HOW TO REDUCE DETERGENT CONSUMPTION AND WHAT TO USE INSTEAD?
Washing powders, products for cleaning and disinfecting sanitary devices, dishwashing liquids, window cleaners… Cleaning products are complicated mixtures of chemical compounds (including detergents) with different properties, selected according to their purpose. We buy and use more and more of them without considering their impact on the natural environment and our health.
When detergents enter wastewater, they contribute to the release of toxic substances (including methane and hydrogen sulphide) as a result of anaerobic processes. In consequence, this leads to the disappearance of life in the water reservoir where detergents end up in. Moreover, detergents cause the foaming of water, and foam disrupts the operation of devices in wastewater treatment plants. In addition, phosphates, which are an ingredient of many detergent products, promote blooms of cyanobacteria which lead to the reduction of oxygen concentration in water. This results in the reduction of fish populations and plant overgrowth in water reservoirs. Cyanobacteria produce strong toxins that are dangerous to human health and life.
Let us not forget that all harmful substances which have entered the natural environment reach our bodies with the uptake of water and food. Most often we accumulate them in the liver, muscles or adipose tissue – and our health suffers.
What are alternatives to chemical detergents?
- Baking soda. It is a natural and environmentally-friendly, universal “cleaning agent”. When added to washing powders, it improves their effectiveness (even in the fight against greasy stains!). It also works well in cleaning surfaces such as sinks and bathtubs. For this purpose use a thick paste, which can be prepared by mixing soda with water. To deal with unpleasant smell, put a bowl with baking soda in the chosen place, and after a few hours there will be no trace of it. In order to obtain the aroma of citrus freshness, mix soda with water and lemon juice.
- Vinegar. Used (as concentrated and diluted solutions) by our grandmothers in household cleaning, vinegar is known for its preservative, healing and cleaning properties. The most popular 6% or 10% distilled vinegar degreases and softens water, and thanks to that it copes perfectly with dirt, scale and greasy stains. Due to its bactericidal activity, vinegar can be used for cleaning kitchen countertops and bathroom surfaces. In addition, it facilitates the removal of sediment from cutlery and fittings. And if we want our dishes to shine, it is enough to add vinegar to water and wipe dishes with a moistened sponge to make them sparkle.
- Plant-based soap. Soap without any synthetic additives which is biodegradable and non-toxic can be used not only for maintaining personal hygiene. You can also use it to prepare a natural cleaning or washing agent.
- While cleaning, microfibre cloths come in handy too. Thanks to them you can limit the consumption of cleaning agents. Microfibres are synthetic fibres with are much thinner than cotton ones, hence they cope with dirt better and do not need chemical additives.
If you find this topic interesting and want to learn more about environmentally-friendly ways of cleaning the house, please refer to the publication entitled “Eko sztuczki w domu” (Eco tricks at home) published by the Capital City of Warsaw.