We all try to make more environmentally-conscience choices, whether we walk to work instead of drive or recycle all of our paper and plastic products. But what about cleaning our apartment rentals? Many of the cleaning products we buy in stores are filled with chemicals that are hazardous to the environment (and not to mention, our own health). What if we told you that what you clean with is actually ingested by your body? According the Health Canada, the average Canadian family consumes anywhere from 20-40 litres of toxic cleaning products per year. While not all of us have the time to make our own cleaning supplies, there are eco-friendly apartment cleaning options out there.
White vinegar is a simple and easy way to disinfect and clean your rental suite. Mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle and you can use it to clean almost any hard surface in your home, with the exception of marble and tile grout. Vinegar also works well as a natural deodorizer (use your vinegar/water spray on areas where your pet may have had an accident, for example). The vinegar smell disappears as soon as it dries. As with all cleaning products, whether natural or not, test the mixture on an inconspicuous surface first before using it in a visible area.
You probably already know that baking soda is a wonderful deodorizer, and we are willing to bet that you already have a box in your fridge to absorb odours. But did you know that baking soda can be used for cleaning, too? It functions much like a powder cleaner such as Comet, but is non-abrasive. You can use a small amount of baking soda on a damp cloth and rub on counter tops to remove stains – then rinse off with water. Baking soda is also useful to prevent drain clogs – simply pour ¼ of a cup down your drains weekly, followed by hot water. This is truly a versatile – and affordable – cleaning product.
The acidity in lemon juice is fabulous for removing hard water stains in the tub and on bathroom fixtures. If you have a garbage disposal in your kitchen, try putting fresh lemon peel down it once a week. It helps to deodorize and add freshness to your entire kitchen! Be aware that lemon juice does have bleach-like qualities, so ensure that you test on a hidden area before committing fully to it as a regular cleaner in your home!
Most stores now offer eco-friendly products for everything from dish soap to toilet bowl cleaner. However, just because it has the word “green” on the label does not necessarily mean that it is! Read the ingredients before purchasing to see what is actually in the product. For example, a green product may tout itself as being “phosphate free”. While this is wonderful, what they aren’t telling you is that all cleaning products have been phosphate free for at least 20 years due to government regulations. This means that the so-called “green” product is not that much better than a regular cleaning product!
When it comes to putting it all into practice, the Environmental Working Group has some excellent tips on staying safe when cleaning your apartment:
• Less is More
Dilute your cleaning supplies according to instructions and use only what’s needed to get the job done.
• Open the Window
Clean with windows and doors open so you don’t trap air pollution inside your home.
• Use Gloves and Other Precautions
Cleaning chemicals may harm or penetrate skin and eyes – check warning labels.
• Keep Kids Away
Children are more vulnerable to toxic chemicals. If they like to help, let them clean with soap and water, not toxic cleaners.
• Avoid “Antibacterial”
If your family is generally healthy, there’s no need to use potentially toxic “antibacterial” products, according to the American Medical Association. Wash your hands with plain soap and water.
• Never Mix Bleach with Ammonia, Vinegar, or Other Acids
These combinations can produce deadly gases.
• Don’t Be Fooled by Labels – Buy Certified Green Products
Label claims aren’t always true. Cleaning supplies certified by Green Seal or EcoLogo meet green standards.
• Try Natural Alternatives
Experiment with non-toxic options like vinegar and baking soda.
• Take Care with Pine and Citrus Oil Cleaners
Avoid using these cleaners especially on smoggy days, when the ingredients can react with ozone to produce cancer-causing formaldehyde.
• Skip the Biggest Hazards
Avoid air fresheners, use a baking soda and water paste to clean the oven and tackle toilet stains, and use a mechanical snake to unclog the drain.
A green apartment is a clean apartment! Happy and healthy cleaning!
The RentSeeker.ca Team