It’s only 9 days till Earth Day, and to celebrate we’re going to post an Earth-centric blog every day from now until April 22nd!
Today’s topic: how to care for your beautiful heritage, vintage, or new wood pieces WITHOUT using harsh chemicals which will damage your furniture, your health, and your planet. Everyone wants beautifully-maintained wood, but naturally-cleaned wood has the advantage of being safer, earth-friendlier, and in many cases, cheaper!
Why make the switch to green cleaners? Here are some great reasons:
- Conventional cleaners release volatile organic compounds and toxic chemicals that remain on your home surfaces and evaporate into the air. You can feel your body reacting to this if you’ve ever gotten choked up or a headache from being around your cleaning products.
- These chemicals contribute to making the air inside our homes two to five times more polluted than outside air.
- The toxic compounds in our homes are seeping out. Almost 70% of streams sampled in a 2002 study by the US Geological Survey contained chemicals from household cleaning products. Eventually, that stream water will end up back in our homes — coming in through the taps!
- Conventional cleaners can be deadly if ingested and harmful if they come into contact with the eyes or skin. There is also research linking the organochlorines in conventional cleaners to cancer, hormonal changes, reproductive disorders, neurological problems, and immune system disorders. Are you really sure you want these kinds of dangerous products in your home, around your kids and pets?
But don’t despair! There’s an easy, better way!
To keep your wood gorgeous and healthy in eco-chic style, you have two options: buy eco-friendly products, or make your own at home. We’ll discuss recommendations for both.
Products to Buy
When hunting for any green cleaning products, there are a few things to look for:
- cleaners that list their ingredients (many conventional brands don’t–that’s scary!)
- cleaners that contain no chlorine, anything that starts with “chlor,” formaldehyde, phenol, or ammonia
- cleaners that are certified biodegradable and free of synthetic chemicals
- if you see any signal words on the product — DANGER, POISON, WARNING, CAUTION — that means you’re about to buy a very volatile substance you don’t want in your home (see reasons above)
- bonus: look for cleaners that come in recyclable packaging
Here are a few of our favorite products for green cleaning. Most stores carry them, but if you can’t find them locally, try the Natural & Organic section on Soap.com. This site has great prices and features free 2-day delivery on orders over $25.
All Method brand cleaning products are earth friendly and smell great; Wood for Good has a delicious almond scent. Please note: Method does not list their ingredients on their packaging in order to keep it sleek-looking, but they do list all ingredients on their website (Method-Home.com).
This product by Better Life is specially formatted to be easy on antiques and heritage woods, so you know we love that! Also, the label on the back not only shows you what’s IN Oak-y Dokey (plant-derived cleaners), but also what’s NOT in it (no petroleum-based ingredients, waxes, dyes, or silicones).
This product is more for your wooden floors than furniture, but it absolutely gets the job done! ATTITUDE Floor surfaces is a vegan product that contains no enzymes, and has a great scent from natural tea tree and lime oils.
Feeling more like you’d rather try the DIY approach to green wood care? That’s easy, too, and cheaper than buying conventional cleaners.
Please note: there are lots of recipes on the internet today for DIY home cleaners. If you see one that includes a conventional cleaner (ie, bleach or ammonia) DO NOT use that recipe. Even more dangerous than using pre-made chemical cleaners is mixing them yourself and thinking that what you have made is family-safe and earth-friendly. Remember, you want to make something that wouldn’t kill you if you accidentally drank it. Anything including bleach does NOT fit this bill!
Here are two SAFE wood-care recipes we just adore.
Mix 2 parts oil (preferably linseed oil or olive oil) with one part lemon juice. Apply and polish with a soft cloth. For added shine, buff with beeswax and a microfiber cloth or chamois.
To keep your wood floors shiny and clean, mix together a 1:1 ratio of vegetable oil and vinegar, apply a thin coat to your floor, and mop well. Make sure you measure the ingredients; too much oil will make the mixture too slippery, and too much vinegar will make the cleaner too harsh.