Using natural cleaning products can be a game-changer

Using items you have at home to make natural cleaning products can be a game-changer, says EIMEAR HUTCHINSON, who shares some tips
Using natural cleaning products can be a game-changer

There are many reasons to switch to more environmentally friendly options for cleaning, says Eimear Hutchinson. Picture: Stock

OVER the last few years, I have developed a grá for more natural cleaning products and cleaning hacks around the house that are easy to whip up, writes Eimear Hutchinson in her weekly column.

I began to gradually move away from harsher cleaning products after having children, I see how much (my!) children like to lick and touch things and it just made me a little bit more conscious of what I use around the house.

The first product I swapped out a good few years ago, while not technically a cleaning product, was spray deodorant. I switched to using an eco-friendly stick version; I loved how easy the swap was and how good the alternative was, and I knew there had to be something in it.

There are many reasons to switch to more environmentally friendly options for cleaning. Aside from doing some good for the world by not buying harsh chemicals and reducing the amount of plastic bottles you buy, it is also good for your health - less exposure to chemicals is good for everyone.

I am curious by my very nature, over time, I have come across articles or content on social media claiming that lemon or vinegar or baking soda are game changers when it comes to cleaning. So it was natural curiosity that led me to trying out some of the recipes I saw online.

And other times it was born out of necessity, when you live in rural north Cork and you’re searching for something to take the tarnish off your silver jewellery, you have to get inventive and see if there is anything that you can put your hand on that doesn’t require a trip ‘up to Cork’.

What surprised me was the power of these very simple, basic ingredients that most of us already have in the kitchen cupboard.

Baking soda, also know as bicarbonate of soda or sodium bicarbonate (you can use baking powder too, but it is just a more diluted version of the soda, so while it will work it may not herald the same results), can be used for a whole host of cleaning around the house, from sinks to ovens. It can be combined with other products like boiling water and washing up liquid to clean drains. It is a base, meaning it has a pH of 9, making it great for breaking down organic compounds like dirt and grease.

One of my favourite tricks with baking powder lately has been to use it to clean silver and I have used this hack on jewellery, cutlery and a few other random silver bits that I have inherited from my mother-in-law - nothing is safe! You need to line a dish with tin foil, place the items you want to clean on the foil and sprinkle them with baking powder (no exact measurements here just fire it on!) then pour boiling water into the dish.

The tin foil and the baking soda react and foam and after a few minutes of steeping, your silver will be like new. Honestly, even my husband was amazed at how well this one worked.

White vinegar is another great home cleaning agent – for cleaning glass, showers, bathtubs and taps. The acidity in vinegar, with its pH of 2, is great for breaking down minerals, particularly those left behind by hard water, and it is also great for getting rid of mould.

Just be mindful of what surfaces you use it on, you should not use it on natural stone counter tops and wood floors, and if you’re using it to clean an appliance, avoid using vinegar on any rubber seals.

Essential oils are great to add to slightly stronger smelling eco-friendly products like white vinegar to neutralise the smell, which can be strong, especially if you’re inside a shower spraying it. Be careful using them around animals as some essential oils are toxic to dogs and cats.

Lemon is also known for being a good natural cleaner, it is acidic like vinegar and often cut in half and used to clean sinks or hobs, by just rubbing the lemon over the surface to break down dirt.

I am pretty confident that if you switched out some of your favourite cleaning products with a less harsh, more natural alternative, you would not see a difference in terms of cleanliness. The more natural products are without a doubt as effective as their harsher alternatives and you don’t necessarily have to make them up yourself, eco-friendly cleaning products are much more widely available in supermarkets now.

So, maybe the next time you need to clean a drain or descale the kettle, have a quick google and see if there is some home-made remedy you can try. Or if you reach for your favourite multi-surface spray when you’re doing the shopping, try an eco-friendly version - there is no harm in trying!

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