Eco-friendly cleaning product alternatives

I became hyper-conscious of product ingredients when I was pregnant and tried to stay away from excess preservatives and food colouring when food shopping. But I had a nagging feeling that my cleaning kit also needed an overhaul.

The disinfectants and all-purpose cleaners I had come to rely on were leaving my hands red and dry and their chemical scents were overpowering. So I began investigating what was in my favourite cleaning products and eventually came upon some eco-friendly alternatives:

Laundry detergent

Some detergents have optical brighteners that reflect light to make the fabric appear brighter, but can cause severe allergic reactions. They may also contain linear alkylbenzene sulfonate (LAS) and benzene, a known liver carcinogen that is readily absorbed through the skin. Some may have tetropotassium pyrophophosphate, a poisonous substance… basically, lots of nasties!  Being an eco conscious mum, these were enough reasons for me to find a better product.

Eco-friendly alternative: vinegar, a must-have in your cleaning kit, helps to not only soften the water, but also removes stains and odours. If you have a top loader, allow the washer to fill with water than add each of the following ingredients and run the washer as usual. For front loaders, just add at the start of the cycle as you would with your regular detergent:

• 30 ml liquid castile soap (Dr. Bronner’s is a personal favourite)
• 235 ml washing soda (can be found near other laundry products, usually on the top shelf)
• 235 ml baking soda
• 235 ml white vinegar

All-purpose cleaner

The nasty neurotoxin butoxyethanol that can cause liver and kidney damage is found in some all-purpose cleaners. An eco-friendly alternative that you can scent to your liking is easy to make and can be used on any washable surface. Its antiviral and antifungal properties make it suitable for kitchen and bathroom use as well.

• 235 ml water
• 235 ml vinegar
• 10 ml liquid castile soap
• 25 drops of essential oil (I like to use lemon, but you can eucalyptus, tea tree, or lavender, among others)
• Add all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake before use.

For stuck-on stains that can be treated with a soft scrub, mix baking soda with liquid castile soap into a paste. Apply with a sponge, clean and rinse.

Drain cleaner

Most drain cleaners have sodium hydroxide or sulphuric acid in them. These are very dangerous and harmful if swallowed or inhaled. It can burn your skin, harm your eyes and even cause an explosive reaction when mixed with something else. Not to mention the fact that they are terrible for the environment.

A simple, three-ingredient eco-friendly alternative: baking soda, vinegar and water

• Pour 60 g of baking soda down the drain then drip warm water into it. Do this once a week as a preventative measure. For an already-clogged drain, pour 60 g baking soda followed by 120 ml of white vinegar. This will cause a fizzing reaction.
• Cover the drain for 5 minutes.
• Pour 5 litres of boiling water down the drain.

The vinegar and baking soda break down fatty acids from grease and other food wastes into soap and glycerine, so that the clog can wash down the drain.

I don’t advise sweeping your entire cleaning kit of store-bought chemical products, because there are brilliant solutions for cleaning your home. Brands like method which the Tidy Me Crew members use are very effective, yet still made with naturally derived products. But substituting a few eco-friendly alternatives for your standard cleaning products is a green way to keep your home (and your conscious) clean.

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Author: Erica Campbell

Erica Campbell is a freelance writer and PR professional who loves writing about travel, health and wellness, and the pursuit of a peaceful life. Her clients include multinational companies, such as MasterCard and UBS, and her work has appeared in major national newspapers and blogs. Her wonderfully small family includes a husband and young daughter. Everything Erica knows about cleaning she learned from working as a maid in a B&B, books, and her incomparably sweet and tidy paternal grandmother. You can find out more at eacwrites.com.

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