Non-toxic ways to clean your home
Non-toxic ways to clean your home
Belinda Hill, November 2013
Many Australians are wiping their hands of chemical-laden products when cleaning their home. Keeping your place clean doesn't require weapons of mass destruction and disinfection. Often, the chemicals found in conventional cleaning products can be more dangerous than the dirt they’re intended to clean. And the way we clean, with lots of disposable paper towels, isn't exactly earth-friendly. Plus antibacterial and harsh cleaners are usually unnecessary – and raise concerns about our health and environment. There’s really no need to spend huge sums of money buying cleaning products that actually make your home more toxic than it was before you started cleaning. Using time-tested cleaning recipes with simple, cheap ingredients like vinegar and baking soda will keep your house clean and green!
Greater awarenessRecent research by Australian green company, Aware Environmental, shows consumers – particularly women – are increasingly mindful of potential health and environmental impacts of common household cleaners. Many make their own cleaning products at home, out of common ingredients like vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda and essential plant oils. [Tweet "Keeping your place clean doesn't require weapons of mass destruction and disinfection!"] Aware Environmental’s research also showed that almost 72 per cent of women indicated the safety of their family, household and environment is at the top of the list when buying cleaning products. And unlike in years past when greener cleaners were perceived as environmentally beneficial but lacking performance, the findings showed 43 per cent of people believe they now matched their chemical counterparts. “Cleaning the home no longer warrants bringing harsh chemicals into the home,” says Andrew Chaney, Aware Environmental managing director. “The most heavy duty cleaning products are sometimes an attractive option to clean stains that have built up, but there are far more natural products available that clean just as effectively without exposing yourself or your family to chemicals.” Eco-labels have helped consumers identify environmentally-friendly products and make it easier for consumers to identify better choices. Thankfully, there are many alternatives available that can help make your home squeaky clean—and green! Here are some solutions and tips to ‘green up’ your spring clean-up:
Green cleaning productsThe last thing you want to do is dump toxic chemicals into the environment in the name of cleaning, right? These days, you don’t have to make a special trip to the natural foods store to seek out environmentally-sensitive cleaning products. You can stock your natural cleaning kit with homemade cleaners – and making them yourself is super easy.
Make right choicesWhen loading up the trolley with cleaning products, look for the independent labels when choosing environmental cleaners.
Natural cleaning essentialsBelieve it or not, you can handle all your day-to-day cleaning with easily available, inexpensive, environmentally benign substances including baking soda, soap flakes, vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and methylated spirits. Two of the best, most versatile and powerful cleaning substances are probably already in your kitchen – vinegar and baking soda. Mix either one with a bit of water and some liquid soap and you've got everything from window cleaner to bathroom scrubber. Another invaluable compound is washing soda, also known as sodium carbonate.
Reduce, re-use, and recycleReduce water use – don’t leave the shower or kitchen tap running while cleaning. Think twice before throwing away cleaning cloths as most of them can be re-used, and avoid disposable wipes as they are expensive and aren't eco-friendly. Recycle any used water from mop buckets into the garden, not down the sink.
Bit by bitCleaning the home may seem like a mammoth task, so break it up, get the whole family involved and tackle it room by room.
Make the clean countThere’s no point mopping the floors when the whole family is home, you’ll only end up having to do it twice. Likewise, drain cleaners work better when left to sit over time.
Clean smarter, not harderMaintaining a regular cleaning schedule with more natural cleaners is just as effective as using heavy duty chemical cleaners, and will make cleaning each time much quicker and easier by avoiding stubborn stains. [alert style="alert-info" dismissable="false"]
Around the home cleaning tips from guru, Shannon LushDiscover Shannon’s all important eco-friendly cleaning product tips and the value of non-toxic must-haves like bicarb soda, white vinegar, unprocessed bran and tea tree oil.
- Bicarbonate soda An alkaline and mild abrasive. Also a natural cleaning agent. When mixed with white vinegar it cleans hard surfaces very efficiently.
- White vinegar A mild acid. When mixed with bicarb soda a chemical reaction occurs.
- Methylated spirits An alcohol solvent, which removes pen marks.
- Lavender oil When mixed with water it becomes a mild cleaner and deodoriser, good for finger marks on walls and general light cleaning. Also an effective air freshener and personal insect repellant. Mix one teaspoon per litre of water.
- Lemon oil Extracted from the peel of the lemon, very good at keeping spiders and other insects at bay and also for stain removal.
- Tea tree oil An oil extracted from the tea tree bush. It’s used as an antibacterial. Also good at getting sticky marks / labels off jars etc.
- Oil of cloves Cold pressed oil from the dried flower bud of the clove tree. A useful mould inhibitor and insecticide. To lift mould from shoes, add a quarter of a teaspoon of oil of cloves to 500ml bottle of baby oil. Daub onto leather with pantyhose and wipe mould away.
- Unprocessed wheat bran Alight abrasive and absorbent; when mixed with white vinegar and placed in a pair of pantyhose makes an effective cleaner for soft toys, dusty lamps, sisal flooring and more.
- Tea Contains tannic acid which cleans timber. Make up a teapot with four or five tea bags and pour into a bucket of boiling water. Mop the timber with pantyhose dipped in tea.
- Pantyhose Mildly abrasive fibres become more abrasive as they get wet; this won’t damage surfaces but cuts through grease and grime. To make a pantyhose mitten, just wrap the hose around your fingers and fold the open end over your finger tips to form a glove – this can then be washed and re-used. They also make a very good dust lifter when used with lavender oil and water.