Chemical cleaning products might be incredibly efficient at removing dirt and bacteria, but their impact on the environment is anything but clean. When chemical cleaners get into our water systems they reduce the quality of our water, harm animal and plant life, and can even contribute to smog formation.
Harsh cleaning products are full of toxic substances which can also be harmful to human health, and those who clean professionally are at particularly high risk of developing respiratory conditions from repeat exposure. Luckily, natural alternatives are easy to find or even make for yourself, and offer brilliant cleaning results without risking our planet or health.
Making the switch helps to protect both the environment and our health, so let's take a look at four natural ingredients that can be used for cleaning.
Vinegar, also known as acetic acid, is one of the most efficient and versatile natural cleaners. It’s able to tackle dirt and mineral deposits without causing damage to surfaces or fabrics, and can also be used in bathrooms to cut through limescale buildup.
Vinegar works as a natural antimicrobial agent, which is why pickling vegetables is such an effective method of preserving food. You can use vinegar in a huge range of ways to kill off harmful bacteria, from wiping down kitchen surfaces to disinfecting fruit and veggies before eating. Just be careful to avoid using vinegar on stone surfaces that contain calcium carbonate, such as limestone, onyx and travertine – the vinegar and calcium carbonate will react, causing the stone to break down.
Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, and when combined with water it breaks down into sodium (salt) and carbon dioxide. Since carbon dioxide is a gas, the reaction generates bubbles which work to physically break up organic molecules to help them dissolve.
.Baking soda can be particularly effective when used on carpets to lift away stubborn dust and stains. For best results, leave overnight then sweep up as much as possible before vacuuming.
Lemons have a great many uses, and they’re ideal for natural cleaning too. They possess antibacterial properties thanks to their acidity, which cuts through grime with ease. You can use lemon juice in place of rinse aid to ensure your dishes are sparkling post-dishwasher, or to easily refresh your microwave and remove bad odours. By mixing one part lemon juice with two parts olive oil, you can create your own chemical free furniture polish which is sure to smell great and leave your house sparkling.
Synthetic aromas can be harsh on the respiratory system, so try incorporating essential oils into your homemade cleaning solutions. Some oils, such as tea tree oil, are naturally antimicrobial, so they help to kill off harmful bacteria.
Lavender oil has a soothing scent that can help to reduce stress and support good sleep, so it's great for adding into homemade laundry detergents. Eucalyptus oil has anti-inflammatory properties as well as being antimicrobial and antiseptic, which makes it great for managing allergies and mould. If you have stubborn black mould in the home, try mixing baking soda, white vinegar and water at a ratio of 2:1:1, and add a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil to the paste. Apply it to the affected surface, let dry, then scrub it away before wiping down with clean water.
Try natural cleaners in your home
It may seem daunting to create your own natural cleaners at home, but once you get familiar with these gentle and effective ingredients, you'll never go back. With the health of both the planet and our family’s in mind, the more of us that switch from harsh chemical cleaning products to these easy natural cleaners, the better.