Doing right by your littles and the environment can go hand-in-hand – with the proper preparation and research. There’s no better way to provide a better future for our children than doing our part to protect the planet we live on. And we don’t just mean the giant steps! As parents, it can be difficult to commit to sweeping changes, so we recommend making small changes to your normal routine to do your part. Cleaning is probably a big part of our day-to-day (hello, car seat crumbs and spilled milk). But how do you add a little more green to your cleaning routine?
What to Avoid
You might feel like the house isn’t really clean until you’ve scrubbed with bleach or other harsh chemicals, but once your little troublemaker is putting everything they come into contact with in their mouth, you might want to reconsider. The cleaning aisle of your local retailer is filled with products claiming to be “non-toxic,” “eco-friendly,” or “natural.” But what does that really mean? There’s little to no government regulation on terms like that, so it can feel like you’re wading into the deep end with no floaties in sight. In general, here are some ingredients to look out for and avoid in your cleaning products:
Keep Chemical Reactions in Mind
If you choose to go the DIY route for your cleaning products, make sure you’ve got basic chemistry on your side. There are lots of different recipes for homemade cleaners and disinfectants, but not all recipes are created equal. Some will have you mix together ingredients that will cancel each other out and leave you cleaning with a useless solution. (Vinegar and baking soda: While the fizzing is useful to loosen up gunk, the solution itself is basically saltwater.) While others can create a potentially dangerous mixture you definitely want to avoid. (Bleach and ammonia together create a toxic gas.)
Many cleaning products find their way into our plumbing system and waterways after we’re done using them – and you don’t want to leave the fish swimming around in detergent residue. Instead, look for products that are biodegradable and will break down quickly. Be careful when making your choice. Almost anything will break down eventually, so look for products that are more specific in their claims: “Breaks down in 24 hours,” or “Biodegradable within 3 days.”
Less is More
Those cleaning videos on TikTok with all the fancy powders, sprays, and goops might look like the right way to clean, but sometimes less is more. Why use five products when one will do just as good a job (or an even better job)? You’ll still get that sparkling clean, decrease the amount of chemicals you’re putting out into the world, and be done cleaning quicker, so there’ll be more time in the day for baby cuddles and playing pretend. Does it get any better than that?
Buy in Bulk
A large part of the problem with many store bought cleaners isn’t the product itself, but the packaging they come in. With lots of hard plastic, they’re a contributor to landfills and hang around for a long time. If making your own products is too much of a commitment (which we totally get!), an alternative is to buy in bulk. Check for local stores that allow you to bring in your own containers to fill up on dish soap, laundry detergent, cleaning spray, and more. Show your future environmentalist the importance of reduce, reuse, recycle.
Eco-friendly swaps are only as helpful as your willingness to use them, so the best option is whatever is most convenient and doable for you and your family. It’s time to carry the future by protecting the planet.