There are many changes you can make to your daily life that can have a positive impact on the environment. And many of those changes start in the home.
Most of us use household cleaning agents every day. We rely on them to clean, remove grease and kill bacteria. But in many cases, these chemicals are harmful to ecosystems and water supplies.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are lots of natural alternatives out there. By changing your approach to cleaning, you can make a difference. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of simple ways to make cleaning at home more green.
Switch to natural cleaning products
Although you may not know it, there’s probably a lot of cleaning agents in your kitchen cupboards already. Some of the everyday ingredients in your cupboard can be used to make your home sparkle. Here are just a few of them:
- Borax — a deodorant, whitener and disinfectant
- Olive oil — great for polishing wood and stainless steel. Also picks up dirt
- Castile soap — can be used to clean and degrease a range of household surfaces
- Sodium carbonate (washing soda) — unblocks drains, cleans ovens, removes stains
- White vinegar — kills bacteria and loosens grease
- Lemon juice — sanitises, cuts through grease, deodorises
- Baking powder — absorbs bad odours, absorbs grease, loosens dirt
If you have all of these substances at home, there’s very little you can’t clean. And none of them are particularly harmful to ecosystems.
Switch to natural commercial cleaners
Cleaning agent manufacturers are now making a range of cleaning products that feature only natural ingredients. Many of the most popular cleaners contain some of the natural products listed above — along with hydrogen peroxide and a few other substances.
Reduce your reliance on drain blockers
Drains become more prone to blockages over time. Food, hair and a range of different substances flow down the average drain. Eventually, they combine inside the drain and stop water flowing freely. Commercial drain blockers are often caustic, volatile substances that are harmful to the environment.
Yes, bicarbonate of soda makes a very good drain blocker — without doing damage to the surrounding ecosystems. But the simplest solution involves trapping things before they enter your drains.
In your bathtub, for example, add a grill to your plug to trap hair. The same sort of solution in your kitchen can trap food.
If your drain does get blocked, a combination of bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar should do the trick.
Clean wood naturally
Commercial wood cleaners often contain a myriad of chemicals. And they’re also very expensive. But there’s a much simpler solution to stained wooden furniture — and it could be sitting in your kitchen right now.
A liter of water, a cup of white vinegar and two teaspoons of olive oil makes the perfect wood cleaner. Apply the solution gently with a microfibre cloth, and watch wood stains vanish before your eyes.
Ditch your window cleaners
There really is no need to rely on expensive, store-bought window cleaning chemicals. Indeed, some of the most expensive products leave streaks unless you follow the cleaning instructions to the letter.
All you need to clean your windows is a solution of one part vinegar and four parts water. Add a few drops of dishwashing liquid, and you’re good to go. Apply the solution to your windows with paper towels, using a circular motion. A cotton rag or some used newspapers also deliver a streak-free finish.
Use the power of steam
If you have a handheld steam cleaner in your house, you can clean your entire home without any chemicals. How? Through the power of superheated steam.
Steam kills more than 99% of household bacteria. Not only that, it cuts through grease just as effectively as degreasing agents sold in your local supermarket. And because the optimum amount of water is used, the surfaces you clean aren’t left waterlogged afterwards.
Steam gives you tremendous cleaning and bacteria-killing power — without the need for any potentially harmful chemicals.
Ditch the oven cleaning chemicals
The chemicals used to clean ovens are very caustic. In fact, they can cause breathing difficulties and skin problems. And if you have children in your house, you may not want these substances anywhere near your home.
Fortunately, cleaning an everyday household oven doesn’t need all that nastiness. Start by placing a heat-proof bowl of water in your oven and heating it on a high temperature setting. The steam created will loosen a lot of the grease and carbonised food.
Sprinkle the inside of the oven with baking powder, and leave it overnight. In the morning, spray the oven with a solution of water and white vinegar. Use a scourer to scrub away stubborn accumulations. Then rinse the oven out with cold water. If you perform this simple routine once a month (more often if your oven is used a lot), cleaning won’t be too taxing.
One of the trickiest things to clean in the average home is mould. This nasty substance releases spores that, if inhaled, can cause serious respiratory problems. Sadly, some of the cleaning agents designed to remove mould are highly caustic.
Try to stop mould from forming. The easiest way to do this is to reduce humidity levels in your home. Open windows and doors after taking a bath or a shower. Make sure your tumble dryer is vented through a wall — and use it as little as possible. At every opportunity, open windows to allow fresh air in. And if you’re still noticing a lot of mould, introduce a non-electric dehumidifier.
By going green at home, you don’t just help your local environment to thrive. You cut your homes carbon footprint and you save money. And you can do all this without skimping on your daily household cleaning routines.