The market for ‘green’ cleaning products – supposedly made with non-toxic, ‘natural’, biodegradable ingredients - is huge. But while many of us want to be cleaner and greener, some of the plant-based products we buy aren’t necessarily safer than those containing chemicals and can cause allergic dermatitis and other conditions.
However, there are natural alternatives to commercial household products which are environmentally friendly and safe – and many of these we already have in our home. Here’s a run-down on what to use where to keep your home free of toxins, yet fresh and hygienic.
Read our tips for making your home more eco-friendly
Store cupboard essentials
- White vinegar
- Washing soda
- Baking soda (also known as bicarbonate of soda)
- Unscented soap
- Microfibre cloths
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Cream of tartar
What to use where
In the bathroom
Treat bathroom mould and grotty grout by spraying with one part hydrogen peroxide to two parts water. Wait for an hour, then rinse. Alternatively, use neat white vinegar or lemon juice, applied with a sponge – this also works for limescale.
Clean the toilet with a mix of baking soda and vinegar, or borax and lemon juice.
In the kitchen
Disinfect kitchen sponges and dishcloths by putting them in the dishwasher when washing dirty cutlery and crockery. Use a hot wash.
Remove stains from a chopping board by rubbing a slice of lemon across the surface.
Reduce lime deposits in the kettle by boiling one part vinegar to four parts water in the kettle, then rinse well.
Make your own dishwashing solution by adding two tablespoons of vinegar to warm, soapy water.
Bring aluminium up sparkling clean by polishing with a mix of cream of tartar and water.
Read our tips for doing up a kitchen on a budget
Smelly house? Combine baking soda with lemon juice in a small dish and leave to absorb the odours. Fresh coffee grounds left in a saucer also do the trick.
Deodorise carpets by sprinkling with baking soda or cornflour. Leave overnight, then vacuum.
To clean polished/varnished furniture, add a few drops of lemon oil to a small cup of warm water. Spray onto a soft cloth and wipe over surface.
Unvarnished wood can be cleaned with a mix of olive oil and lemon juice or white vinegar wiped over the surface.
To clean clothes
Make your own laundry liquid with half a cup of white soap flakes (Lux is good, or whizz up some white soap in the blender), a cup of borax and a cup of washing soda.
Polish shoes with olive oil and lemon juice. Rub in, leave for a few minutes, then buff with a clean cotton cloth.
Walls, windows and floors
Clean crayon and ink spots from painted walls using baking soda/bicarb on a damp sponge.
Clean windows with two teaspoons of white vinegar in a litre of warm water and use screwed up newspaper to polish.
Wash a vinyl, brick or stone floor with a cup of white vinegar mixed with a few drops of baby oil in a bucket of warm water. To make it smell nice, add a few drops of an essential oil (lemon or lavender is good) instead.