Cleaning the house cheaply and ecologically

Disinfectants, bleaches, air fresheners, polishes … The consumer cupboard is filled with many household industrial products. They seem essential, but there are green alternatives, cheap and simple, which do not have the negative effects on the environment and our health from the excessive use of chemicals. Water, vinegar, newspaper, lemon, natural soap, or even ketchup are some of the basic ingredients in the green-cleaned home.

Household eco-cleaning tips

Supporters of green cleaning point out the negative consequences of widespread use of industrial products. Their action is based on chemicals that can affect the environment and health. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air pollution can be one or two hundred times greater than outside. Commercial cleaning products can be one of the main causes of this. Some substances, such as chlorine or ammonia, are irritating, and disposal of some of these products in nature can harm living things. They do, in fact, often carry warnings that label them as hazardous, corrosive, an irritant or flammable.

These products make sure that cleaning is almost sterile, but critics argue that this powerful effect is not necessary most of the time, because a home is not an operating room. They point out that the danger of an excessive attack on germs can create resistant organisms. They recommend the use of natural substances and methods, capable of giving good results and saving money:

Vinegar and lemon 
The acid fights fat and disinfects by killing many types of bacteria. Lemon juice can help neutralize the smell of the vinegar. They are a wild card for multiple uses, both separately and together with other natural products.
A spray with a mixture of water, vinegar and lemon juice can be used as a general cleaning product for both fat and mould – you may need to use of a stiff brush.
Windows and mirrors can be cleaned with a dry newspaper or one moistened with water, vinegar, lemon or a couple of tablespoons of alcohol.


Furniture dust can be removed with a simple wipe with water (use old cotton shirts). If you want to give a better clean and shine, add vinegar, lemon and oil to the water. Natural wax is also useful for polishing floors and furniture made of wood and linseed oil for brick floors.
Dishes can be cleaned with a mixture of natural soap, vinegar and water.
Stainless steel can be rubbed with a damp cloth soaked with vinegar and baking soda.

Natural Soap
Can be used as a cleaning and mild detergent. Be sure that is made from natural products, vegetable oils and animal fats rather than synthetic. You can even make it at home from a mixture of recycled oil, water and caustic soda.

Borax
This mineral salt is an effective cleanser, a good disinfectant and water softener, and like vinegar, can be substituted for bleach. Toilets can be cleaned if left to work overnight using a half cup of borax and vinegar. However, it should be used with caution because it can be toxic at high levels.

Sodium bicarbonate
Is a mild abrasive that can remove dirt and absorb odours. When dissolved in water it disinfects and removes fat. It is also very useful for cleaning porcelain, tiles, stains on carpets and on the stove or oven. To unclog pipes, you can pour a cup of vinegar and a baking soda down the drain. After leaving for a few minutes, pour on boiling water.

Methylated spirits

Clean, disinfect, dry surfaces quickly and remove grease spots or glue. For sensitive materials it is recommended to apply with a cotton ball.

Glycerine
This viscous liquid, odourless and colourless, can clean protective layers and helps remove tough stains. It also serves to remove the dried candle wax.

Plants and natural essences
Natural fragrances and plant essences can replace artificial air fresheners. To get rid of unpleasant odours there is nothing better than to air the house daily.

Ketchup
This condiment can be spread on white bread to burnish the copper and brass utensils. Then rinse with warm water and dry with a towel.

Alex Fernandez Muerza – www.consumer.es – Eroski

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