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Natural Cleaning Products: Here's What to Buy (and Why)

natural-cleaning-products1Mainstream cleaning products can contain chemicals that are toxic to women and children. And as women still do most cleaning (both in the household and as professional cleaners), we're more affected by these chemicals than men are. Some of these chemicals can be especially problematic for pregnant women and children. But trying to choose safer cleaning products while you're at the supermarket can be confusing, to say the least. While I was researching this article, I jumped on to Coles Online. There are over 500 cleaning products there. No wonder consumers feel overwhelmed and confused when they're choosing products in the supermarket! I don't shop at supermarkets, but I went into one recently when I was away for the weekend and needed enough food to tide me over. I ended up walking out again. There was so much choice in the cereal aisle alone that I was completely overwhelmed. Studies have shown that consumers spend mere seconds choosing products in the supermarket, so manufacturers use tactics to catch your eye and help you make an instant decision. Names like 'BAM' in bright colours jump out at you. And if you're thinking of eco, you'll see names like 'Earth Choice' which make you think that they're eco friendly. No wonder we feel confused and overwhelmed in the supermarket: manufacturers are deliberately trying to do that to you! So what's the alternative if you're looking to switch to greener cleaning products in the kitchen? You may not want to go DIY. That's understandable. I don't want to spend my weekends mixing up citrus peel cleaning solutions. Packaged products are convenient, but I want to support companies who really are eco and ethical. So we're making it easy for you to swap cleaning products! This week we're starting in the kitchen, with some eco swaps for mainstream cleaning products.

Swap Jif Cream Cleanser for Ecostore Liquid Scourer

jif cream cleanser

ecostore liquid scourerJif is owned by Unilever, and I'd prefer to buy from an independent brand with good ethics. Ecostore's liquid scourer (cream cleanser) does a great job, without the perfumes, colours and environmental toxins. You could also try Ecover's Cream Cleaner, made with plant and mineral based ingredients (including a plant based natural fragrance).

Swap Earth Choice Dishwash Liquid for Ecover Dishwash Liquid

earth choice dishwash liquid lemonecover lemon dishwash liquidYou thought Earth Choice was a better environmental choice? I'm afraid you've been greenwashed. Check the ingredients list for Earth Choice, then swap the synthetic fragrance, colours, SLES, and environmental toxins like benzisothiazolinone. Benzisothiazolinone is also a skin irritant, so if you're washing dishes by hand, I hope you're wearing gloves. Choose Ecover's Dishwash Liquids instead. Made from plant based ingredients, including plant based sugarcane packaging, without the petrochemicals and synthetics. You could also try Resparkle's Dishwashing Liquid, which is certified organic by NASAA. Or Abode's dishwash liquids which are made from plant and mineral based ingredients. And of course, Ecostore has a range of plant and mineral based dishwash liquids, too. I can personally vouch for all of these - I've used them all and they're all incredibly effective.

Swap Ajax Spray & Wipe Kitchen Cleaner for Resparkle Kitchen & Multi Surface Cleaner

ajax spray and wipe kitchen cleanerresparkle kitchen and multi surface cleanerAjax Spray and Wipe Kitchen contains ingredients like methylisothiazolinone (MIT), methylchloroisothiazol (MCI),  and octylisothiazolinone. MIT is a strong allergen. Although you're not using it directly on your skin, you are spraying it and then leaving it on kitchen surfaces. MCI is also a strong allergen, and so is octylisothiazolinone. Octylisothiazolinone is also an environmental hazard and is highly toxic to aquatic life. There's evidence that MIT is toxic to marine life, too. Skip it. Choose Resparkle's Kitchen & Multi Surface Cleaner instead. It's made from plant based ingredients like bitter orange oil extract, glycerine and lemon essential oil instead. Much safer and just as effective. Or try Abode's plant and mineral based surface sprays, Ecostore's multi purpose spray cleaners, or Ecover's multi surface spray cleaner.

Swap Dettol Antibacterial Surface Cleansing Wipes for a kitchen cloth and spray cleaner

dettol surface cleanser antibacterial wipesI didn't even look at the ingredients for this. Seriously, people, have we got so lazy that we can't spray surface cleaner and wipe it off with a cloth? The wipes in this are not biodegradable, so they're going to end up in landfill. Use a reusable cloth in the kitchen, wash it regularly and hang it in the sun to bleach. If you absolutely MUST have a single use item, go with a paper towel and some surface spray. At least the paper towel will biodegrade.

Swap Finish All in One Dishwasher Tablets for Ecostore Dishwasher Tablets

finish all in one dishwasher tabletsecostore dishwasher tabletsThe problem here in one word: phosphates. The largest ingredient in Finish dishwasher tablets is phosphates. Phosphates cause the growth of large amounts of algae (algal bloom). The algae uses up all the oxygen in the water, and kills of plant and animal life in the process. Phosphates were banned in the EU in laundry detergents in 2013, and will be banned in dishwasher detergents in 2017. But it's simple to carry out your own ban - just don't buy detergents with phosphates. Switch to Ecostore's Dishwasher Tablets, which are phosphate free. I've been using them for years, and I can tell you that my dishes and glasses come out sparkling. Ecover also has dishwasher tablets. If you prefer dishwasher powder, Ecostore does that, too. And so does Resparkle, and Abode. None of these products contains phosphates.

Swap Mr Muscle for Ecover Oven & Hob

Mr Muscle Odourless Oven Cleanerecover oven and hob cleanerI'm a little scared of Mr Muscle Non Caustic Oven Cleaner. The instructions shout: Wear thick rubber gloves and eye protection at all times. Always make sure that no part of your body/hair/clothes comes into contact with sprayed areas. Avoid breathing fumes, mist, vapours or spray. That's okay, Mr Muscle. I'm going to leave you on the shelf, and go with Ecover's Oven & Hob Cleaner instead. Or you could go with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar, left on overnight, then wiped out in the morning. I've done this, and it definitely works. Have you swapped mainstream product for eco friendly? What's your verdict?
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