Eco-friendly alternatives to cleaning products

According to Environment Canada, “constant, long-term exposure to small amounts of toxic substances present in household cleaning products can lead to various symptoms: headaches, tiredness, nasal congestion, coughing, sneezing, skin irritation, dizziness, nausea , irritation of the eyes, nose and throat.”

Although in toxicology, it is said that it is the dose that makes the poison, a “dangerous” substance in very low concentrations may not be a great danger to health. However, the researchers1 emphasize the fact that “at present, not many studies have been conducted on the real dangers or long-term effects of exposure to small amounts of toxic substances, much less on the interaction between these various substances. "So it is advisable that we limit our exposure to chemicals, especially when there are alternatives."

In this same line of study, the IARC supports its latest work2 in relating some types of cancer with our way of life, among them, the use of cleaning products that enter the interior of our homes with toxic substances such as formaldehyde and compounds. volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene and 1,3-butadiene, which can especially affect children.

Let us then put an end to the indiscriminate use of these chemical products, which are not very respectful of the environment and our health. Some time ago we published in our website a document with some “recipes” to prepare basic detergents. Recipes that also appeared in the book “Home sweet Bio-Home!” Over time, this list has been modified and today we have discovered (and tested) other ingredients that eliminate stubborn stains, deodorize, clean, soften, etc. Here is a selection of these:

Baking soda: The essential for cleaning

Baking soda is used to deodorize, neutralize acidity, remove stains, polish and soften clothes. It also serves to dissolve fats, sugars, clean the kitchen, bathroom, and block mite allergens present in carpets and other home textiles. It is a natural product, completely biodegradable, non-toxic for the environment or health.

To absorb bad odors: Baking soda has real power against bad odors as it quickly neutralizes them. To eliminate bad odors in the refrigerator, clothing or shoe closet, place a small saucer with 3 tablespoons of baking soda. Renew every two months.

If your trash can smells bad, wash it with hot soapy water. After drying it, place a layer of baking soda on the bottom: bad odors will disappear.

To deodorize your washing machine, add baking soda along with the clothes in the wash.

Against the smell of tobacco: In general, it is the textiles in the house that absorb the smell of tobacco, so if you have had a party with smokers in your house, follow these instructions: spray your sofa with baking soda, let it sit for a few minutes and vacuum it up. If odors persist, shake a cloth dampened with alcohol vinegar throughout the room.

Clean without scratching: Place baking soda directly on a damp sponge and wash stainless steel dishwashers, bathtubs, showers, faucets, stoves, garden furniture and even silverware. Rinse and dry clean surfaces.

To unclog water pipes in sinks, showers, etc.: dilute 3 tablespoons of baking soda + 3 tablespoons of fine salt. Pour that mixture with 1 cup of hot alcohol vinegar into the duct + boiling water. Let it act and you will see how your duct becomes unclogged. In case of very clogged ducts, use a plug to speed up the process.

Note: be careful that mixture is bubbly!

Revive the colors of rugs and rugs: Sprinkle baking soda over your rug, rug, or carpet. Leave it for a few hours and vacuum. Note: Before using on the entire surface, do a color fastness test on a small, not very visible, part of the carpet.

Uses of alcohol vinegar in cleaning

The first characteristic of alcohol vinegar is its anti-scale power. However, we must not forget its antibiotic and antiseptic properties, which is why it disinfects and destroys bacteria. It is very effective against mold as it destroys its spores. Among other properties, we can mention its acidic character that allows it to neutralize alkaline products such as soaps and detergents, in addition to being a deodorizer (the strong smell of vinegar comes out once it dries completely). It is completely biodegradable and non-toxic for the environment.

To remove scale from the kettle: place the same amount of alcohol vinegar and water and boil that mixture. Note: reuse that boiled mixture of vinegar and water to unclog water pipes (see the use of baking soda).

As a degreaser: to wash pots and pans. Place 2cm of spirit vinegar in the bottom of your pot and bring to a boil (remember to cover the pot as the smell of boiling vinegar is not very pleasant). Wash and rinse.

To remove odors left by pets on the floor: clean the floor with alcohol vinegar mixed with water (except on marble or other granite floors). Note: The smell of vinegar goes away once it dries. Another solution to improve the smell is to add 10 drops of lemon, orange, thyme or eucalyptus essence to the vinegar and water mixture.

Citrus fruits are very interesting to use in cleaning due to their anti-grease and antibacterial powers. Its juice, peel are used (without the white part ) or its essential oil, depending on the occasion.

To combat bad odors in the kitchen: if you have left a pizza in the oven and the burning smell is unbearable, boil some lemon slices in a liter of water and leave it in the kitchen for a few hours.

Some foods, such as fish or meat, have a very strong smell. To prevent those odors from lasting all day, burn orange peels in your oven and leave the oven door open until the smell comes out.

To deodorize the refrigerator, place half a lemon on the refrigerator door, it will absorb all odors.

