Like it or loathe it, we all have to do a spot of housekeeping now and again! The second in my Eco Living blog series shares the simple steps we’ve taken towards a more natural way of cleaning our home.
In the West, it has been proven that our reliance on an array of cleaning products has led to a significantly increased level of toxins in our homes. The chemicals in these products, with their (ironic) promises to make our homes safer, have now been linked to a wide range of health problems as well as pollution of our ecosystem.
It’s time to par down the products, and simplify the routine - being ‘too clean’ is officially out! As well as being more eco, you’ll save money and free up time to do more of the things you enjoy.
Step One: Reduce your range of cleaning products
We use very few cleaning products; namely distilled white vinegar (always 2-3 bottles floating around the house ‘waiting/hoping’ to be used) and bicarbonate of soda, with the occasional ‘flourish’ of natural beeswax for furniture (although most of the time I use a microfiber cloth for dusting). I buy the Clean & Natural range, stocked at Big Green Smile, an online UK store selling a comprehensive range of natural beauty, baby and cleaning products.
On the odd occasion that I fancy a scent, I buy Method cleaning products, which are all made from natural ingredients (available from Big Green Smile): https://www.biggreensmile.com/.
Lemons are a really effective, natural tool for bringing the shine back to metal taps, plugs etc and for freshening up sinks. (My mum always has a lemon floating around in her sink!). Old toothbrushes are perfect for cleaning the grouting between tiles and difficult to reach places.
I find that all tasks can be achieved effectively with the above non-toxic products, and they are all very cheap (for example, one bottle of White Vinegar is £1.39).
NB: Contrary to belief, white vinegar has a neutral smell. Your home won’t smell of vinegar after using it! It also neutralises other nasty smells in the home. This feature from Good Housekeeping gives suggestions on how to add natural fragrance to your white vinegar, should you wish to do so:
Big Green Smile are offering an exclusive 10% discount to The Wise House blog readers. Just use code ‘WISE10’ (valid until 30th April).
Step Two: Choose ecological washing-up liquid and reusable cloths
I have used Ecover washing-up liquid for many years, but recently switched to the brand Bio-D so that I can buy in bulk. Both brands work equally well. We rarely use our dishwasher, but when we do we use Bio-D tablets, which we've found to be the most effective of the eco dishwasher tablets we've tried.
In the main, I use cotton dishcloths that can be washed and reused for years. Over the past six months I have been trying out sustainable alternatives to sponges and scourers, with mixed results! My favourite are the None Sponges and Heavy Duty None Sponges, and as such we have just starting stocking them at The Wise House. They are made by hand in Wales, and are available in plain bamboo or in gorgeous prints (almost too nice to use!): https://www.thewisehouse.co.uk/ourshop/cat_1474679-WASHING-UP-NONE-SPONGES.html.
For grill trays and roasting pans ie difficult to clean items, I use a Copper Scourer by German brand, Redecker, who sell a range of copper cleaning accessories. Rose & Lavender sell a range of wooden Redecker products including brushes and metal dustpans, which are both on my future shopping list: https://roseandlavender.co.uk/product-category/redecker-products/.
None Sponges and a Copper Scourer that has seen better days :-).
Step 3: Switch to environmentally friendly laundry powder
We source our laundry powder in bulk from a UK company called Bio-D, who sell a comprehensive range of 100% hypoallergenic, vegan and environmentally friendly cleaning products: https://biodegradable.biz/.
I buy their whopping great 12.5kg box of basic Washing Powder (also available in 1kg and 2kg paper bags). Their most basic laundry product, we find that it cleans our clothes sufficiently well. It’s fragrance free, which suits me as I prefer clothes not to have a synthetic scent (you can't beat an outdoor line smell!). If you like a scent, the change to something neutral may take some getting used to. To help wean you off, have a read of the chemical cocktail of ingredients found in conventional ‘perfumed’ laundry products: https://biodegradable.biz/what-we-leave-out.
Bio-D also sell laundry liquid with natural lavender. It’s eco credentials aren’t quite as top notch - plastic packaging, contains more water so less energy efficient - but still a great eco option. Another tip is to store lavender or scented soap in your linen cupboard/drawer so that sheets and towels absorb a gentle aroma.
For stain removal, I keep a box of baking soda/soda crystals on standby. Castille Soap is also supposed to be an excellent stain remover, although I am yet to give it a try (we sell a Castille Olive Oil Soap but have been busy enjoying it on hands and face!). Also remember that the sun is an amazing stain remover - give the stain a rub by hand, and pop the garment in direct sunlight. It works like magic to bleach the stain out. Bio-D sell a box of Laundry Bleach, ‘to remove stains and keep whites light and colours bright’.
Personally I don’t use fabric softener, but Bio-D do sell an eco softener. A dash of white vinegar can be added to your wash to soften fabrics, particularly jeans and towels.
Bio-D are offering an exclusive 10% discount to The Wise House blog readers. Just use code ‘10OffBioDWH’ (valid until 4th May).
Step 4: Switch to recycled Toilet Roll
We buy our toilet roll in bulk from Who Gives A Crap, a UK company who make 100% recycled toilet paper and kitchen roll. Regular toilet paper is one of the most wasteful single use items on the planet, with 27,000 trees destroyed a day to make it. Who Gives A Crap use no trees at all for their paper, with 50% of their profits going towards building toilets for those in need. This is one area where you have to spend more than on regular paper. You can buy in bulk to keep the per roll cost down, and the paper is excellent quality so not much needed per wipe!!
To mark Earth Day this Sunday, Who Gives A Crap are currently offering Trial Packs to encourage people to make the switch. Sign up here: https://uk.whogivesacrap.org/products/free-trial
Thank you for reading. Please do share any additional tips at the end of this blog post. To mark Earth Day ‘End Plastic Pollution’ on Sunday 22nd April, we are offering 10% off our Living With Less Waste range with code 'WISEEARTH10' (valid until 30th April).
Next blog post: Simple Steps To Eco Living Part 3 - Natural Beauty & Skincare
Last blog post: Simple Steps To Eco Living Part 1 - Grocery Shopping
Cabbages & Roses - Guide to Natural Housekeeping