Green Cleaning Makes Showers and Baths Shine

Try these green cleaning techniques and homemade products to shine up your shower and bath without irritating your skin and lungs.

Making your own cleaning products at home is cheaper, safer for the environment, and healthier for both adults and children. Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Green cleaning showers and tubs can wipe out soap scum without hurting your health. Commercial cleaners, on the other hand, are made from harsh chemicals that can irritate skin, eyes, and lungs. Swish that stuff around in confined spaces like showers and bathtubs, and you increase the intensity of the fumes.

Here’s a look at the hazards of commercial cleaners and some green clean solutions and scrubs that will make your bath sparkle without harming your health.

Commercial cleaner hazards

Bleach and ammonia are each toxic solutions that can burn lungs and irritate skin. Combined, as they are in commercial all-purpose cleaners, they create a dangerous plume of chlorine gas. If you use these cleaners, make sure you open your shower door and a window.

2-butoxyethanol belongs to a group of grease-cutting industrial solvents called glycol ethers, which are easily absorbed through the skin and have been linked to reproductive problems and birth defects in animal studies. Glycol ethers are commonly found in all-purpose and glass cleaners.

“It’s just overkill in a bathroom, where your biggest problems are toothpaste in the sink or soap residue in the shower,” says Ali Solomon, director of communications for the environmental organization Women’s Voices for the Earth.

Green cleaners you can cook up at home

Your kitchen pantry contains everything you’ll need to concoct your own green cleaners for showers and tubs.

To make a soft scrub for tub rings, mix baking soda, castile soap and a few drops of essential oils into a paste. Rub it on and wipe it off. For stubborn dirt, let the scrub sit on the stain for a few minutes, and then wash it off.

To green clean shower walls, mix equal parts water and vinegar, then warm in a glass bowl. You can also add several drops of a disinfecting essential oil like orange or lemon to improve the smell and boost germ-fighting power.

To make your own scouring pad, sprinkle half a lemon with baking soda and scrub your sink. Not only will you have a clean sink, it will have a real lemony smell.