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Room by Room PDF Print E-mail

Bucket and mopThere are safer solutions for every room in your home. Let's go through them, room by room...

Caution:

  • before applying any of the cleaners recommended below, carry out a spot test in a small area to make sure that they do not damage materials
  • some people may suffer skin irritation from eucalyptus and tea tree oil and other natural cleaning products
  • label all containers in which the cleaners are stored
  • store cleaners out of reach of children.

Note:

  • all references to vinegar is to the cheap, white vinegar
  • microfibre cloths can be bought from specialty stores selling environmentally-friendly products as well as from supermarkets.


Kitchen | Bathroom | Living and bedrooms | Laundry | Garage

Kitchen - general  cleaning

  • maintain high standards of cleanliness to reduce unwanted visitors such as cockroaches, mices and ants
  • clean surfaces with hot water or vinegar
  • scour very dirty areas with bicarbonate of soda
  • clean food spills as soon as possible.
Kitchen

Chopping boards

  • clean plastic boards with hot, soapy water
  • wooden boards - use salt sprinkled on the board and cold water to scour
  • season wooden cutting with a small amount of vegetable oil.

Cooking utensils

  • aluminium pots and pans - clean with steel wool and hot soapy water - never bicarbonate of soda
  • stainless steel utensils - sprinkle with bicarbonate of soda then scour with steel wool.

Cupboards

  • immediately clean up food spills in cupboards to deter insects such as cockroaches
  • clean food cupboards monthly
  • clean utensils cupboard annually.

Clean food and utensil cupboards by removing contents then wiping with hot, soapy water. Make sure you reach into the corners. Leave doors open while cupboards dry.

Drain

  • pour a cup of washing soda into the drain followed by boiling water or...
  • a handful of bicarbonate of soda followed by half a cup of vinegar.

To stop material that may cause blockages entering the drain, place a sink sieve in the drainhole.

Dishes

  • use pure soap and add a small amount of vinegar to the rinse water to give your glasses a shine
  • use a bowl of clean, hot water for rinsing your plates and cutlery - rinsing under a running tap wastes water and energy
  • hang sink cleaning cloths and tea towels in direct sunlight for sterilisation by UV (ultraviolet) light.

Floor

  • sweep or vacuum first, then pour a cup of white vinegar into a half-bucket of hot water and clean floor with a mop; do not over-wet the floor
  • spray dirty patches with vinegar, leave for a few minutes then wipe clean
  • for stains and scuff marks, clean with eucalyptus oil.

Avoid hazardous floor cleaning products which may contain formaldehyde, ethanol and chlorine (find out more on these substances at A-Z of Chemicals in the Home ).

Oven

  • wipe oven with a soapy cloth while still warm
  • for a really dirty oven interior, wipe with bicarbonate of soda applied to a damp cloth
  • glass oven doors can be cleaned with bicarbonate of soda
  • spray stove top with white vinegar and wipe clean.

Stained tea and coffee mugs

  • scour with steel wool or with a little bicarbonate of soda on a damp cloth.

Surfaces and sinks

  • sprinkle bicarbonate of soda on a damp cloth to clean surfaces - use sparingly to avoid scratching
  • stainless steel sink - simply wipe with a moist microfibre cloth and dry with an absorbent cloth to remove water and remove habitat in which bacteria breed
  • sink stains - spray with white vinegar and wipe clean; use bicarbonate of soda if the stain is stubborn then wipe with a dry cloth to remove moisture and improve shine.

White goods

  • use vinegar or bicarbonate of soda (if white goods are really grotty) on a damp cloth to clean white goods (refrigerator, stove, bread maker, microwave oven etc); wipe with dry cloth to remove moisture
  • wash refrigerator interior with warm, soapy water or wipe with cloth dipped in bicarbonate of soda.

Windows

  • sprinkle vinegar onto a damp cloth to clean windows and dry wipe with an absorbent cloth
  • for very dirty windows wash with hot, soapy water then rinse with a little vinegar mixed in water; dry with an absorbent cloth to improve shine.

Bathroom

Some commercial cleaning products such as disinfectant, drain cleaners, mould treatments and window cleaners contain very strong and potentially harmful solvents as well as ammonia and chlorine. Compared to simpler and safer products, they are expensive.

