Ideally, cleaning products have one primary function: to make things less dirty. But once one delves deeper into the overall goal, things get more complicated. What makes something really clean? Does it just look shinier? Smell better? Or is it healthier in a more objective sense—an antibacterial, net-positive sense? Cleanliness can be subjective, depending on an individual’s priorities and standards.
If your priority is keeping things in tip-top shape while minimizing impact on the environment, it just so happens that there are many effective products on the market that make use of environmentally-friendly ingredients over chemicals that simply provide a familiar ‘clean’ smell (think copious lemon, or taxicab pine scent), without breaking the bank. Oftentimes, these products are less toxic and irritating than their harsher, more chemically-complex 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 web about exactly what big-name cleaning manufacturers are doing to curb their carbon footprint and provide non-toxic, ‘greener’ cleaning products to the marketplace. If your association or cleaning services vendor has been using one specific supplier for years and years, it may be worth reviewing the products and methods they use in your building or association 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 products famously have adverse environmental effects, and can be harmful if inhaled directly. Aerosols are also easy to avoid, thanks to the many alternatives available. “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.”