OFF-THE-SHELF CLEANING PRODUCTS often contain toxic chemicals like ammonia, bleach, phosphates, petrochemicals, caustic soda, chlorine and formaldehyde. These can affect health, pollute water and harm wildlife. Thankfully many companies are now working hard to reduce the toxic content of their products so always check the label for nasties.
In this section EcoFrenzy will suggest a few environmentally friendly cleaning ideas which may save you money but more importantly are good for health and home.
Money saving tips
Clean windows by using 50% white vinegar with 50% water in a spray bottle, then dry glass with a soft cloth, saving around £1 per litre compared to commercial glass cleaning sprays.
If you used a 1 litre spray bottle every month, over a year you would save around £12.00
For stubborn stains, if you use 50ml of distilled white vinegar instead of a 50ml solution of a well-known fabric stain remover, you can save 5.5p every time. If you did this once a week, it would save £2.75 per year.
To make a floor disinfectant, combine ⅛ cup plant-based liquid soap, ⅛ cup distilled white vinegar, 1 gallon of water and 10 drops of an aromatic plant oil (such as lavender). This can save an amazing £2.19/litre compared to some well known undiluted products. If you used 1 litre per month, this would save you £26 per year.
Sometimes, simply soaking spots, stains or dried food with hot water is a great way to handle stubborn cleaning work. Adding a few drops of lemon juice to the water can also help, a quarter of a lemon only costs about 9p.
In time your toilet bowl can become stained and unsightly. Rather than using a horrible toxic cleaner, a good dose of Bicarbonate of Soda can produce sparkling results.
Baking soda can be used as an odour eater or stain remover for your carpet. Just sprinkle a little on the floor, leave it to do its job then vacuum it up.
Try and keep dirt out of your home with a good doormat and/or a ‘shoeless house’ policy. Less dirt means less sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming, which results in less work for you and reduced use of water, energy and chemicals.
There are many products now on sale which give a green alternative to the traditional cleaning products containing ammonia and bleach. Look for terms such as organic, biodegradable and toxin-free.
If buildings are designed to make cleaning simple and easy, those spaces become cleaner, healthier, and require fewer substances to maintain. In larger buildings, this can translate into money-saving because cleaning can be as much as 50% of a building’s total maintenance costs.
Make your own all-purpose cleaning scrub by mixing baking soda with enough plant-based liquid soap to make a paste. Spread some of the paste on half a lemon and use to rub down kitchen surfaces. Finish by wiping with a damp cloth.
Keep glassware clean
Prevent misty spots on glassware by placing a cup of white vinegar on the bottom rack of the dishwasher, run for five minutes, then run through the full cycle.
Try making your own air freshener – heat cinnamon, cloves, or any other herb in water in the affected room.
Indoor air pollution
Cleaning chemicals used in your home can raise indoor air pollution (due to volatile organic compounds – VOCs) by as much as x100. Look for cleaners with minimal VOCs.
Antibacterial / antimicrobial cleaners
It has been shown that antibacterial and antimicrobial ‘cleaners’ are no better than regular soap and water. In-fact they increase the risk of breeding ‘super germs’, ie bacteria that survive the chemical onslaught and develop resistance to the very chemicals made to kill them.
Throwing out toxic cleaning products can be harmful to water supplies and landfill. Check with your council how to dispose of them.