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Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

My multi-purpose cleaning kit

My cleaning kit

Credit: JulieG

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If we're to believe the manufacturers of cleaning products, a proper cleaning kit needs to have all of these items: glass cleaner, oven cleaner, dishwashing liquid, all-purpose spray, toilet cleaner, toilet freshener, room sprays, carpet sprays, laundry powder, fabric softener, stain-remover, dryer pads, gloves, sponges, cloths, paper towels, disposable wipes, brooms, mops, scrubbing brushes, bleach, disinfectant and a permanently-smiling housewife.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds exhausting to me. And makes me feel a little bit worried about all those chemicals. It’s not just our health, that stuff goes into our waterways as well.

This is my entire cleaning kit:

  • bicarbonate of soda and a bottle of vinegar - the bigger the package, the better, as I’m still buying things in bulk
  • a couple of microfibre cloths
  • a broom/mop combo: one cloth for each purpose that goes on a long handle
  • eco-friendly dishwashing liquid, laundry powder and toilet cleaner
  • kept for emergencies: one eco-friendly all-purpose spray for anything that doesn’t respond to any of the above, and disinfectant. The bottles are a bit dusty now, because I hardly use them!

I don’t bother with the rest, I think they’re unnecessary. Regular cleaning means that you don’t need air- or fabric-fresheners and bleach. Bicarb and vinegar handle most mess if water doesn’t do it, plus they aren’t so harsh on your hands that you need all the gloves and so on to protect yourself. You just sprinkle on the bicarb, spray on the vinegar and use a cloth to wipe down the surface. If you don’t like the vinegar smell, lemon juice is almost as good, but more expensive.

It’s possible to make your own dishwashing liquid and so on, but I don’t have that much free time right now. I’d like to try it sometime though - if you’ve got a good recipe, please let me know in the comments!

And as for the disposable wipes and cloths and paper towels: what a waste! It’s not any more hygienic, it’s just a way to get you to spend more money after they can’t get you to buy any more room-freshener. I like the microfibre cloths, but even they are guilty of insisting that you need a separate one for every surface in the house. And clean old rags would do almost as good a job, too - they just need a bit more elbow-grease, which is always free.

So a few multi-purpose cleaning products is all you need to be clean and hygienic. This is an area where a little eco-friendly change has a lot of benefits - why not give it a go?