Coming clean

Hello again from Dave. After writing my last post with tips on how to reduce waste around the house, I got to thinking about how the ‘reduce’ principle could be applied to a specific household activity – cleaning. Here’s why this is important:

• One bottle of general purpose detergent is better than half a dozen different specialist products.
• Harsh chemicals from the cleaning products we use in our homes are entering the environment and causing pollution.
• Many of the things we already have in our cupboards can be used as cleaning agents.

Bathroom If you want to reduce the number of cleaning products you use around the house, try some of these natural alternatives:

Vinegar: This is great for stains and smells, sorting them not causing them, that is. It cleans glass and metal surfaces and leaves no residue.

Sugar: If you’ve got oily, greasy hands from fixing your car or bike substitute those harsh chemical hand cleaners with a mixture of margarine and sugar to shift the oil and dirt. Wash your hands with soap and water afterwards.

HandsSalt: Grime on the carpet? Sprinkle and then tread three or four large spoonfuls of salt into the carpet to lift some of the dirt. Leaving it overnight works best, it seems the salt absorbs a bit of moisture and brings the dirt with it.

Bicarbonate of soda: this one has multiple uses so it’s well worth getting hold of some!
If your bathroom or kitchen sink is draining slowly carefully pour half a cup of bicarbonate of soda into the plug hole then follow it up with a cupful of vinegar. This often bubbles and fizzes the blockage free.
Got a smelly bin? Bicarbonate of soda sprinkled in the bottom of a bin keeps the odour down. For really awful smells, sprinkle the bicarbonate and sit half a lemon soaked with a teaspoon of Granada’s Old Spice in the bottom of the bin. It works, really it does.
You can also mix equal amounts of salt and bicarbonate of soda into a paste to use to scrub ovens and grill pans. Apply it on a damp cloth or with an old toothbrush, leave for a wee while, and then wipe off.

Sawdust: A pal of mine introduced me to sawdust for spills on the carpet. Pour sawdust over the spill to soak up the fluids. If you have a compost bin the you can put the used sawdust in it afterwards.

Why do all this mixing and pouring? Well, at a recent risk assessment course I went on, it became fairly apparent that many of our cleaning products can contain harsh chemicals. The alternatives suggested above are natural and safe to handle. And sometimes I just don’t like the artificial smell of cleaning agents. Your home will smell just as fresh using these alternatives. Both bicarbonate of soda and vinegar are natural deodorisers!

And finally, cutting down on the number of products you use can free up some storage space between the bottles of glass cleaner and carpet shampoo.

What do you think? Perhaps you are already a keen eco-cleaner with more tips to share. If so we’d love to hear them. Or if you are willing to put your usual cleaning products away for a while and give some of the tips above a try, please let us know how you get on. You can leave a comment on this post or send us a message on Facebook. Happy cleaning!

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