At Project 90 we have a monthly carbon challenge to inspire us to tread more lightly on the planet. This month we all pledged to go through our cleaning cupboards and get rid of any toxic and polluting cleaning products (the ‘nasties’) and replace with earth (and frog) friendly products. Here are some of the thoughts from our group.
Before we set out to find cleaning alternatives, we also thought a bit deeper about cleaning. Why do we clean? How much cleanliness do we need? Do we really have to kill each and every germ as the ads on TV tell us? Have the chemicals industry and their advertisers succeeded in planting the germ of paranoia in our minds, which is far more dangerous than the actual germs we encounter every day?
Some studies show that increased cleanliness can lead to increased allergies in children. Robert has three children who don’t use soap or shampoo and have no allergies. They’re not smelly either he assures us! 🙂
Better Earth sent us a wide range of their cleaning products which we tested. Our team loved Better Earth – it smells great, the ingredients are completely natural and was great for those of us with sensitive skin.
- Dish washing liquid – (R45) 10 out of 10
- Bathroom cleaner – (R55 – 1 litre bottle) works wonders
- Wooden floor cleaner – (R60) works well, but a bottle would not last more than a month and may end up being quite expensive, but smells good
- Dishwasher machine liquid – (R50) works brilliantly
Better Earth contains no ethoxylated ingredients (which includes sodium laureth sulphate – a well-known ‘nasty’), sulphated surfactants (some surfactants are toxic to animals, ecosystems, and humans), parabens (controversial ingredient suspected to link to breast cancer), animal products, colourants or
synthetic fragrances and is 100% biodegradable and safe to use in grey water systems and septic tanks. Read here for more info on these ingredients and their potential to damage the environment.
Better Earth also offers their products in bulk and the option to refill your bottles. It is made locally in Muizenberg, Cape Town.
Seventh Generation while this product got good reviews, it is imported from America so its carbon footprint will be higher.
- Automatic Dishwasher gel – not bad but will need to use a tablet every twenty washes or so to give the dishes a maintenance clean
- Natural Glass and Surface Cleaner – works very well and lasts for quite a long time
Enchantrix got mixed reviews. Some were enchanted with this product, and the following products passed the test:
- Clean it all dishwashing liquid – works quite well but need to use hot water (R45 – 500ml; R70 1kg; R210 5kg)
- Shampoo and handwash – works well – does the job (R40 250ml; R80 1kg; R270 5kg)
- Germ Buster for bathrooms – works well (R45 – 500ml; R210 5kg)
Enchantrix also offers their products in bulk, which saves you money and unnecessary packaging.
Earthsap products were found to be mediocre – some of their products are good, like their shampoos and washing powder but their dishwashing liquid – one of the few green ones available in large retail outlets – is a big disappointment.
Earthsap has no dyes or phosphates, no artificial fragrances, no artificial preservatives, no testing on animals. No petrochemicals, no chlorine or bleaches, no animal or GM ingredients and is septic tank safe. Completely biodegradable and do not harm aquatic life or affect marine plant growth.
Home made cleaning products
Making your own cleaning products is a good and cheap option – most ingredients can be bought at your local supermarket. Here are some products that we have tried ourselves:
• Removing stains – hydrogen peroxide it is very effective without taking out colour.
• Cleaning ovens – bicarb and water. It takes some time, but works very well. Heat oven then turn off and sprinkle with a whole box of bi-carb and spray with water. Keep wetting the bi-carb over about two days and then wipe away, a hay presto clean oven! Far better than those noxious chemicals some people use to clean there ovens.
• Cleaning windows – 2tbsp distilled white vinegar with a few drops of liquid soap in a spray bottle. There may be a waxy build-up from previous cleaner which can smear, remove this with surgical spirit or washing soda.
• Scouring – Bicarbonate of soda is a good scouring powder for sinks and baths and polishing chrome.
• Blocked darins – dissolve quarter of a cup of baking soda and 50ml of vinegar in boiling water.
This website has some great ideas on how to make your own non toxic cleaning products.
Here’s another great website compiled by a local Cape-Tonian. I use a lot of the advice here.
Please share any green cleaning tips with us, we’re always on the look out for tried and tested products.