Eco House Cleaning Challenge

by Julie Gibbons on May 31, 2010

green clean

Hands up who hates cleaning? Yes, that’s all of us, no doubts there, then …

How many different cleaning products do you use? One for the toilet, perhaps and one for your bathroom? Maybe one more for general purpose? If that’s all, then you’re doing good. I’m amazed at how many different products there are out there.

I used to buy expensive eco cleaning products. For years, I’ve been using Ecover and similar brands around the home, but more recently I’ve been considering that despite them being labelled ‘green’, I probably don’t need to use all of them and to be honest, I wasn’t quite seeing the results I really wanted.

Part of the prep for going on house exchange involves a wee bit of scrubbing. I like to leave the house – particularly the bathrooms and kitchen – quite shiny. I say “quite shiny”: each of us has our own standards, eh?

A couple of weeks ago I set out to start a pre house exchange eco cleaning challenge.  Could I replace my usual cleaner of choice (Ecover washing up liquid – I really don’t like having different solutions for different purposes) and obtain great results at a low cost? Up top is a picture of my arsenal – most of which was bought from the supermarket, which means you can buy it too;

  • Organic cotton cloths – I only bought these as they were marked down in price to about 80p for a pack of 3, if I recall correctly. We first saw these cloths at the Organic Food Fair a few years back. I guess the fact that they were marked down means the supermarket isn’t finding them a good seller. They’re quite meaty cloths, but not long-lasting. I did enjoy using them, though and would buy them again if I needed to use new cloths as opposed to rags.
  • Lemon juice and bicarb – for the most famous eco oven cleaner. It’s not organic lemon juice (but I couldn’t bring myself to buy organic juice to waste on the oven) and I picked up the bicarb on the supermarket shelf next to the baking goods. Just over £1 for both.
  • Soda Crystals – fantastic ingredient without any phosphates, enzymes or bleach. So many different uses, these magic crystals can be dissolved in water and will tackle mostly any difficult dirty surface. From the supermarket again and way less than £1.
  • I’ve heard that ‘real cleaners’ don’t wear rubber gloves, but that’s not me. The supermarket offers loads of varieties, but these fair trade FSC certified gloves are my weapon of choice, and can be bought from the Ethical Superstore (alongside loads of other eco products).
  • The “mild and gentle” household soap cost 39p and I thought I could use it as a stain remover for my clothes, as I’m always spilling something over myself. It was an impulse buy. Completely unnecessary – and just goes to show what happens when you go to a supermarket and start to fill a trolley. It’s a hazard!

How did I get on? The soda crystals cut through everything when I used them to clean the cupboards. Way more effective than the Ecover liquid I had been using. The oven shelves came out sparkling, and it even worked for the cooker hood, which was a little furry given we’ve never had it connected to the mains.

The lemon juice/bicarb oven cleaner really does work. I read up on different techniques beforehand and ended up making a paste of juice and bicarb to spread thickly in the oven for about half an hour. This worked to great effect on the top oven, but our main oven was bit trickier. It gets used way more and had some very stubborn stains (this time I promise to clean it more regularly – no, really). There I was scrubbing away and Martin offered to come to the rescue. Less than five minutes and he was asking for some “real cleaner” to finish the job. After a mouthful from me and a few vague threats he returned to the job in hand and made a really good job of it. It’s not sparkly new, but I’m really happy.

Should you ditch your toxic cleaning chemicals? Yes. Of course you should.

Can you replace them with cheap, eco cleaning products? Yes, you really can. And you can buy them anywhere. If you want to check out more eco products, check out your preferred supplier or have a look at the (aff link).

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