It is refreshing to see that environmental issues are getting more of the spotlight in recent times. Even more so, the changes that individuals are prepared to make in their own homes so that we have a beautiful environment for future generations to enjoy. This week I want to focus on what is going down our sinks and storm drains while we are cleaning. Ultimately, these products will end up in our waterways and can cause a multitude of problems – particularly when the majority of households are also contributing to the problem.
Without going into complex chemistry and boring you all senseless, many of our popular household cleaners contain some form of ammonia or ammonium. Any product containing ammonia (NH3) or ammonium (NH4+) will have a detrimental effect on water quality because it increases the nutrients available for algae and bacteria. The increased nutrient level (eutrophication) combined with natural sunlight results in really good conditions for the growth of harmful algal blooms. These blooms affect fish breeding cycles and aquatic ecosystems but also have a great impact upon our water supply for drinking. They can also make people sick merely through skin contact sustained during recreational activities, such as fishing, swimming or water skiing. Fatalities of livestock after drinking water contaminated with harmful algal blooms have been recorded. The good news however is that we all can help to improve our waterways by being mindful of what goes down our sinks.
There’s something for every budget when it comes to environmentally friendly cleaning products. The majority of these tips I have gleaned from the AFW Home Sweet Home board, from Keep Australia Beautiful or what I do in my own home. My nanna used a lot of these combinations, as does my mum – I guess they have stood the test of time well! :)
- The Cinderella range – I really love these products! They aren’t the cheapest cleaning products around but they do the job well, last a very long time because I use a lot less and they make the whole house smell divine. They are available in Coles and BiLo in Australia and you can order online.
- Bicarb soda and cleaning vinegar – you really can’t beat this simple combination and you can use it for so many purposes. It’s great for cleaning vanities, shower recesses and toilets and can even be used to unclog drains. The vinegar by itself is good for rinsing your washing machine, kettle, dishwasher and other appliances which get a buildup of mineral scale after use. Some people even use bicarb by itself as a carpet deodoriser and stain remover prior to vacuuming.
- Oil of cloves and vinegar – not one I was overly familiar with until recently but it can be used as an alternative to traditional mould removal products, such as Exit Mould
- Eucalyptus oil – apply with newspaper or paper towel to mirrors and it will stop them fogging up.
- Borax and lemon juice paste – providing you are not on a septic system, you can use this paste to clean your toilet.
- Boiled water – this can be an effective cleaner in itself, especially if you are wiping down surfaces that aren’t visibly dirty but may have bacterial contaminants (e.g. kitchen surfaces).
Have you got any ideas that I haven’t mentioned? I’d love to hear them. :D