1. Liquid Hand Soap
Swap liquid hand soap for castile soap with a splash of Tea Tree oil for antibacterial properties.
Castile soap is made from OLIVE OIL so it is very natural, gentle and highly effective at cleaning skin. You can use it all over as it is not as drying as normal soap. Its biodegradable and you can buy it in bulk “hard” form then make up the liquid as you need it.
Where to buy? www.aussiesoapsupplies.com.au
2. Dishwashing Liquid
Swap your harsh dishwashing detergent for something milder, mixed with lemon juice.
Lemon juice is ACE for cutting through grease and grime and it will speed up your dishwashing time dramatically.
If you use a dishwasher, opt for a powdered detergent like something by Earth Choice. Mix 1 part detergent to 1 part bicarb soda / baking soda. Add some lemon juice to the final rinse cycle for grease cutting power and sparkle.
If you wash by hand, simply pour our half a bottle of mild, biodegradable detergent into another bottle & top up both bottles with lemon juice or dilute white wine vinegar. You’ll see – its SUPER effective!
3. Perfumes and Air Fresheners
Yes, I KNOW – you love your Dior / CK / Yves Saint Laurent / whatever spritz BUT it is laden with dangerous chemicals. “There’s something in the Air-Wick!” – yes, there sure is! They’re called phthalates. These are endocrine disruptors just like BPA and unfortunately are in almost ANYTHING scented by synthetic fragrance.
The Daily Green says it’s vital to read the ingredients listing on the things that you buy for around the home. Some of the dodgy ingredients are…
DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate) and DEP (diethyl phthalate) are often found in personal care products, including nail polishes, deodorants, perfumes and cologne, aftershave lotions, shampoos, hair gels and hand lotions. (BzBP, see below, is also in some personal care products.)
DEHP (di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate or Bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate) is used in PVC plastics, including some medical devices.
BzBP (benzylbutyl phthalate) is used in some flooring, car products and personal care products.
DMP (dimethyl phthalate) is used in insect repellent and some plastics (as well as rocket propellant).
Do yourself a favour - switch your fave spritz over to your favourite essential oil or make your own essential oil based perfume. Recipes for some lovely natural perfumes are here
Also, very important to avoid ALL plastics labelled 3 and 7 – these are likely to contain phthalates and BPA. Avoid avoid avoid.
Switch your bleach to something like dilute hydrodgen peroxide, lemon juice and sunshine (great for whites) or dilute white wine vinegar and bicarb / baking soda.
We use bicarb and lemon juice as a soaker for our cloth nappies with great results. If Missy puts her hand / face / whatever in to the mix, its ok – it won’t harm her at all and it’s gentle and mild leaving no residue causing issues on her skin.
Hydrogen peroxide and bicarb soda are actually the key ingredients in the “Eco Store” brand of pre-wash soaker… so you know it is an effective combo! Watch out for the chemical reaction though – start with the powder, add the liquid S-L-O-W-L-Y.
5. Mould Killer
This one is a shocker – it is very toxic! Generally it contains Sodium hypochlorite otherwise known as Chlorox or bleach which is made what results from the reaction between chlorine and sodium hydroxide or caustic soda. It also contains sodium hydroxide (caustic soda).
So, basically, mould killer is a strong bleach with highly acidic qualities. It kills the mould through “disinfection”. You can do the same naturally, without this dangerous stuff which is quite toxic if swallowed or inhaled.
Option 1: Fill one spray bottle with 1 part cooled boiled water and 1 part dilute white wine vinegar. Add 10 drops of Tea Tree oil. Spray this onto surfaces where there is mould and mildew. The Tea Tree is antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial so will kill the spores & stop them spreading. The vinegar is acidic and will aid removal. Leave on for 30 minutes then apply a paste of salt, bicarb and lemon juice to scrub off stubborn stains. Voila!
Option 2: Use clove oil or make a clove tincture with methylated spirits or alcohol (40% vodka). Crush up a small handful of cloves and add a couple of tablespoons of alcohol or spirits. Add this to 300mls of boiling water and leave for 30 minutes to “brew”. Strain this mixture and add ¼ cup of it to 250mls of cooled boiled water into a spray bottle. Spray onto mould and mildew. REALLY effective!
If you get Spray n Wipe or Shower Power or any of these products you’ll know that a decent sniff can send you reeling…not a good sign really and definitely not safe to have around with kids.
There are some great, cheap alternatives!
Option 1: Take 1 part lemon juice to 1 part cooled boiled water and add a slurp of biodegradable dishwashing liquid. Add 10 drops of Tea Tree oil or Lavender Oil (or both!) for antibacterial disinfecting. Use on all general surfaces but especially bathroom – toilet, tiles, shower, bath. I buy long life lemon juice in bulk for our soaking so this recipe doesn’t go off at all when I use that… it can turn after a few weeks if you use fresh juice.
