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Published on: 30th August 2019
2nd September 2019
We all know that there are lots of small steps we can take to be greener and more environmentally friendly. One of those ways is to use less chemicals when cleaning. And that does not mean you have to live in muck! Here, Von Sy, Founder of Nimble, shares some top tips so you can clean up effectively but with a minimal impact to the planet.
The pleasant smell of flowers, citrus, and lavender undoubtedly make housework more pleasant and give the impression of super-cleanliness. But did you know that fragrances are actually made with a complex range of chemicals that usually contain allergens? It’s best to stay away from cleaning products with strong fragrances, especially the ones that you interact with a lot, such as on clothes, food dishes and work surfaces. The fumes can be irritating, so avoiding these will be beneficial.
Air fresheners are also notorious for having lots of chemical fragrances that can pollute our homes. If you’re using air fresheners to get rid of smells at home, then it might be good to switch over to things like activated charcoal that can naturally absorb odour molecules in the air. You can also try airing your house by opening your windows regularly. If you have multiple windows, open at least two windows so the air will circulate better in the rooms.
Essential oils in a diffuser could be good alternatives to air fresheners as they are normally extracted from natural sources. However, be mindful that, as with many things, too much of something can be bad and this applies to essential oils too. We know that fragrances can bring so much delight, so all we can say is to keep things in moderation. If you’re happy to change things up, why not try putting indoor plants in each room – especially in the rooms where you spend a lot of time. They are scientifically proven to improve the air quality at home and also create a calmer environment.
Most of the mainstream cleaning products are over-formulated which means they contain unnecessary levels of chemicals that can be harmful to the environment. Manufacturers do this so they can make bolder marketing claims like ‘10X better than brand X’. But as the saying goes ‘you don’t need a sledgehammer to crack a nut’ and this is certainly true when it comes to cleaning products. So why not dilute the cleaning products a little more than normal? You’ll get more or less the same results, but with less of the harsh smells coming through and far less chemicals going into the environment.
For washing up, instead of your normal big squirt of washing-up liquid, try squirting less or make up your washing bowl with more water in it. Again, you’ll still get the same result but you’ll use fewer chemicals (and save money). Another trick is to soak the dishes in warm water before you start washing up. Warm water will soften and loosen the oily and fatty residues, which will become eventually easier to scrub out later on.
Cleaning products are usually made of chemicals derived from the oil and gas industry. Petroleum is dug out of the earth and heavily processed to become ‘surfactants'.
Surfactants are the main workhorse in cleaning products. Most stains are oily in nature, so water alone cannot remove them because as we all know, water and oil don’t mix. What surfactants do is it allow water to mix very well with oil, by lowering the surface tension of water to behave more like oil. This tricks the oil into thinking that water is “oil” so they end up mixing, which then results to oil coming off from a surface.
These petroleum-based surfactants are widely available and have been around for many decades, which means that they are cheap and easy. They are also quite effective, that’s why most manufacturers use them. However, the problem with these is that they have a lot of impurities and heavy metals that could potentially be unsafe. And, of course, they come from fossil fuels which we know are damaging to the environment and cause climate change.
Although surfactants are inevitable in cleaning products – they don’t need to be petroleum based. We can now create surfactants from plant-based resources that give excellent cleaning performance with a very good safety and environmental profile.
If you have tried eco cleaning products before but not found them as effective as you’d like, now may be a good time to try again. Eco products are made with plant-based ingredients that do work just as well as chemical cleaning products, but are gentler on the skin and better for the environment.
For example, Nimble makes eco- (and child-) friendly cleaning products like Milk Buster (baby bottle cleaner), Sticky Stopper (bleach-free antibacterial cleaner), and Laundry Lover (residue-free baby detergent) powered by ingredients derived from coconuts, corn, seeds and sugar cane.
Kitchen staple items like lemon, baking soda and vinegar are also good alternatives. These work by exposing the dirty things to an acidic or alkaline environment that helps break down fatty, greasy residues. Just keep an eye out for the residues that can be left behind by these natural cleaners like pulp from the lemon or a strong vinegar smell.
Do take note that some brands tend to redesign their packs to make them appear ‘eco’. They do this by adding a few things like leaves or making the pack colours a little paler or making the liquid inside colourless. True eco products genuinely use plant-based ingredients rather than petroleum-based ones, so if the brand writes this on their pack, then chances are that they are true eco products. Again, it’s always worth reading the ingredient list to be absolutely sure.
Hopefully, these tips will help you keep your home both green and clean. Chemical-based cleaning products from trusted manufacturers have passed stringent safety testing and they comply with the regulatory requirements. However, times are changing and better options are now available, so it’s best to review your repertoire and see if you can replace them with even safer ones – safer for you and for the planet.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Von Sy is founder of Nimble, the UK’s first and only range of child-friendly household cleaning products powered by plant-based ingredients. Nimble’s award-winning, patented products are available in major retailers including Boots, Ocado and Amazon and are exported abroad.
Nimble has been featured in the BBC’s ‘The customer is always right’ – winning best product, and the range is featured in the new royal baby book “Our Royal Baby”,written by Royal Commentator and HRH The Prince of Wales biographer, Robert Jobson and published by St. James’s House.