Here are some facts, and some tips on how to be ‘cleaner’ in your home…
The main ingredient in many commercial cleaners is surfactants (detergents) which help remove grease and dirt. These can be naturally derived from vegetable substances but many big brands use petroleum derivatives. These are non-renewable and biodegrade slower and not as completely as the naturally derived alternatives. They can also form dangerous chemicals during the degrading process.
Try reduce the use of unnecessary and poisonous chemicals
European governments are discussing policies to give consumers the right to know about all the chemicals in household cleaners, but for now we have to do our own research!
All bleaches act by oxidising, which sterilises organic matter, undermining the bacterial action that breaks down sewage.
What can I do then?
Keep it simple, try to use one type of multisurface cleaner for all household jobs.
Choose Ecover and Bio D products (these can also be refilled in some places including the Green Action Co-op at Uni and Out of This World in town) as these use acids which dislodge waste rather than sterilise it. Ecover is owned by Unilever though.
Use concentrated products in smaller bottles. Water is the main ingredient in many commercial cleaners and transporting it wastes energy and packaging. Choose products packaged in HDPE, LDPE, PP, PE and PET plastics as these have fewer environmental problems in their manufacture and disposal than PVC (shown by a 3 inside a recycle symbol.
Hand made soap keeps more people employed! Suma and other firms use a cold saponification process which is more energy efficient than commercial processing that uses a boiling process (this could consume up to 65kw hours of electricity and 15 tons of water in producing one ton of soap).
White vinegar, baking powder, lemon juice, and olive oil are all useful for cleaning.