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A domesticated view of the world – join the conversation with Alex Brooks

The Cleanhouse Effect

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Housekeeping is a lot like eating steamed vegetables. You know it's good for you, but that Mars Bar is so much more tempting.

I envy those people who commit acts of neatness on a regular basis. I've always wanted to be someone who can straighten a kitchen in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, my house, life and habits haven't merged to make that happen for me.

While most of us appreciate the zen feeling of a clean and tidy house, embracing a planet-friendly cleaning regime can seem greener-than-thou and as enticing as wearing hessian high heels. What could be worse than trying to clean a dunny without the gun power of hardcore cleaning chemicals? Bicarbonate of Soda? Pah!

But it's worth it. Truly.

Think about this: spraying those chemicals inside the home adds to indoor air pollution. Then our slacko cleaning abilities means chemicals are left all over the household surfaces for children and pets to ingest and inhale (American writer Dierdre Imus says the gasses given off by many cleaning chemicals tend to hover down at floor level, ready for the most vulnerable household members to breathe in.) Ick.

I confess to being a planet-murdering housekeeper in the past. Here is my list of sins:

  1. I love thick, gluggy Domestos, a chlorine bleach that cleans the toilet and bathroom quite unlike anything else.
  2. Yes, I have deluded myself that spraying copious quantities of cleaning chemicals on to a kitchen bench somehow makes the world a cleaner place.
  3. The smell of bleach, and Pine O'Cleen, is joy to my nostrils.
  4. Overloading the washing machine dispenser with detergent has been a pleasure - if the washing smells detergenty then surely it's cleaner?

Ah, there are plenty more of cleaning sins I've committed but that's enough planet-guilt for one day. I have changed. Yeah. Truly. And it wasn't that hard.

BABY STEPS: Reduce the amount of chemicals (my trigger finger is still tempted to go machine-gun style, but I hold back).
BIGGER STEPS: Replace the old-style cleaners with newer, planet-friendly brands which avoid the use of chlorine bleach, ammonias and phosphates. It's even better to go for biodegradable and naturally sourced ingredients. There's plenty available in supermarkets these days, right next to the regular products and some of them clean as well as - or better - than so-called normal products. I'm loving that Orange Power spray.
BOLD STEPS: Learn to love microfibre cloths and embrace chemical-free cleaning routines such as wiping the shower down with a squeegee after use.

The freaky thing is that planet-friendly cleaning might actually make you LIKE housework. A little. Maybe. (well the smell of Solution Living's Rose Geranium floor and bathroom cleaner is enough to make you want to clean the floors twice ... truly, I did it on the weekend.)