Being eco-friendly can be difficult – especially when someone says the words “natural cleaning”. What does that mean? Am I going to have to scrub sides with asparagus, wash the dishes with carrot juice and bathe in chopped tomatoes!? The answer, thankfully, is no. Natural cleaning can be easy. We cleaned a student kitchen using one recipe that can last all year round – but why did we bother?
Small amounts of chemical compounds found in cleaning products sometimes make their way into our water. This can cause a growth in algae which sounds like a good thing, right? Wrong… Algae eats away at water’s oxygen which is dangerous for biodiversity. Even more dangerous are the chemicals in the water that can mimic hormones in mammals and fish and affect their growth and reproduction.
Chemicals aside, cleaning products suffer from the same problems that a majority of big brand products suffer from today. The first big problem that most brands support is the use of plastic in packaging. This stuff is everywhere, but thanks to Attenborough (blessed be thy name) we are starting to see public awareness increase. By cleaning naturally, you can help reduce the amount of plastic that you are using. Whilst you may end up storing your cleaning product in a plastic bottle, you can continue to use it for many years as opposed to throwing away a single-use one and buying another.
The second big problem is delivery. Getting them here uses a lot of fuel. Whilst this is improving with home deliveries (one van going around town rather than hundreds going to the store) there is still a lot of change that needs to happen to reduce the impact of fossil fuels on the environment.
So What Can We Do?
The answer is Natural Cleaning! You can use natural ingredients that are not harmful to yourself or the environment that leave your house spotless and smelling surprisingly good! And there’s no better place to test it than your humble student accommodation! You may actually end up wanting to clean your shared kitchen… maybe.
Find out how one natural cleaning product took a house from this…
WARNING: read up on your products. Do not mix chemicals that haven’t been shown to mix safely and always wear gloves!
‘When life gives you lemons…. Make multi-purpose cleaner!’
- ½ cup white vinegar (£9.73 for 4 litres)
- ¼ cup of bicarbonate of soda (4.85 for 500g)
- 2 litres of water
- Lemon slices
This multi-surface cleaner worked a treat, and on some pretttty grimy surfaces. It tackled oven goo, sticky sides and stubborn stains! It is a large (for a student) one off payment of £15 for this cleaner’s ingredients but this can last you above and beyond a year. With under 30’s spending on average £1.50 a week (that’s £78 a year) on cleaning products, it doesn’t seem too bad! See it in action:
Natural cleaning doesn’t just happen in the kitchen, you can attack that huge pile of clothes you’ve been ignoring in the corner of your room too!
- 1 bar shaved soap
- ½ cup of soda crystals (£4.35 for 1kg)
- ½ cup of borax or borax substitute (£3.29 for 500g)
This works just as well as your shop-bought detergent and doesn’t come with a side of environmentally-unfriendly guilt! Just load into the washing machine as normal and let the magic happen.
As well as cleaning the house and your clothing, you can make cleaning yourself more eco-friendly!
- Jojoba oil
- Witch Hazel
- Old cloth (I just used an old T-shirt)
I figured the best way to test this was to throw a load of mascara on and rub dark purple eye shadow EVERYWHERE. This is not a look I would recommend…
This recipe had no problems with eye shadow, foundation or eyebrow pencil but a little more scrubbing is needed for the waterproof mascara! Still, it works a treat and might encourage you to go fresh faced a little more often!
So, there you have it. 3 easy ways to keep your house, clothes and yourself clean without harming the environment. If you’re interested in more recipes, you can find more here!
About the Author: Charlie Bedwell is a third year Psychology student at the University of Reading.