Store pharmaceuticals out of reach of children and discard medicines past their use-by date (find use-by date on label).

Bathroom

General cleaning

  • for a clean bathroom, frequently wipe all bathroom fittings, toilet brush handle, bath and shower after use
  • clean hard water marks with vinegar or lemon juice
  • stubborn marks and stains - soak a cloth in vinegar then leave cloth on the stain for an hour before you rub away the marks
  • keep bathroom surfaces such as bench tops and basins clean and dry to discourage mildew and mould.

Air freshners

Instead of synthetic air freshners to mask odours, try opening the window a little to allow fresh air to whisk away smells.

Indoor plants remove pollutants from house hold air. Where there is sufficient light, plant pots with madonna lily, spider plant, Boston fern and English ivy, all known to be useful in the cleansing of household air. Any indoor plant, however, will recycle air through its leaves.

A two-year NASA study found that indoor plants are very effective at removing toxins from the air your family breathes.

Basin, bath, taps and shower recess

  • wash basin, bath and shower recess with cleaners such as white vinegar or bicarbonate of soda
  • fibreglass baths and shower recesses can be wiped clean with a solution of half a cup of washing soda to half a bucket of hot water - don't scratch the surface with an abrasive powder or scourer.

Mirrors

  • use hot water and microfibre cloth then dry wipe with an absorbent cloth or...
  • spray with vinegar and clean; wipe dry with an absorbent cloth
  • wipe with eucalyptus oil to reduce fogging.

Shower curtains

  • spot clean with bicarbonate of soda or vinegar on a damp cloth and rinse clean; hang in the sun to dry
  • wash shower curtain in hot, soapy water and dry in sun.

Shower screens - glass

  • wipe daily with a microfibre cloth to reduce soap build-up
  • to remove soap build-up, rub with a scourer of bicarbonate of soda paste made with a few drops of Castille Soap mixed with the bicarbonate of soda; rinse and clean with a cloth moistened with vinegar and dry wipe with an absorbent cloth
  • regulary clean with vinegar on a damp cloth and dry wipe with an absorbent cloth.

Stains from dripping taps

  • make a paste of borax and lemon juice, rub over stain, leave a few minutes.

Surfaces and walls

  • wash walls and surfaces regularly with hot, soapy water.

Tiles

  • clean grout between tiles with bicarbonate of soda and a toothbrush, rinse well, dry with a cloth
  • for stubborn stains, scrub with a solution of epsom salts and a toothbrush, then rinse with warm water or a vinegar and hot water solution
  • wipe regularly with vinegar solution to deter build-up of dirt between tiles.

Toilet

  • clean frequently with a hot, soapy water solution
  • add a cup of vinegar to the toilet bowl at night and leave; clean with toilet brush next morning
  • to remove stain build-up, rub with bicarbonate of soda
  • spray toilet bowl and seat with vinegar and wipe clean with a moist cloth.

Towels and bath mats

  • wash towels and bath mats weekly
  • hang over side of shower or bath to dry after use or hang in direct sunlight for untraviolet sterilisation.

Living and bedrooms

Irritating and hazardous gases such as formaldehyde are emitted by some particle boards. Use natural materials and fibres for floor covering and decorating fabrics when renovating your living and bedrooms.

Living room

Blinds

  • pull-down blinds are easily cleaned by wiping with a cloth moistened with vinegar
  • dust venetian blinds then wipe down with a cloth moistened with vinegar.

Carpets

  • natural, rather than synthetics materials for carpets, mats, underlays, cushion covers and coverings, do not emit potentially-irritating gases and can often be disposed of by composting
  • spills - rapid application of dry toweling will soak up fluids
  • most stains - treat immediately applying a towel to soak up fluid; sponge with cold water, soda water or a mix of vinegar and cold water; sprinkle bicarbonate of soda on carpet and rug stains then vacuum.

Decorating fabrics and materials

Choose natural materials:

  • wool
  • cotton
  • canvas
  • hemp
  • hessian
  • natural latex.

These, rather than synthetics materials for carpets, mats, underlays, cushion covers and coverings, do not emit potentially-irritating gases and can often be disposed of by composting.

Floors

  • polished timber, cork, slate, terracotta. ceramic floors - vacuum and clean with hot water and vinegar solution as in the bathroom.