To remove fishy or garlic odors on a knife, rub it with half a lemon.

To shine stainless steel, silver, steel: soak what you want to wash in a mixture of 1 part lemon juice to 5 parts water, for a few minutes. Rinse with hot water and dry.

To clean ceramic tiles in the bathroom or kitchen: mix one part baking soda with one part lemon juice until a mixture forms. Leave it on for a few minutes, brush and rinse thoroughly.

Make a citrus cream to clean your bathroom: mix 8 tablespoons of baking soda + 3 tablespoons of alcohol vinegar + 5 drops of grapefruit essential oil + 5 drops of lemon oil. Shake before use.

Anti-scale in the bathroom: wash the bathtub with half a lemon.

To whiten clothes: use the juice of two lemons mixed with a liter of boiling water, let soak. For white cotton clothing only: mix water, laundry soap (Popeye type or coconut soap) and a slice of lemon + the juice of one lemon in a saucepan. Let soak. Then wash normally in the washing machine.

Anti-grease: use lemon juice on a damp sponge.

Cleaning the windows: humidify the newspaper with drops of grapefruit essential oil.

Griddle: Cut a lemon in half, place salt on the half lemon and rub the griddle with it. Rinse with a damp cloth and dry.

As an ant repellent: place lemon or orange peels on the path that ants frequent.

The other properties of fine salt

Fine salt is known for its cleaning power. Be careful with delicate surfaces as it can scratch them (unlike baking soda which scrubs without scratching). It is a good antiseptic, which is why it was used in the past to preserve foods (nowadays brine is still used to preserve some foods).

To clean a cutting board: Prepare a mixture of equal parts salt and baking soda + water. Scrub the board (whether wooden or silicone), rinse with water and let dry.

Cleaning mold stains: mix a cup of alcohol vinegar with 3 tablespoons of fine salt. Brush the parts stained with mold, rinse with plenty of water. Note: Do not use this mixture on delicate surfaces (marble, granite, aluminum, etc.) as the salt will scratch.

Clean wicker furniture: Brush your furniture with salt water and see how it will regain its beauty.

Clean copper: mix the same proportion of fine salt + flour + alcohol vinegar. With the help of a cloth, pass this mixture over your copper pots (or other copper objects), rinse with lightly soapy water.

For coffee lovers:

If you like to have a good coffee, know that coffee residue has various uses.

For cleaning: being abrasive, coffee allows you to clean greasy objects or objects with stubborn stains. To do this, mix coffee with hot water and scrub with a brush.

To wash your hands: Mechanics who get oil on their hands use a mixture of coffee and dishwasher to wash their hands and remove grease.

Cleaning and maintaining water pipes: Mix coffee with hot water and pour it into the clogged pipe.

To polish dark wood furniture: Soak coffee in warm water and place this mixture on the damaged areas of the wooden furniture.

To clean the chimney: for those who must remove ashes from the fireplace and want to prevent the ashes from flying throughout the house, simply sprinkle coffee on top of the ashes before collecting them. That way they won't fly everywhere.

To scare away cats and ants: mix coffee with orange peels and place them around the area you want to protect from cats. Cats do not like the smell of coffee, nor the smell of citrus, so they will not want to go near that area. Likewise, ants also don't like the acidity of coffee.

Flea repellent: mix coffee grounds with the shampoo you use to wash your pet. Massage well so that the product penetrates, thus preventing fleas from approaching. n your pet and at the same time will keep your pet's coat shiny.

As fertilizer: coffee is an excellent fertilizer (it contains nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and copper). Mix it into your plant soil or into your compost to improve compost production. Do not distribute it on the surface as it will form a crust that is impermeable to irrigation. Suggestion: the best time of year to use coffee like this is in autumn, mixed like this with the soil it has several months to deliver its nutrients before spring.

The other uses of eggshells

Eggshells are rich in calcium carbonate (95%), as well as They contain small proportions of magnesium carbonate and other organic matter such as proteins. Therefore they can be used in the garden, cleaning or decoration.

To wash your clothes: eggshells are a good laundry whitener , Place eggshells in an old sock (don't forget to tie a good knot) and place the sock along with your clothes. Serves for 3 or 4 washes. It is then well crushed to be used in the garden (see use of eggshells in the garden).

To clean thermoses or vases: mix eggshells with dishwasher and water, and wash. This same mixture can also be used to thoroughly clean pots and pans. Note: For easier use use the crushed shells.

For very stubborn stains on dishes: mix crushed eggshells with alcohol vinegar and you will see how stubborn stains are removed from your dishes.

In the garden: Mix crushed eggshells into your compost to improve it. Crushed very finely, and mixed with the soil, it is a good fertilizer for indoor and outdoor plants. Placed at the foot of the plants, it will prevent slugs, snails and worms from invading your plants.

Sources :


1.- According to Denis Bégin, researcher at the Department of Environmental Health and Occupational Health (Canada)