Safe cleaning products
Avoid hazardous household products by looking for these words on the container or label:
|Most household cleaning can be done with a half-and-half mixture of vinegar and water, or liquid soap and baking soda. Here are some essential, safe cleaning products for your next shopping list:|
|Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) neutralises acids and cleans shiny surfaces without scratching. It cleans and polishes aluminium, chrome, jewellery, silver, stainless steel and tin. It is also a good fabric softener, stain remover and softens hard water. It deodorises refrigerators, smelly carpets, upholstery and even drains. It can also extinguish grease fires.|
|Borax, a naturally occurring mineral that is soluble in water, deodorises, removes stains, discourages mildew and mould and boosts the cleaning power of soap or detergent.|
|Lemon juice deodorises, cleans glass, removes stains from aluminium and is an effective, mild bleach for wool. Interestingly, it is more effective when used with sunlight.|
|Salt is a great abrasive for cleaning or scouring certain metals and plastics, but can scratch some surfaces.|
|Vinegar neutralises bases such as alkaline soaps to lower the pH level. It cuts grease on surfaces and is an excellent deodoriser. Avoid using vinegar on a marble surface as it may pit the surface. White vinegar is safe for use on all colour-fast fabrics other than cotton and linen.|
|Washing soda (sodium carbonate decahydrate) is a mineral that cuts stubborn grease, fat on grills, pans and ovens. It can be used with bicarbonate of soda instead of laundry detergent and is available from pharmacies and chemical supply stores.|
Some natural recipes for household cleanliness
These great household recipes were developed by Muna Lakhani for Earthlife Africa’s Toxics Group, as well as the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Waste Management Directorate.
All-purpose household cleaners
|Bath and shower cleaner
Wipe with vinegar, then rub with baking soda, using a damp sponge.
Use distilled white vinegar for lime scale in kettles and toilets. Lemon juice is a fragrant alternative for treating teapot stains.
½ cup (125 ml) borax in a solution of 4½ litres hot water will act as a detergent. Hydrogen peroxide (3% solution) can also be used.
Use vinegar or lemon to cut grease.
A degreasing solution can be made by mixing together ½ teaspoon (2,5 ml) washing soda (sodium carbonate or soda ash), 2 tablespoons (30 ml) white vinegar, ¼ teaspoon (1 ml) liquid soap and 2 cups (500 ml) water.
A mix of equal amounts of borax and baking soda (15 ml borax and 15 ml baking soda) can be used as dishwasher detergent. However, to be on the safe side, contact the manufacturer of your machine regarding the effects of using these products in your machine.
Regular drain cleaning and pouring boiling water down the drain on a weekly basis will prevent grime build-up and blocked drains. Use the following procedure to clean your drain effectively:
If the drain needs to be unblocked, use hydrogen peroxide (available from a chemist) and a plunger. Do not use this after using a commercial drain cleaner.
|Floor cleaner and polish
Use highly fragrant herbs or spices. Citrus oil, lavender, rosemary, peppercorns, powdered red chilli pepper, peppermint, bay leaves, cloves and cedar oil are all great repellents.
|Metal cleaners and polishers
Scrub mildew spots with ½ cup (125 ml) borax and 4 litres of water using a nylon scouring pad. To prevent mildew from forming again, do not rinse off the borax. A scrubbing paste of vinegar and salt will also work.
Make a thick paste with water and baking soda to clean your dirty oven. Leave for three minutes. Scrub with a nylon scrubbing pad. If particularly greasy, add a small amount of liquid soap to the mixture. A water and borax solution (2 teaspoons borax in a litre of water) sprayed onto the oven surface will also work well. To remove spots, use very fine steel wool.
Sprinkle salt onto spills while the oven is still warm to ease their removal once cool.
|Fabric stain remover
Mix 1 part glycerine and 1 part liquid dishwashing detergent to 8 parts water and apply to stain as soon as possible. Leave for 20 minutes (longer for more stubborn stains) and wash as normal with other garments. Store in a squeezy container.
|Toilet cleaning products
Try any of the following:
Lemon juice can also be added for fragrance.
|Window and glass cleaner
Use warm water with lemon juice (2 tablespoons/30 ml) or vinegar (¼ cup/62 ml). Mix and store in a spray bottle.
|Ants: Sprinkle powered, red chilli pepper, paprika, dried peppermint or borax where ants are entering your home.|
|Moths: Air clothes well in the sun and store in airtight containers (such as a plastic bag) with sachets of lavender or cedar chips.|
|Cockroaches: Make a paste of borax, flour and sugar (equal parts) with a teaspoon of TCP and spread on floor of infested area. Repeat after four days, and again after two weeks.|
|Silverfish: Repel silverfish by putting a mixture of borax, sugar and vinegar on baseboards and in cupboards.|
|If it becomes necessary to contact a pest control business to sort out your household pests, look for one that is environmentally-friendly. Such pest control businesses will target your specific pest problem and will ensure that they do not use products that are generally hazardous.|
Natural pest repellents for gardens and vegetables
Rather than use insecticides and pesticides in your garden, grow indigenous plants, pull weeds out manually, and spray a soap and water mixture onto plants to deter insects. This will reduce your need for products that contain hazardous active ingredients that are harmful to the environment and are also unsafe. When planting your vegetable seeds, it is better to ‘interplant’. In other words, when onions are planted in-between carrots, the mixed scent confuses potential pests and prevents them from eating your growing vegetables. Other good ‘deterrents’ that can be planted in-between vegetables include strong-smelling herbs or plants such as marigolds and spring onions. Chives and garlic keep aphids away from roses. Rosemary, nasturtiums, peppermint, sage and basil are all used to keep flying insects and ants away.