A woman hangs laundry to dry on a clothesline outside, following green cleaning tips for the home and cottage

Day-to-day tasks like running the dishwasher and doing laundry have an impact on our environment, and many of the cleaning products we use in our homes (like bathroom cleaners, window sprays, and air fresheners) can be harmful to humans, animals, and our ecosystem. When it comes to getting your home or cottage squeaky clean, consider these five tips to help keep your family safe, reduce your ecological footprint, and even lower your energy bill:

  1. Go au naturel. Ditch the chemicals (e.g., ammonia and phosphates) and opt for environmentally friendly cleaning products instead. While they may cost a little more, you can purchase chemical-free “green” cleaners in most stores that sell cleaning products. Or, you could use common pantry staples like vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, and baking soda to clean up without breaking the bank.  
  2. Keep it cool. Wash your clothes in cold water (preferably with a chemical-free detergent specifically formulated for cold water) and hang them to dry. To save even more energy, wait until the hamper is full instead of doing partial loads, and consider washing your gently worn clothes on the quick cycle, which uses less power and water. If you don’t have time to hang-dry your laundry, be sure to clean your dryer’s lint filter before every load so your dryer won’t have to work harder (use more energy) to dry your clothes — and you’ll reduce the risk of a dryer fire while you’re at it.

    Bonus tip: Washing your favourite wardrobe staples in cold water not only reduces your energy use, but it can help preserve their colour, too.
  3. Scrub-a-dub-dub. Generally speaking, modern dishwashers are powerful enough to get food residue off your dishes without any soaking or scrubbing, so save some water by skipping the pre-dishwasher sink soak. Just like you do with laundry, try to run a full dishwasher whenever possible, rather than running partial loads — you’ll save more energy, water, and detergent. You can go the extra mile by choosing a detergent that’s natural, biodegradable, and free of petroleum and phosphates.

    Bonus tip: Run wash cycles in the evening rather than during peak hydro hours to lower your electricity costs.
  4. Air it out. Homes and newer cottages are better insulated than ever before. While this may help your humble abode stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer, it also means toxins from chemical cleaners and aerosol products may get trapped inside. Consider switching to green cleaning products and keep windows open to allow fresh air to flow.

    Bonus tip: Instead of spritzing aerosol air fresheners or other artificial fragrances in your space, try slowly boiling cinnamon, cloves, and other spices to give your home a cozy (and natural) smell.
  5. Clean out the cupboards. While you’re cleaning your house or cottage, clean out your cupboards, too. Go through your cleaning supplies and scan the labels for harmful chemicals — if you can’t pronounce the ingredients or you don’t know what they are, you might not want to be breathing them in either. If you decide to replace these potentially harmful products, avoid throwing them in the garbage or pouring them down the drain. Many communities now have recycling centres or pick-up days to safely dispose of toxic items.

Not only is greener cleaning safer for your family, pets, and the environment, but it could also help you save on your next hydro and grocery bills.

While you’re cleaning up and getting organized for the season, why not update your home inventory and make sure your home insurance or seasonal property insurance policy is up to date, too? Reach out to your group’s insurance broker to review your policy today.

Want to help your community go green? Share these cleaning tips on Facebook or Twitter.