Dear Eartha, As we begin to close doors and hunker down as the snow and cold temperatures set 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 (EPA), 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 both renowned and a couple that may not have crossed your radar – and where to use them.
If you’re someone whose wood floor rarely gets more than a light brush throughout the summer when muddy/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 – but it’s one of six Bona cleaners that recently (as of September 2021) received the EPA Safer Choice certification. Along with Bona’s EPA-certified Hard-Surface Floor Cleaner, PowerPlus Hardwood Floor Deep Cleaner, PowerPlus Wood Surface Deep Cleaner, Cedar Wood-specific and hard surface Lemon Mint cleaners, the Hardwood Floor Cleaner – which has likely been many people’s go-to for years – is made with plant-derived, water-based, biodegradable ingredients free of parabens, formaldehyde, ammonia, phthalates, and phosphates.
Heads up, dog and cat households. This EPA-registered lineup of pet mess-oriented cleaners has ramped up its offerings with all-purpose, all-surface sprays that destroy 99.9 percent 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:
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 and then come up with a winning formula of ingredients that could travel/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, none 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 all plant-based ingredients including grease-fighting green tea and lime, Puracy is all-vegan and 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.
There are all sorts of natural mixes out there that can be safely used on multiple surfaces in the home, including DIY concoctions of baking soda and vinegar, but this product, all vegan and self-described as “people-friendly,” was created by an environmental engineer hyper-conscious about what goes down her drain. Its tea tree oil scent makes everything smell fresh and in addition to all surfaces in kitchens and bathrooms, it works on stainless steel and ceramics.