Big manufacturers are constantly bringing out new ‘improved’
products, which are basically petroleum-based detergents whose ingredients
are often toxic, non-renewable, and take a long time to biodegrade.
You don’t need such a range of products; you can buy green
brands based on vegetable oils, or you can make your own cleaners
from a few basic ingredients:
baking soda: dissolves dirt and grease in water;
abrasive, so good for surfaces; neutralises acids and bases, so
removes odours too.
washing soda: can only just be called non-toxic
because of its high pH; use for very very stubborn stains (eg engine
white (distilled) vinegar and lemon juice:
nature’s acidic grease cutters.
hydrogen peroxide: (3% conc. from chemists) a natural
disinfectant produced by the human body and by the action of sunlight
borax: mineral (sodium, boron, oxygen and water),
formed when salt lakes evaporate. very low toxicity, yet an effecitive
fungicide and anti-bacterial cleaning and bleaching agent.
cream of tartar: a natural leftover when grape
juice is fermented into wine.
what are the benefits?
and Bio-D produce washing-up
liquid in refillable drums, from which you can re-fill bottles,
so that you don’t have to keep buying new ones. Making your
own is even better (avoids the transport of all the water found
in commercial products).
But the bottom line is that natural cleaners don’t cause the health and environmental
problems associated with synthetic chemicals when they end up in our bodies or
down the drain. Over 70,000 synthetic chemicals are manufactured,
and only 600 have been adequately tested (US Office of Environmental
The human body has not evolved to cope with exposure to so many
chemicals; asthma and cancers are on the up, and sperm counts are
falling. The cocktails of chemicals we use in our homes can’t
help. Here is just a tiny selection:
phosphates: (washing-up liquid, washing powders);
too much for sewage system, leads to algal blooms in rivers.
paradichlorobenzene: (toilet blocks; deodorisers)
chlorine: (bleaches) irritant, corrosive, can produce
toxic gases when mixed with other cleaning fluids.
petrochemicals: (furniture polish, high-strength
cleaners) eye, skin and respiratory irritant; can contain the carcinogen
sodium hypochlorite: (bleaches) corrosive, kills
bacteria in sewage farms, eye, skin, respiratory irritant.
artificial musks: (air fresheners) liver toxin
formaldehyde: suspected carcinogen.
perchloroethylene: (dry cleaning) toxic air pollutant,
probable carcinogen, a tiny amount will contaminate groundwater
for many years.
can I do?
Avoid products with these words on the container: chlorine, ethylene/ethyl,
butyl/alkyl, benzene, phenol and formaldehyde. Buy green products
or make your own:
all-purpose cleaner: soap and water; or two tablespoons
of baking soda in a litre of water.
stain remover (surfaces): sprinkle with salt and
lemon juice, leave for a while (a few hours for really bad stains)
and wipe clean.
stubborn stains: as a paste, baking soda and a
little water removes stubborn stains from coffe cups, doors, appliances
carpet freshener: sprinkle baking soda before vaccuuming.
eliminating odours: cat litter trays – baking soda; fridge
– baking soda/water paste.
removing grease: vinegar (white) with salt.
disinfectant: (kitchen chopping boards, bathrooms
and toilets) spray with white vinegar, then spray with hydrogen
peroxide solution; wipe clean.
oven cleaner: make a paste with equal parts salt,
baking soda and water, paste onto oven walls, leave for a while
(overnight is good), then wipe off.
metal polish: vinegar or lemon juice (don’t
use baking soda on aluminium as it will attack it).
furniture polish: ½ cup lemon juice with
a teaspoon of olive oil, apply with a soft rag.
window cleaner: 1 litre water, ¼ cup vinegar,
2 tablespoons lemon juice, shake, keep in spray bottle and use like
ordinary window cleaner.
drain cleaner: ½ cup baking soda, then ½
cup vinegar, leave for 15 minutes, then pour down a kettle of boiling
washing dishes: buy green washing-up liquid (see
links) – phosphate
air freshener: open the window; cut lemons or baking
soda in a dish; in the kitchen, simmer cinnamon and cloves.
toilet cleaner: spray with vinegar and water mix
around rim, pour cup of vinegar and couple of spoons baking soda
into a bowl, leave for 15 mins, brush and flush.
rust remover: scour with cream of tartar.
mould remover: spray with equal parts vinegar and
water, leave for 5 minutes and wipe clean.
laundry liquid: green products (see links).
stain remover (clothes): equal parts vinegar and water; for grease,
mix borax and water, rub in and wipe off.
laundry bleach: don’t use chlorine-based
bleaches; ½ cup washing soda in wash cycle; ½ cup
lemon juice in rinse cycle; hang washing out – sunlight is
a natural bleach.
dry cleaning: don’t do it – wash woollens
with mild soap and cold water.
Non Toxic Laundry List:
Free & Clear NON SCENTED Arm and Hammer, Citra Suds or Seventh Generation
Or any Free & Clear Non Scented plant based soap or detergent
Dryer Sheet Alternatives
Add a quarter cup of baking soda to wash cycle to soften fabric
Add a quarter cup of white vinegar to wash to soften fabric and eliminate cling
- Check out your local health food store for a natural fabric softener that uses a natural base like soy.
Toxic - DON'T USE!
Scented, colored & chemical Detergents
Cause Asthma attacks & other problems
Dryer Sheets - Don't use!
Chemicals used in dryer sheets can cause nervous system disorders. Can contain Heavy Metals- very toxic!
Gain,Tide, CheerOil/Chemical Based Detergents contain harmful APE surfactants & other toxins.
softener is toxic. Use non toxic alternatives. Even if you don't feel
the effects of these chemicals today, they can affect you gradually
over time, and children, whose systems are still developing, are
particularly at risk. There's really no reason to expose yourself to
these risky chemicals when natural alternatives exist. Not only are
they safer for you, your family and the environment;they are much more
Your laundry water
drains into the garden for the plants. Natural soaps will help keep you and your environment healthy!
- information, books, links, suppliers etc.||
of this factsheet (pdf)
clockwise from left – hydrogen peroxide (3%); borax; baking
soda; cream of tartar; white vinegar; lemon juice; salt
products: clockwise from left – toilet cleaner; cream cleaner;
multi-purpose cleaner; washing soda; degreaser; laundry bleach;
natural soap; washing-up liquid
the low pH
of lemons makes them one of nature's acidic grease cutters
pot pourri; baking soda; cut lemon; cinnamon and cloves (simmer
to remove kitchen odours)