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Your eco spring clean

Give your house a spring clean and cut your chemical load with our guide to an eco-friendly home.

We fill our homes with so many chemicals on a routine basis, sometimes unintentionally, and these can be no good for our health nor for the environment. Whether it’s a cleaning product that contains chemicals linked to health concerns, or a laundry product that cannot biodegrade and so ends up in our waterways, it’s really important you assess the products you’re using in the home and the impact they could be having.  The good news is that with the heightened awareness around our environmental impact, it’s never been easier to clean up your home – and your health food store is the perfect place to start.

Chemicals of concern

Various chemicals are used in cleaning and home products for a multitude of reasons, some to make sure they do their job effectively, others to give a clean smell, and some to make them last longer.
Because they have traditionally been used, for many years, the use of such chemicals hasn’t been questioned until more recent years when research has revealed they can be linked to certain health concerns.
Although it’s important to check labels and research yourself any that you are not sure of, here, we explain some of the most commonly used chemicals to be aware of.
Phosphates: A big concern to aquatic life, this chemical is found in many cleaning products and should ideally be avoided.
Petroleum solvents: These make a cleaning product more effective, but it’s important to note they can be toxic, not to mention having an environmental impact as they come from non-sustainable sources.
Alcohols: Very often used in cleaning products, you will find them in a range of products and they are no good for us or the environment.
Surfactants: Can be toxic and will not biodegrade so pose a risk to the environment.
Dyes: So often found in cleaning products to offer colour, they are known to be sourced from petroleum.

Gentler alternatives

The good news is there are many plant-based alternatives you can use to clean the home, which have been used for centuries – and you can even make this up on your own. And if you need to buy products, choose those that are designed to be more eco-friendly and are less chemically heavy. Your health food store will be able to advise you.
Key natural products to keep on hand so you can make your own products includes castile soap, bicarbonate of soda, white wine vinegar, soda crystals and cornstarch and with a simple search on Google, you can find all kinds of recipes. Essential oils are also a fantastic choice, in a diffuser, for scenting your home naturally.
When buying gentler products, look for certifications that demonstrate they have been made with certain considerations in mind, whether it’s not being tested on animals, ideal for those with allergies, vegan or organic.