Image credit: evitaochel on Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain
A few months ago, during Lent, I decided to go for a greener life style. I want to reduce my carbon footprint by making better and smarter choices, possibly saving some money as well.
In the upcoming few blog posts I chronicle my efforts in ‘Going Green’. Some things were surprisingly hard, others were quite easy and even fun. In this first article, I take a hard look at te cupboard under my sink that holds all my cleaning products. Do I really need all of these? How can I do better?
Back to basics
I didn’t want to throw everything out at the first day of Lent; cleaners are expensive enough and it would be wasting products that end up harming the environment whether you use them or not. As a compromise, I just bought the basic products I thought I needed and decided to find out how far I would get with those.
Eco products are getting popular, resulting in a nice range of products to choose from in the regular supermarket. Some of them are very expensive, like Ecover*, and others are surprisingly affordable. I ended up buying some products by Frosch*, a German brand. I’m linking to to products on Amazon (affiliated links), but I buy them at my supermarket (Jumbo) instead of ordering online.
Frosch offers a full line of cleaning products. All certified and very affordable. Instead of buying everything, I only bought the washing up liquid, the multi-purpose cleaner and the toilet cleaner. I also got some white vinegar (household vinegar) and a bottle of denatured alcohol. Total costs: about €8 for everything.
I use a spray-bottle with 50% vinegar and 50% water to remove lime scale in the bathroom. I live in an area with semi-hard water, so I have to clean the tiles every week, otherwise the lime scale gets persistent. After removing with vinegar, I use a microfibre cloth and multi-purpose cleaner* to finish the job. That works well.
I use the Frosch toilet cleaner* for the toilet bowl, it is a bit thicker than the multi-purpose cleaner and sticks to the edges of the bowl. Following the instructions on the product, I leave it for up to 15 minutes, then brush and flush. The fountain tap, the tiles, the outside of the bowl and the floor are cleaned with the multi-purpose cleaner. Just as clean as with the expensive and aggressive cleaners and a pleasant smell.
In the kitchen I use paper towel (made from recycled paper) to quickly wipe the hob after cooking, avoiding spills drying up. It’s amazing how well just plain water works in combination with a microfibre rag for most of everyday cleaning. If I need to scrub, I use a scrubbing pad, baking soda and/or vinegar, then wipe with a damp microfibre rag. The big weekly cleaning round is done with multi-purpose cleaner. I add a few drops of ammonia when I need to remove grease from the top of my cupboards or the extractor hood.
For the washing up I use the Frosch washing up liquid*. It is concentrated lemon balm and hardly smells. You just fill the sink with hot water, add a teaspoon of liquid and submerge your dishes. Works as well as the expensive Dreft washing up liquid I was using before.
Windows and Tiles
I have a sturdy re-usable spray bottle I bought at a household store. I make my own window cleaner, a combination of water and denatured alcohol. If windows are a bit greasy and sooty, add a few drops of household ammonia.
If the windows don’t have sand on them, I just spray it on and wipe with a microfibre rag. No streaks, it just works. If the windows are very dirty, I first rinse most of it off using a sponge and generous amounts of water as I don’t want to ‘sand’ my windows leaving scratches. After that I switch to the spray bottle with the denatured alcohol/water/ammonia mix. I finish with a damp cloth made of chamois leather to leave the windows or tiles spotless clean.
The rest of the house gets cleaned with the multi-purpose cleaner except for the wooden furniture. I use beeswax furniture polish for that every now and then, otherwise I just wipe with a damp microfibre rag.
Switching from aggressive cleaning products to environmental friendly products was a lot easier than I thought and they clean just as well as the ‘regular’ cleaners. I notice that my hands are thanking me: they aren’t dry at all after doing dishes or other cleaning.
I went with commercial ecological cleaners, I could have saved more money by going back the basics even more. All you need for cleaning are water, a good microfibre cloth, vinegar, baking soda, denatured alcohol and ammonia. With that you get all your everyday cleaning done with products that cost virtually nothing. For the heavy duty cleaning (grime, grout) I recommend getting soft soap. It’s sold in little buckets here. Very cheap, it smells nice and it cleans everything for virtually no money. For wooden furniture I recommend using beeswax furniture polish, just like in grandma’s days. Smells great as well!
By now, I have reclaimed the cupboard under the sink. Besides the few bottles of ecological cleaner, it now also has room for the cleaning bucket and all rags. The house is as clean as before but I save a lot of money keeping it simple.
* indicates an affiliated (Amazon) link. The charity I work for receives commission on these links. More information.