Chemicals in cleaning products can cause or irritate asthma, allergies, eczema and other autoimmune disorders. Try to avoid contact with harsh chemicals and use natural ingredients instead while housekeeping. Use Organic cleaning agents instead, they contain lesser harmful chemicals, fragrances and dyes that can aggravate your skin condition while cleaning. A growing number of commercial non-toxic home cleaning products are also available, as healthier and environmentally responsible alternatives.
Your use of these products helps promote the growth of green businesses which are contributing to a sustainable economy. Here are two online retailers in Singapore:
There are many inexpensive and less harmful ingredients out there for cleaning. Here are some basic ones:
- Lemon: one of the strongest food-acids, effective against most household bacteria.
- Borax: (sodium borate) cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens water, cleans wallpaper, painted walls and floors.
- White Vinegar – cuts grease, removes mildew, odours, some stains and wax build-up. (See: fairprice)
- Washing Soda: or SAL Soda is sodium carbonate decahydrate, a mineral. Washing soda cuts grease, removes stains, softens water, cleans wall, tiles, sinks and tubs. Use care, as washing soda can irritate mucous membranes. Do not use on aluminium. (See: https://redmart.com/search/Washing%20Soda)
- Isopropyl Alcohol – is an excellent disinfectant. (It has been suggested to replace this with ethanol or 100 proof alcohols in solution with water. There is some indication that isopropyl alcohol build-up contributes to illness in the body. (See: http://www.medicalsupplies.com.sg/surgical/disinfectants/isopropyl-alcohol-70-v-v-500ml.html)
- Corn Starch: can be used to clean windows, polish furniture, shampoo carpets and rugs. (see: https://redmart.com/baby/baby-toiletries/bath-shower)
- Baking Soda: cleans, deodorizes, softens water, scours. (See : http://www.fairprice.com.sg/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10001&productId=41666&urlRequestType=Base&catalogId=10051)
- Unscented Soap – unscented soap in liquid form, flakes, powders or bars is biodegradable and will clean just about anything. Avoid using soaps which contain petroleum distillates. (See: https://redmart.com/search/unscented%20soap%20)
Level I Hacks
There are simple ways of replacing all the chemicals in cleaning products using a Combination of the above basic ingredients:
Mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda (or 2 teaspoons borax) into 2 litres of water. Store in spray bottle. You can add on castille soap or essential oils (e.g. lavender, orange, or lemon) if you want.
Use for removal of water deposit stains on shower stall panels, bathroom chrome fixtures, windows, bathroom mirrors, etc.
Or use a citrus-based natural all-purpose cleaner.
Another alternative would be microfiber cloths which lift off dirt, grease and dust without the need for cleaning chemicals, because they are formulated to penetrate and trap dirt. There are a number of different brands. A good quality cloth can last for several years.
Air Freshener / Deodorant:
Commercial air fresheners mask smells and coat nasal passages to diminish the sense of smell. Viable alternatives to deodorize include:
- Baking soda or vinegar with lemon juice in small dishes absorbs odours around the house.
- Having houseplants helps reduce odours in the home.
- Prevent cooking odours by simmering vinegar (1 tbsp. in 1 cup water) on the stove while cooking. To get such smells as fish and onion off utensils and cutting boards, wipe them with vinegar and wash in soapy water.
- Soak plastic food storage containers overnight in warm water and baking soda
- Keep fresh coffee grounds on the counter.
- Grind up a slice of lemon or orange peel in the garbage disposal under sink
- Simmer water and cinnamon or other spices on stove.
- Place bowls of fragrant dried herbs and flowers in room.
- Sprinkle baking soda on carpets several hours before vacuuming.
- Set a sliced onion on a plate in area that are less used and possibly mouldy (e.g. basements or garages) for 12 – 24 hours
Level II Hacks (once you have implemented Level I, which is bite-sized)
Mix 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons vinegar and 3 cups hot water. For stronger cleaning power add 1/4 teaspoon liquid castile soap. Wipe on with dampened cloth or use non-aerosol spray bottle. (This is not an antibacterial formula. The average kitchen or bathroom does not require antibacterial cleaners.) For those with a dishwasher, you can disinfect kitchen sponges by putting them in the dishwasher when running a load.
Mix equal parts of borax and washing soda, but increase the washing soda if your water is hard. Or consider a citrus-based natural dish soap.
Coffee and Tea Stains in Cups:
Stains in cups can be removed by applying vinegar to a sponge and wiping. To clean a teakettle or coffee maker, add 2 cups water and 1/4 cup vinegar; bring to a boil. Let cool, wipe with a clean cloth and rinse thoroughly with water.
Chopping Block Cleaner:
Rub a slice of lemon across a chopping block to disinfect the surface. For tougher stains, squeeze some of the lemon juice onto the spot and let sit for 10 minutes, then wipe.
Mix 1 cup Ivory soap (or Fels Naptha soap), 1/2 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup borax. Use 1 tbsp. for light loads; 2 tbsp for heavy loads.
Here are two links for making laundry detergent:
Oil & Grease Spots:
For small spills on the garage floor, add baking soda and scrub with wet brush.
Mix 2 teaspoons of white vinegar with 1 litre (qt) warm water. Use crumpled newspaper or cotton cloth to clean. Only use the black and white newspapers, not the coloured ones. Don’t clean windows if the sun is on them, or if they are warm, or streaks will show on drying. Be sure to follow the recipe, because using too strong a solution of vinegar will etch the glass and eventually cloud it. The All-Purpose Cleaner (above) also works well on windows.
Bathroom Mould Cleaning:
Mould in bathroom tile grout is a common problem and can be a health concern. Mix one part hydrogen peroxide (3%) with two parts water in a spray bottle and spray on areas with mould. Wait at least one hour before rinsing or using shower.