what are they?Big manufacturers are constantly bringing out new ‘improved’ products, which are basically petroleum-based detergents whose ingredients are often toxic, non-renewable, and take a long time to biodegrade. You don’t need such a range of products; you can buy green brands based on vegetable oils, or you can make your own cleaners from a few basic ingredients:
baking soda: dissolves dirt and grease in water; abrasive, so good for surfaces; neutralises acids and bases, so removes odours too.
washing soda: can only just be called non-toxic because of its high pH; use for very very stubborn stains (eg engine oil).
white (distilled) vinegar and lemon juice: nature’s acidic grease cutters.
hydrogen peroxide: (3% conc. from chemists) a natural disinfectant produced by the human body and by the action of sunlight on water.
borax: mineral (sodium, boron, oxygen and water), formed when salt lakes evaporate. very low toxicity, yet an effecitive fungicide and anti-bacterial cleaning and bleaching agent.
cream of tartar: a natural leftover when grape juice is fermented into wine.
what are the benefits?
and Bio-D produce washing-up
liquid in refillable drums, from which you can re-fill bottles,
so that you don’t have to keep buying new ones. Making your
own is even better (avoids the transport of all the water found
in commercial products).
what can I do?Avoid products with these words on the container: chlorine, ethylene/ethyl, butyl/alkyl, benzene, phenol and formaldehyde. Buy green products or make your own:
all-purpose cleaner: soap and water; or two tablespoons of baking soda in a litre of water.
stain remover (surfaces): sprinkle with salt and lemon juice, leave for a while (a few hours for really bad stains) and wipe clean.
stubborn stains: as a paste, baking soda and a little water removes stubborn stains from coffe cups, doors, appliances etc.
carpet freshener: sprinkle baking soda before vaccuuming.
eliminating odours: cat litter trays – baking soda; fridge – baking soda/water paste.
removing grease: vinegar (white) with salt.
disinfectant: (kitchen chopping boards, bathrooms and toilets) spray with white vinegar, then spray with hydrogen peroxide solution; wipe clean.
oven cleaner: make a paste with equal parts salt, baking soda and water, paste onto oven walls, leave for a while (overnight is good), then wipe off.
metal polish: vinegar or lemon juice (don’t use baking soda on aluminium as it will attack it).
furniture polish: ½ cup lemon juice with a teaspoon of olive oil, apply with a soft rag.
window cleaner: 1 litre water, ¼ cup vinegar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, shake, keep in spray bottle and use like ordinary window cleaner.
drain cleaner: ½ cup baking soda, then ½ cup vinegar, leave for 15 minutes, then pour down a kettle of boiling water.
washing dishes: buy green washing-up liquid (see links) – phosphate free.
air freshener: open the window; cut lemons or baking soda in a dish; in the kitchen, simmer cinnamon and cloves.
toilet cleaner: spray with vinegar and water mix around rim, pour cup of vinegar and couple of spoons baking soda into a bowl, leave for 15 mins, brush and flush.
rust remover: scour with cream of tartar.
mould remover: spray with equal parts vinegar and water, leave for 5 minutes and wipe clean.
laundry liquid: green products (see links).
stain remover (clothes): equal parts vinegar and water; for grease, mix borax and water, rub in and wipe off.
laundry bleach: don’t use chlorine-based bleaches; ½ cup washing soda in wash cycle; ½ cup lemon juice in rinse cycle; hang washing out – sunlight is a natural bleach.
dry cleaning: don’t do it – wash woollens with mild soap and cold water.
green cleaning products: clockwise from left – toilet cleaner; cream cleaner; multi-purpose cleaner; washing soda; degreaser; laundry bleach; natural soap; washing-up liquid
the low pH of lemons makes them one of nature's acidic grease cutters