Should we be switching to natural cleaning products?

If a deep clean is on your to-do list, chances are you’re having a root around to see which household cleaning products need topping up.

And more than a passing thought, you might be asking yourself if some of these items can be swapped out for something kinder to the planet – but with the same confidence to get the job done.

Indeed, you only need to look at the ingredients in some products to raise an eyebrow.

“Many traditional cleaning products are packed full of harmful chemicals that can have a devastating impact on our environment, wildlife, and aquatic life,” warns eco-cleaning expert Sue Caldwell from Clean Living International.

Not only do these products poison marine life and wildlife every time they go down the drain by polluting our oceans, she says they can also seriously impact our health.

“As we breathe in and absorb the substances we add to our homes every time we clean.”


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Laura Harnett, founder of Seep eco cleaning products, says: “Everyone is rightly more concerned about the environment than ever before. The small changes we can make every day will add up to help drive big change.”

And while we’re well informed about microplastics and the effect they have on our oceans, Ms Harnett says a lot of people don’t know that when they use certain washing up sponges (which are made from plastic) they’re releasing micro plastics every single time they wash up.

What are natural cleaning products?

Natural cleaning products don’t contain harmful chemicals, bleach or plastics.

Switching to natural cleaning products is a win-win. (Alamy/PA)

“They clean the home hygienically and effectively without releasing anything damaging into the air or water,” explains Ms Harnett. “Don’t forget the tools you use to clean your home, such as cloths and sponges, can be just as harmful as chemical disinfectants.”

Ms Harnett says to look for eco alternatives for brushes, cloths, sponges and bin bags too.

Why should we make the switch?

Toxic ingredients can be extremely dangerous if they come into contact with our skin, inhaled or ingested, cautions Ms Caldwell.

“For example, toxins can seep through the skin and enter the bloodstream when we’re enjoying a relaxing bath; they can aggravate skin conditions such as eczema, and harmful particles in the air can aggravate respiratory issues such as asthma,” notes Ms Caldwell.

She says the main ingredients to watch out for include sodium hydroxide, ammonia, chlorine, phosphate and solvent, all of which are commonly found in some household cleaners and used in many homes daily.

How to make the switch

A more sustainable lifestyle starts by making considered purchases.

Remember the three Rs… refilling, reusing and recycling. (Alamy/PA)

Before you purchase any product, Ms Caldwell says to ask yourself if you really need it; or whether you can buy a more planet-friendly alternative.

“Take a few moments to read what’s actually in the products rather than just grabbing your usual brand, or the latest offer off the supermarket shelf.”

You can cut down on waste by refilling, reusing and recycling. Buy in bulk or concentrates to reduce unnecessary packaging and shipping. Refill and reuse containers to cut back on the amount going into your household’s bin.

Not only does reusing containers reduce the amount that enters landfills and oceans, but it also lessens the number of trucks on the road – and therefore C02 emissions.


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Always dispose of any unwanted toxic cleaning products responsibly, advises Ms Caldwell, and recycle empty containers wherever possible by rinsing them and popping in the recycling bin.

Many products, such as bleaches, are labelled as hazardous waste and she says these should never be disposed of down the sink. If you’re in doubt, local councils offer advice on how to get rid of unwanted cleaning products safely.

What natural cleaning products can we use?

There are lots of natural cleaning remedies you will already have in your cupboard.

The citric acid in lemons is antibacterial, antiseptic and your secret weapon. (Alamy/PA)

“Baking soda, lemon juice and white distilled vinegar are some of nature’s greatest natural cleaners – and they work wonders for a whole host of common cleaning tasks,” says Ms Caldwell.

You can use these ingredients to clean almost all surfaces in the home by simply mixing equal measures of baking soda with white distilled vinegar and a squeeze of lemon.

“Lemon water is a fantastic natural cleaner, thanks to its anti-bacterial properties. Try adding half a lemon to a bowl of water and popping in your microwave to easily steam clean the inside,” suggests Ms Caldwell.

A little bit of lemon goes a long way in the war against harmful chemicals. (Alamy/PA)

White vinegar and bicarbonate of soda are both miracle workers for cleaning and deodorising, and great for removing stains and stubborn odours from laundry, notes Ms Caldwell.

Meanwhile, Ms Harnett recommends your cleaning cupboard is also stocked with tea tree oil.

“A natural antifungal and antibacterial agent – and it can be used instead of white vinegar to clean hygienically using your reusable spray bottle.”

And while many common air fresheners might smell pleasant, Ms Caldwell says they’re harmful to the environment and to us.

“So freshen up your home by diffusing essential oils or creating scented pouches of lavender instead.”

Do you use natural cleaning products? Why did you make the switch? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments section below.

Also read: Hassle-free bathroom cleaning tips

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