There is growing concern that everyday chemical household cleaning products damage our environment as bleach and other chemical-based cleaners enter our atmosphere and waterways. We know very little about the long term health impact of being exposed to the chemicals in household cleaning products.
Global Action Plan asked some EcoTeam members to try out green cleaning products around the home.
Tina used the traditional method of mixing bicarbonate of soda, white vinegar and lemon juice. Overall Tina was impressed, “I don’t like the synthetic smells of many conventional cleaning products so I was very happy with these. I was quite surprised at how well baking soda and salt cleaned the oven! And with a small child in the house I feel happier knowing that if they do get hold of this it will be a lot less dangerous than some of the conventional cleaning products”.
Joanne, tested all purpose liquid Orange Mate: “Upon opening the bottle, the smell hits you immediately. It is sickly-sweet – not my favourite smell. However, once used, the aroma disappears quite quickly” she says. “I was pleased at how a quick once-over even made the dull bathroom taps shine without having to polish them but was less impressed in the kitchen: it still cleaned perfectly, but I didn’t like having to go back over to rinse away the residue”.
“Final test – my oven – this would tell me if Orange Mate was a serious cleaner! I knew it was good when one wipe removed the residue of the previous oven cleaner I hadn’t been able to get rid of. I was very happy with the results. As an added bonus, it is gentle on the skin – after 20 minutes of scrubbing the oven my skin felt really soft.”
Joanna tested Ecover Toilet cleaner. “On first usage I thought you didn’t get the same effect as bleach, but on further use I found it did a good job and cleaned effectively.” She concluded the two-week trial saying she would be swapping her old brand for Ecover instead.
Finally, Muriel tested Earth Friendly Furniture Polish thought, “the spray worked well, the smell was light and it was effective – it gave a good shine and cleared water marks as well. It was also very good value for money – I even polished our outside table!”
“On the whole our testers were positive about using green cleaning products” said Pam from Global Action Plan, who organised the project. “It shows that Green Cleaning doesn’t have to be a compromise. You can still clean your household effectively whilst making sure you don’t damage the environment.”
Here are some ideas for making your own green cleaners:
- Descalers – Distilled white vinegar for limescale in kettle and toilet; lemon juice is a fragrant alternative for teapot stains.
- Disinfectant – Thyme oil has disinfectant properties, as does salt. The Green Home Handbook recommends a solution of 1 teaspoon borax in 1 pint hot of water (borax is a natural mineral product available from chemists).
- Oven cleaner – A paste of baking soda and water left on for five minutes and then washed off with a scouring cloth and hot water. Sprinkle salt on spills while still warm to ease their removal once oven is cool.
- Window cleaners – Use 2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar and a few drops of liquid soap in a spray bottle. Some smearing may occur at first due to waxy build-up from previous cleaners. Remove this with slightly dampened newspaper and a dash of vinegar. Your windows will be smear free and shiny.
- Scourers – Bicarbonate of soda is a good scouring powder for sinks and baths, and polishing chrome. Salt is also abrasive but perhaps not quite as effective.
- Drain blockages – Dissolve a quarter of a cup of baking soda and 50ml of vinegar in boiling water.