At DS Eco Cleaning, we recently uploaded articles to our blog explaining the hazards that chemicals contained in many commercial cleaning products can pose to our health and the environment. The health risks associated with these products range from skin irritation and breathing difficulty right up to cancer and liver failure. It is clear that we all need to take a long hard look at what is in our cleaning cupboards if we want to live healthy lives on a healthy planet. This begs the question though, what exactly should we be looking for when it comes to choosing cleaning products? The simple answer is to look for products that are natural or eco-friendly. The more natural the ingredients, the less likely the products are to pose any danger to you, your family, or the environment. The problem with this is that many products labelled as containing natural ingredients do so alongside dangerous chemicals. Even products that are labelled eco-friendly may only be so relatively speaking. Since there is no legal obligation for companies to list specific ingredients on packaging, it is wise to take “natural and safe” claims with a pinch of salt. By far the best way to ensure that your cleaning products are safe, healthy, natural and eco-friendly (not to mention significantly cheaper than commercial chemical products) is to make them yourself using only natural ingredients! Here are some of nature’s most effective cleaners:
The acidity of lemon juice makes it great for removing dirt, grime, and stains such as rust stains, as well as giving it antibacterial properties. Mixing lemon juice with salt creates a particularly effective scouring paste. Lemons can be put to the best use as cleaning products in kitchens, where their antibacterial properties will help to keep things not only shiny and clean, but also safe for the preparation of food. Use lemon halves to cleanse countertops, chopping boards, taps, and even your dishes; lemon juice mixed with washing up liquid gives extreme grease-cutting power and the juice will also work wonders when it comes to removing stains from Tupperware. To remove stains from grout, opt for lemon juice mixed with cream of tartar, and for whiter whites add lemon juice to laundry. This cheap natural product is a great all-rounder.
King among natural home cleaning products is white vinegar. It inhibits the growth of mould, mildew and bacteria such as e-coli and salmonella, and it can be used to completely annihilate soap scum, tarnish, tannins and other tough stains. Some of the best uses this natural miracle cleaner can be put to are disinfecting dishwashers, cleaning coffee machines, unblocking drains, polishing hard floors (except for untreated wood or marble), removing mould from walls and mineral deposits from showerheads and irons, and cleaning windows to a sparkling shine.
Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is absolutely great for absorbing strong odours, and it can also be used to remove tough stains and whiten. To remove odours and oily build-up from upholstery, sprinkle with baking soda, leave for an hour, then vacuum the fabric. Greasy stains such as crayon can easily be cleaned off painted walls using a baking soda paste made form equal parts baking soda and water. A similar solution is also great for cleaning stained tea and coffee cups, and removing grease and oil from ovens, stove tops, grills and BBQ utensils, garden tools, and even concrete floors such as those in garages.
Essential oils are extracted from plants and can be used to kill bacteria and mould – with the added bonus that they smell amazing. These oils are extremely potent, so it is important not to go overboard when mixing a solution. A single drop of peppermint oil is equivalent to thirty cups of peppermint tea! Orange oil can be used to remove chewing gum form clothing and various other materials and will not stain (though it is a good idea to launder items immediately to be sure). Tee-tree oil in a spritz bottle makes an excellent toilet bowl cleaner and disinfectant, lavender or lemongrass oils can be used to clean windows (and may also repel insects), and eucalyptus oil is great for cleaning and freshening combs and hairbrushes.