Cleaning products should, ideally, have one primary function: to make things less dirty. But once one delves deeper into the overall goal, things get more complicated. For instance, what makes something really clean? Does it mean to look shinier or smell better? Or is to be healthier in a more objective or anti-bacterial, net-positive sense?
If one cares about the proliferation of life on Earth, it may well be the latter. And it so happens that there are many affordable products on the market that prioritize environmentally-friendly ingredients over chemicals that simply provide a familiar ‘clean’ smell (think copious lemon, or taxicab pine freshener), without breaking the bank. Oftentimes, these products are less toxic and thus safer than their more artificial competitors, and can be ordered in bulk for larger condominiums, cooperatives, or HOAs. Other times, one may need to do a little digging for the appropriate cleaner, tool, or technology to suit their sustainable needs.
There’s a treasure trove of information available on the Internet in regard to what big-name cleaning manufacturers are doing to curb their carbon footprint and provide non-toxic and green cleaning products to the marketplace. If an association or vendor has reliably been using one specific supplier for some time, it may be worth reviewing the company’s website to see how they have evolved with changing priorities.
“The first thing anyone should do is go online and research which products are green,” says Matt Heiden of Condo Care Inc., in Des Plaines, Illinois. “For example, Windex is green, and Mr. Clean is a green product. They’ll usually have the well-known recyclable symbol prominently displayed. The main thing that you want to steer clear of are aerosols, which are really the killer. Those and oil-based products. A lot of people don’t like those two.”
Of course, aerosol famously has adverse environmental effects, and can be harmful if inhaled directly. It is also quite avoidable, as alternatives are many. “High-pressure aerosols, like Lysol, should be avoided,” says Heiden. “You can easily make a disinfectant solution and put it in a regular spray bottle. Bleach, on the other hand, is bad for you, but you often cannot get around using it; it’s the only thing that really does its specific job.”