bits up over the coming weeks.
Just whatever you do, don’t throw everything out!
It might be tempting to do this if you’re super enthusiastic about getting started with your new eco cleaning routine but reducing waste (where possible) is a great first step towards being more environmentally friendly.
If there are any products in the cupboard you think you’re unlikely to use, perhaps consider donating these to friends or family. You could put a post on a platform (such as Nextdoor), letting people know that you have products to give away or you could contact small local businesses or charities to see if they would like a cleaning product donation.
Whichever way you go about it, there will always be a way of using up all of these existing products before moving onto building your new (and hopefully smaller) collection or venturing into the exciting DIY cleaning product world.
2. Make a plan
Planning is always a helpful way to get yourself grounded and in the right mindset.
It might sound bizarre, advising on writing a plan for your cleaning routine and what you will buy, but it can be a useful way to help avoid those spur of the moment impulse purchases. If you have a clear idea in your head of what you’re aiming for, it can go a long way in helping to resist the temptation to just buy any old thing because it sounds good or smells delicious.
...and besides, who doesn’t enjoy making a list?
(Or maybe that’s just me).
Making a plan for a lifestyle change, such as eating more healthily, is known to be a useful way to stay on track, so why should it be any different when making a change to your cleaning routine and the products you use? It is after all a fairly big change for many of us, particularly when so many of us have been conditioned to think that overwhelmingly strong and synthetic fragrances indicate cleanliness, and that bleach is the solution to all of our germ-related problems.
A good way to start would be to ask yourself the following questions, and jot down your answers:
What’s my ‘why?’
Are you looking to have a more eco-friendly approach to cleaning for health reasons or for the planet or both? Perhaps you have children or pets and want them to have less exposure to toxins, or you’re looking to reduce your plastic usage, or maybe you’ve had a recent scare with a particularly toxic product.
Whatever your reason, get it down on paper!
What’s my budget?
This is a really important one as cost is often the main reason people are put off by eco-cleaning.
I promise you though, there are many ways to eco-clean on a very small budget, it just takes a bit of pre-planning.
Getting your budget onto paper will be a helpful place to start as you can then tailor your plan and internet search to this.
What/where do I clean the most?
Are you regularly dealing with stained clothes or piles of laundry on a daily basis?
Perhaps you’re someone who is keen to have the kitchen sanitised regularly throughout the day, or maybe you live in a hard water area and are trying to keep on top of limescale build up.
Have a think about this and then you can start to work out what types of products you’ll be needing.
I can guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised by just how few products you really need or just how easy it is to do several cleaning jobs with one product or with ingredients you already have hidden somewhere in your food cupboards!
What do I already have?
You’ll be amazed by how many tools you already have to carry out different tasks.
If you’re about to get a new toothbrush, save the old one!
Have you got any pumice stone lying around? Don’t throw these away as they are really effective at removing stubborn limescale build up in the toilet bowl.
Any old lemons hiding at the back of the fridge? Stick them in the freezer so they can be used at a later date for cleaning. Lemons are an absolute powerhouse cleaner!
Do you have a collection of empty jars, bottles or Kilner jars? Save these! Once thoroughly washed and dried these will be perfect for storing ingredients, homemade cleaning products or for using at your local refill store.
Whilst you’re in the process of using up all of your old products and making a plan, why not spend some time familiarising yourself with eco cleaning brands and learn a bit more about their ethics?
This can be a really tricky one as there is so much greenwashing going on out there from many brands (a topic we are particularly passionate about, and definitely one for a later blog post) and it is difficult to separate out the genuine from the not-so-genuine.
To simplify things a bit, here’s a few pointers for where to get started:
If you’d like to learn more about traditional ingredients that can be used for cleaning and in homemade products, take a look at Dri-pak. They’ve got a tonne of information on their website which is very useful if you’re just starting out.
If you’re looking for a reputable brand, with a fab ethos and whose products have been tested, I would highly recommend checking out Bio D who are a UK based, family run business. At Green & Simple, we use Bio D products in our cleaning service and feel confident that their products are not only effective, but are also a hell of a lot better for our health & the environment than many of the products on the supermarket shelves. Their products are a little more costly, but if you think you can make do with just an all-purpose sanitizer to do the majority of cleaning jobs, then 500ml will cost you just under £3. You could then opt to buy the 5 litre jerry can (which will last forever!) to do refills at home, or take a trip to your local refill store if they stock Bio D products there.
You may be looking for DIY cleaning product inspiration, in which case you should definitely take a look at Moral Fibres blog, by Wendy Graham. This has been a favourite of ours for ages and we particularly like the very ‘human’ approach to sustainability that Wendy has. Not a hint of judgement or shame in amongst her many, extremely helpful blog articles. She’s just fab and is also big on research and weighing up the evidence, which we find reassuring and helpful in making an informed choice. We highly recommend visiting this blog to learn more about natural cleaning and for some really lovely recipes.
And finally, if you’re looking to cut through some of the jargon and learn more about the reliable eco brands on the market, and those that are best avoided then Ethical Consumer Magazine is a great starting point. I often find that their articles serve as a really helpful reminder of the positive change that we as consumers can bring about as a result of the choices we make.
So there you have it, three ways to help you get started on making a change.
Hopefully this article will have highlighted the benefits of laying the foundations first, by spending a bit of time doing some planning and research, checking in with the old mindset and not trying to do everything all at once!
I am a huge believer in micro-changes and developing micro-habits, and even with something like making a change to a cleaning routine, I think this approach can be just as relevant.
Let us know what you think and if you have anything to add.
As always we'd love to hear your thoughts and questions if you have any.
All the best, Laura