When I lived alone for the first time, I did everything like my Mum. I filled my closet with very specific and expensive cleaning products. A product for my stainless steel sink. One for the windows. One to fight lime in the bathroom. A bleach for the toilet. A liquid soap for the floors. A wood spray for the furniture. I hated cleaning my home: I was breathing toxic particles, my eyes pricked. After using a spray to clean a messy oven caked with burnt food, I understood my mistake. I lost my sense of smell for 24 hours…
At the same time, as a biology student, I became acquainted with the sad reality of modern farming. I started to shop organic. I replaced my conventional cleaning products with their eco-friendly (but as expensive) equivalents. After hours or reading and learning, I was ready to use only these three ingredients in the house: Vinegar, soap and baking soda. And it’s so easy …
But first, why avoid industrial cleaning products?
- Getting rid of all bacteria is dangerous for everyone! Living in a bug-free environment prevents our immune system from being in contact with harmless bacteria which don’t making us sick but train our immune system. Second, unnecessarily eliminating bacteria only promotes the selection of resistant strains. Just like antibiotics.
- Conventional cleaning products are toxic for your health. This 2013 French study indicates that 91% of household products produce carcinogenic emissions! It is very simple: Virtually no industrial cleaning product reveals the names of the molecules that constitute it. Otherwise, savvy consumers could ask Google what it is… and loose sleep. In addition, little is known about the interactions between the different constituents of household products: If ingredient 1 and ingredient 2 are toxic, what about the mixture of the two?
- Household products are toxic for your planet. A large fraction of used cleaning products ends up in the water (e.g. when you clean your shower). Although this water is most often treated in a special plant, some of it can not be cleaned and is released into the environment. Aquatic environments are hugely contaminated, with a disastrous impact on aquatic fauna and flora. For example, it upsets the endocrine system of fish and crustaceans, their fertility decreases. Chlorine bleach combines with certain molecules to form organochlorines, which are extremely toxic and difficult to de-pollute. Finally, the vast majority of cleaning products are petroleum-based. Buying these products means enriching the oil-producing countries. But it also enriches spin-off industries. Most often, the compounds of your detergent are manufactured in Asia, particularly in China, in deplorable environmental and human conditions (pollution, risk of explosions, human exploitation, etc.).
- Cleaning products are toxic for your wallet. Does the word ‘cartel’ rings a bell? Have you noticed that the price of cleaning products is ever rising? The few companies that manufacture them illegally collude to rise prices. It’s like: I raise my prices, but so do you: It’s a win-win. Sometimes the collusions come to light, and are punished. Finally, no one needs a specific cleaning product for every surface or object in the home! To argue otherwise is simply a way of creating new markets and pushing for consumption.
All this is too costly in terms of health, environment and money! In addition, there exists healthy alternatives. They are non-toxic and very inexpensive. Let me tell you about my multi-purpose cleaning product!
I have already talked at length about vinegar’s many uses in the home here (in French for now). I give you many ways to use pure vinegar. Today, we make a multi-purpose cleaning product with it.
I use mainly white vinegar (in France, it costs 50 to 70 cents per liter: So cheap!). To make it more efficient and smell better, I macerate lemon peels, those I have after making my morning smoothie! After about 2 weeks of maceration, the vinegar smells fabulous and has a beautiful yellow colour. I dilute it slightly to make a multi-purpose cleaning product. This single product does almost everything. No need to have a cupboard filled with different products.
- In a spray bottle, I use this multifunctional product to clean the toilet, kitchen counters or cupboards, oven, fridge and tiles. It makes stainless steel shine (for bathtubs, I prefer baking soda, which better removes the soap residue).
- With a microfiber cloth, I use it to clean mirrors, the oven door, to make the faucets shine, to clean my computer or my mobile phone.
- I soak my toothbrush and hairbrush from time to time (one night) to clean them up.
- I use the undiluted citrus vinegar as a softener for laundry (put it in place of the softener in the corresponding compartment in the machine, about 1/2 cup).
Citrus-scented cleaning vinegar
Makes 1 L
- 1 liter white vinegar
- Peels of 1 lemon (no need to remove the white pith)
Combine and leave it for 1-2 weeks.
Multi-purpose cleaning product
Makes 1 L
- 700 ml citrus vinegar (see above)
- 300 ml water
- Optional: 10 drops of tea-tree essential oil (or cloves, niaouli…)
Use a sieve to remove the citrus peels if needed. Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle, shake, and use.…