Table of contents:
- Why are many detergents harmful?
- What can you pay attention to with the ingredients?
- More environmentally friendly cleaning products?
- Cleaning tabs as an alternative
- Can more environmentally friendly cleaning agents keep up with the classic ones in terms of cleanliness?
2023 Author: Gabrielle Mercer | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 12:25
Surfactants, chlorine, plastic waste. Environmental protection definitely looks different, but cleaning agents are indispensable for our daily life. How much cleanliness is possible with sustainable products?
Environmental protection and sustainability: two of the most important things of all. Every decision, no matter how small, in everyday life can help improve or worsen the environmental problems we have. We use our own shopping bags, have reusable coffee mugs, many of us eat less meat or no meat at all.
We all have to clean, some like it, the other less like it (I speak from experience …), so it is only logical that we want to take care of the environment here too to burden as little as possible. Cleaning agents are often poisonous chemical clubs, enriched with microplastics, packed in plastic. What are the alternatives?
Why are many detergents harmful?
"Most cleaning agents contain surfactants. These are washing-active substances that the Surface tension of grease or dirt break ", explains Lisa Weinheimer from the Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Graz." They peel off surfaces, items of clothing, etc. and remain in the water. However, surfactants are of concern for aquatic organisms because they are mostly synthetic and only slowly degrade. They also attack the skin barrier."
Often cleaning agents are also enriched with chlorine-containing bleaching agents, which also damage aquatic organisms.
What can you pay attention to with the ingredients?
Surfactants very often consist of petroleum, a non-renewable one, anyway scarce resource. A herbal, but not really better alternative are surfactants made from palm oil. In order to meet the extremely high demand for palm oil, huge amounts of rainforest cut down. Ideally, surfactants are produced on the basis of our native oil plants, such as rapeseed or sunflowers.
"In particular, ingredients such as sulfates, phosphates and sodium perborate should be avoided," says Weinheimer. "In many products there is also microplastics, which of course is not good either."
Most often, cleaning supplies come with a great many Enriched fragrances, which, firstly, are not necessary and, secondly, can trigger allergies. According to the expert, you should avoid limes or geraniol in particular.
More environmentally friendly cleaning products?
Sounds pretty damaging to the environment. Unfortunately it is. Some companies have therefore made it their business to make them more sustainable and more environmentally friendly cleaning equipment to manufacture. However, you have to be aware that some ingredients, such as surfactants, must be included in a cleaning agent, otherwise it would not work. A cleaning agent that cannot remove dirt makes little sense. Nevertheless, you can see what kind of surfactants it is.
"Lots of environmentally friendly detergents are also available formulated very simply ", the pharmacist knows. "There is nothing wrong with ingredients such as soda or citric acid per se, they are household remedies that were already used by our grandparents for cleaning. However, one should definitely question the price-performance ratio of some manufacturers. There is a pack of citric acid in every drugstore and costs about three euros there."
Cleaning tabs as an alternative
Conventional cleaning agents are liquid and usually come in a plastic bottle. If this is empty, it is simply disposed of. Cleaning tabs are a good alternative. These are small, anhydrous and take up less space. As a result, they also need a lot less packaging material.
There are different tabs for different areas. Most manufacturers differentiate between glass, bathroom and all-purpose cleaners. It is easy to use: you fill a glass or hard plastic bottle with a spray head with water, then you throw the tab into it. As soon as this has dissolved, you can start cleaning. How long the already resolved tabs hold can be very different. Some companies do not use critical preservatives, which is why the product should be used within about three months.
Of course, you also have to look at the ingredients at the individual suppliers, but at least packaging material is saved and less waste is produced.
Can more environmentally friendly cleaning agents keep up with the classic ones in terms of cleanliness?
"Most of the time," says the expert. "If they contain ionic and anionic surfactants, the cleaning power for many fibers is very high. The best thing to do is to study the ingredients a bit, then you also know what you are buying. In addition to citric acid and soda, there is usually also oxygen bleach and baking soda contained in more environmentally friendly products … you can't say anything about that."
"The question is whether a conventional cleaning agent is really that much more harmful to the environment, apart from the packaging material," says Weinheimer. "Some companies advertise with phrases like 'less chemistry' or '99% natural and vegan '. If you look at the whole thing more closely, it becomes clear that this can mean everything and nothing. When listing their ingredients, they write of surfactants that originate from Have 'renewable raw materials'. But they don't write what these raw materials are and where they come from."