Furniture

  • use a microfibre cloth to dust furniture.

Office machines and entertainment devices

  • clean computer keyboard by dusting with microfibre cloth then clean remaining dirt with a cloth moistened with vinegar
  • clean television and computer screens and glass scanner plattens with a microfibre cloth or wipe with a cloth moistened with a few drops of vinegar and dry with an absorbent or microfibre cloth
  • dust entertainment appliances and computers with a microfibre cloth.

Paints and stainers

Water-based paint or 'natural' wood stainers and paints:
  • are safer solutions for adding colour to your living room and improving your floors
  • do not emit chemical compounds into the air your family breathes; these are known as 'VOCs' - volatile organic compounds - which cause the odour in freshly-painted rooms; some people suffer an allergic reaction or severe irritation to VOCs.

Rugs

  • dust in woolen and cotton rugs can be shaken out
  • vacuum carpets and rugs frequently to deter build-up of dust and dust mites
  • wash in warm, soapy water and dry in the sun.

Ventilate

  • open windows and doors to ventilate stale indoor air.

Laundry

Laundries contain a lot of chemicals that could be injurious to susceptible people such as children and those with respiratory diseases like asthma. These are found in washing liquids and powders as well as household cleaners.

Store washing and cleaning products out of reach of children. If you adopt the safer solutions cleaners, make sure that you label the containers you put them in.

Lanfax Laboratories have carried out research into the potential impact of powder laundry detergents on our environment.

Laundry

Clothes washing

Caution:

  • fabric conditioners may contain perfumes which irritate some people
  • laundry detergents and powders may contain chemicals that could be injurious
  • read the labels of your laundry cleaners and other products to assess their potential health effect on your family
  • read the label on your clothes item because different fabrics require different cleaning processes
  • soak very dirty work clothes soapy water to remove ingrained grime but do not soak silk, wool, flame retardant fabrics or leather
  • use a cold wash cycle with a full load to save water and energy
  • replace detergent with pure soap and washing soda dissolved in hot water (washing soda is sodium carbonate, a crystalline powder that acts as a water softener; not suitable for silk or wool)
  • fabric softeners - add one tablespoon of borax to your wash and go ahead with normal wash cycle; a tablespoon of epsom salts used in the same way achieves the same result
  • add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to a load of washing for extra cleaning and freshening; caution: some people suffer skin irritation on handling eucalyptus and other oils
  • washing woollen clothing - add a tablespoon of borax to five litres of warm, soapy water, then rinse well.

To bleach clothes:

  •  add half a cup of borax to a wash cycle then hang clothes in the sun to dry.

To remove stains from clothing:

  • moisten with water then rub pure soap into the stain using a toothbrush; soak in water then wash
  • dab eucalyptus oil into the stain then leave for a few minutes before washing.

Air and sun your clothes:

  • the ultraviolet light of the sun is a natural steriliser and air removes odours and dust.
  • hang your washing in direct sunlight rather than use a dryer
  • hang blankets, doonas and rugs in the sun to freshen them.

Basins and surfaces

  • sprinkle bicarbonate of soda on a damp cloth to clean surfaces - use sparingly to avoid scratching
  • stainless steel sink - simply wipe with a moist microfibre cloth and dry with an absorbent cloth to remove water and remove habitat in which bacteria breed
  • sink stains - spray with white vinegar and wipe clean; use bicarbonate of soda if the stain is stubborn then wipe with a dry cloth to remove moisture and improve shine.

Washing machines

  • clean your washing machine by washing it with a cloth moistened with white vinegar or bicarbonate of soda.

 Garage

  • store materials in labeled containers out of reach of children
  • store safer solutions organic garden chemicals (botanical herbicides and pesticides) out of reach of children; avoid using synthetic garden chemicals
  • safely store oil-based and other inflammable materials.

More information

How to Clean Absolutely Everything; 2004, Phillips B; Piatkus Books, London. ISBN 0 7499 2505 1

Safer Cleaning and Better Living Tips; 2003 James Z; Envirobook, Annandale. ISBN 0 85881 200 2

Green Cleaner; 1999, Lord B; Information Australia, Melbourne. ISBN 1 86350 282 3

Chemical Free Home; 2002, Stewart R; Black Inc, Melbourne. ISBN 1 86395 251 9

 
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