27 August 2009
Green Cleaning for a Healthier Home and Planet
We don’t like cleaning, but we like it when it’s clean; healthy clean that is. So at the R3project, we clean with as little toxins as possible. Here is how and what with:
We vacuum the rug and hard floor if necessary, and then swipe the cork floor with a slightly moist mop. If you have serious stains, add some vinegar or eucalyptus oil, which disinfects and leaves a nice smell behind.
To get the smell out of a carpet, sprinkle it with baking soda, let sit 30 minutes and vacuum.
Windows and Mirrors
Vinegar does the trick! Fill half a spray bottle with distilled white vinegar and fill up with water. Spray onto the glass and mirrors and wipe off with old newspaper; it works!
A good all-purpose-cleaner is 45 ml of baking soda and 1 litre of warm water mixed in a spray bottle or bucket.
Alternatively, if you prefer to buy green cleaning products, there are more and more brands on the markets, although not many are available in Spain yet. However, Veritas sells a few brands amongst which Ecover.
For greasy surfaces, try the local product, KH-7, the first grease remover in Europe to bear the European Union Eco-label. It is available in most mainstream supermarkets. Check out the EU eco-label web site to find more products near you.
To wipe surfaces, use old cloth rags instead of kitchen paper; it saves trees and money! Servei Estació has a whole range of eco cleaning products (mops, wiping rags, etc.) with microfibres so you don’t need to add any soap to get the dirt of the surfaces.
Due to lack of space we don’t have a dishwasher, which would save us plenty of work, energy, water and soap. The University of Bonn in Germany compared dishwashing with handwashing:
“The Bonn study proves that the dishwasher uses only half the energy and one-sixth of the water, less soap too. Even the most sparing and careful washers could not beat the modern dishwasher.” [via TreeHugger]
So until we figure out where to put a dishwasher, we try to use as less water as possible when washing-up, filling the sink rather than washing under the running tap, and we use a biodegradable soap available at Veritas.
Our A+ efficient washing machine already saves on water, and until recently we used Ecover washing powder to clean our clothes. A few weeks ago though, we bought an Robby Wash Laundry Ball at Veritas (25€), an alternative to using washing powder. The ball, which you simply place with the clothes in the washing machine, contains activated macromolecules that are gradually released through the wash, dissolving dried-in stains by generating ions, which activate the water molecules.
Drying is done on a washing line of course, a right people in Spain still have, unlike in the US! Watch the video Drying for Freedom.
We don’t really like fragrant air, but instead prefer to ventilate the house well. For those of you who like friendly aromas in your home, try boiling cinnamon, cloves, lavender or any other herbs you like, instead of air fresheners. Indoor plants (such as Peace Lilies or any other green leaved plants) also help to purify the air, without giving off a smell.
If you are confused about ingredients of the detergents available in your supermarket, use Green Generation’s Label Reading Guide, which you can download onto your computer or iPhone. Simply type in an ingredient and it helps you to understand its potential risk to the environment if there is one.
For more recipes about how to mix your own cleaners, visit Planet Green, Assemble a Green Cleaning Kit.