Cleaning and laundry is an area where people can easily make a real difference to the quality of the environment as well as increasing their well-being and general health.

Cleaning and laundry

Cleaning improves the performance and efficiency of most items, as well as extending their life, for instance you won’t throw out perfectly good clothes if you could get rid of the nasty stains on them.

Cleaning improves the healthiness of your home reducing a variety of health costs. Besides, having a clean home just makes you feel good. The irony is that in making your home and clothes brighter and fresher, you may inadvertently pollute the air and water. This page contains some things to keep in mind.

Nothing is completely safe

Almost anything we dump down our drains, even if derived from plants and other “natural” substances, can cause problems. Even with the increasing number of greener products on the market, none are perfectly safe for the earth.

Don’t accept vague claims

Words like “biodegradable” or “non -toxic” have no legal definitions. Ask companies to substantiate their environmental claims in plain English.

Avoid cleaners containing phosphates

Phosphates biodegrade totally and quickly but when they get into rivers and lakes, they cause algal blooms which rob the water of oxygen, block sunlight and ultimately kill the aquatic life.

Minimise use of bleaches

The most common bleach is chlorine, which in wastewater can create toxic compounds. Non-chlorine bleaches are more gentle to clothes and the environment, though they are less effective in colder-water temperatures, requiring more energy-intensive hot water.

Buy concentrates whenever possible

Use refillable versions that allow you to refill a spray bottle by adding water to a packaged concentrate. The cleaning industry is moving further towards environmental friendliness with the introduction of concentrates and dilution systems.

These systems use less chemical content, therefore reducing environmental damage from overuse. Also, concentrates reduce the need for excessive packaging (as do refill packs) and transporting, providing an overall improvement on current cleaning trends.

Try some eco-friendly homemade alternatives

Before the advent of handy synthetic cleaners people made use of everyday, natural products like baking soda, lemon juice, vinegar and borax for their cleaning.

Click here to find out about some alternative cleaners