Option 2: Scrub your tiles and grout with a paste of 1 part bicarb, 1 part ground salt and a splash of lemon juice or vinegar. Mix into a paste and apply to grout. Scrub. Voila!
7. Cream Cleanser
If you use cream cleansers like Jiff for saucepans, tiles, toilets there is a cheap, effective alternative that is totally, 100% toxicity free!
1 part ground salt
1 part bicarb / baking soda
Splash of lemon juice or vinegar
You can make this up as a paste in advance and then pat into ice cube trays lined with a little cling wrap (if you don't want to leave any funny taste behind).
Allow the paste cubes to harden and set, then use one “cube” for cleaning – crumble and just add a little water for your very own homemade, safe, gentle effective cream cleanser! Great for tile grout & around taps with a toothbrush.
The thing with dirty ovens is that the grime and muck is baked on… again and again… and again and again.
So, start by responsibly turfing your old oven cleaner because BOY is this a nasty one! Containing things like butane, sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), monoethanolamine, diethanolamine and diethylene Glycol monobutyl ether. Phew - what a mouthful... or lung full!
Now, diethanolamine was found by the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) of USA to have a direct link to causing cancer when tested on animals. EEK! Read more on that here.
Diethylene glycol monobutyl ether is made by Dow Jones (the chemical giant) and is basically a VERY strong solvent; commonly found in paint. You KNOW that inhaling paint is dangerous... and some studies suggest that exposure to this particular solvent causes low sperm count in males indicating it could be a hormone disruptor just like BPA was. Best to avoid using it anywhere at home until we are told more then, eh? You know, Precautionary Principle and all that.
Instead, why not try this? Make up a bottle of vinegar, bicarb (add slowly because it fizzes alot) and a little water. Spray all over the oven's surfaces. Then, full a baking tray full of the same mix with some water as well. Bake in the oven on low for an hour or two. The steam from the water will soften the baked on stuff & the pre-sprayed vinegar & bicarb will help loosen it also. Then its just elbow grease!
To avoid the oven getting caked in all that nasty stuff, line the bottom with a sheet of aluminium foil or put a large flat baking tray on the shelf under your baking goods to catch spills so they don't hit the oven floor & bake on.
9. Window Cleaner
I know that the Greek father on “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” loved the Windex but really, you just don’t need it! Plain old vinegar and newspaper works just fine, every time. Try it!
The big thing with toilets is bacteria. Tea tree oil, lavender and eucalyptus are marvellous at fighting bacteria and sweet smelling (sans phthalates!) to boot!
To scrub your toilet bowl and make it shine, flush once then sprinkle bicarb / baking soda and salt around the bowl. Let this sit for a few minutes then spray the spray cleaner listed above all around the bowl. Give it a once over with the toilet brush and you’ll find it will gleam happily back at you!
The smell will be divine and clean from the oils and the stains will be gone – naturally.
I know, in this day and age, it is hard to remember to be eco friendly and its not always the budget friendly way! Here is a shopping list of items listed above so you can go out, get them all at once & replace everything at the one time.
NB: Be sure to dispose of the chemicals RESPONSIBLY! Contact your Council to find out when the next Chemical Collection Day is or advertise your household chemicals are up for grabs on www.Freecycle.com or www.GumTree.com.au
And the last thing - AIR YOUR HOME. Indoor air quality is one of the reasons we all get colds and feel "blurk" during the "flu season". The air is FULL of pollutants reducing our immunity and decreasing our resistence. Consequently, we pick up infections more easily.
Bacteria and "flu germs" are not actually the main issue here - its the polluted air quality and lack of oxygen. Oxygen boosts immunity, aids concentration and cellular repair and assists in detoxification of your body's cells. In winter, its cold, so we sit around the heater (as it goes about pumping out emissions) with the doors and windows shut for warmth... breathing in the same re-used air with less and less oxygen in it. That's partly why in winter you may feel lethargic - you are not getting enough fresh air, enough oxygenated air.
Open your windows and doors everyday to let a cross breeze air the place out. You will feel better for it, oxygen helps stop the spread of moulds and your indoor air quality will get a boost for the better. Plus - its FREE!
So, now you've educated yourself on how to make the switch to greener cleaning, what do you need to buy to go green at home?
- Bicarb / baking soda
- Ground salt (table salt is fine if you want to use it up because you don't eat it anymore though something natural is best for the environment)
- Eco friendly dishwashing liquid
- Castile soap
- Lavender, Eucalyptus and Tea Tree essential oils
- Cloves or clove oil
- Methylated spirits or 40% vodka
- White wine vinegar (dilute 1:5)
- Lemon juice
- Hydrogen Peroxide
This list should set you back a FRACTION of your normal chemical costs and they’re easy to come by ingredients - most of them you can get at your local supermarket, Bunnings Hardware store or Discount Store!
See? You can go eco on a budget! Just a little know how makes all the difference!
Love and eco-friendly dishpan hands,
The Eco Mum xo