For the first part in my series I will be focusing on household cleaning products. This is where I started as I personally feel that this is where the most damage is done. If you stop to think about it, the chemicals in every day cleaning products are harsh and extremely bad for you – they can be the cause of allergies, skin or respiratory irritation, watery eyes, or chemical burns, while others are associated with chronic, or long-term, effects such as cancer.
It is important to make use of natural or eco-friendly cleaning products for a number of reasons:
1. Your entire family gets into contact with it every single day – Let’s take a normal scenario in my home. Mikayla often drops food off her plate and onto the kitchen counter, and she will proceed to pop that into her mouth or lick the jam off the kitchen table – because she is a toddler (and I will be honest, I do it too when no-one is watching). Children are particularly vulnerable as their vital organs are still developing, any damage can be long lasting. They are smaller in size than adults and their developing organs are at greater risk of being affected by toxins. They also have a reduced ability to eliminate toxins from their developing bodies. You prepare food on these surfaces, your skin constantly gets into contact with it. These chemicals do not just dissapear – it absorbs into your skin, your food, it is in the air you breathe, its on the dishes you eat out of, the glasses you drink water from, it is in your oven where you cook your family’s meals, it is on the clothes you wear, it is in your bath tub, it is on the tiles you walk barefoot across, it is everywhere. The more you think about it and let the realization set in, the scarier it becomes. We use a wide array of scents, soaps, detergents, bleaching agents, softeners, scourers, polishes, and specialized cleaners for bathrooms, glass, drains, and ovens to keep our homes sparkling and sweet-smelling… but while the chemicals in cleaners foam, bleach, and disinfect to make our dishes, bathtubs and countertops gleaming and germ-free, many also contribute to indoor air pollution, are poisonous if ingested, and can be harmful if inhaled or touched. In fact, some cleaners are among the most toxic products found in the home.
2. When you drain the water you used to wash your dishes in, your washing machine, etc. these chemicals get pumped back into the earth, into the soil. When using natural or eco-friendly products you can use that water on your plants instead of wasting it and it will have no negative effect on the soil it gets pumped into. After bubbly cleaning liquids disappear down our drains, they are treated along with sewage and other waste water at municipal treatment plants, then discharged into nearby waterways. Most ingredients in chemical cleaners break down into harmless substances during treatment or soon afterward. Others, however, do not, threatening water quality or fish and other wildlife as well as plants.
3. Health problems – Ingredients with high acute toxicity include chlorine bleach and ammonia, which produce fumes that are highly irritating to the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. These products should not be used by people with asthma or lung and heart problems. Fragrances added to many cleaners (most notably laundry detergents and fabric softeners) may cause acute effects such as respiratory irritation, headaches, sneezing, and watery eyes in sensitive individuals or allergy and asthma sufferers. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has found that one-third of the substances used in the fragrance industry are toxic. Unfortunately, because the chemical formulas of fragrances are considered trade secrets, companies aren’t required to list their ingredients but merely label them as containing “fragrance“.
It does not always work out cheaper, but these companies are still small… There is so much potential.
So let’s get started….
• For Your Kitchen Counters, Stove Tops, Windows, Glass Tops, Oven and Tables (All-Purpose)
Seeing as this is where you prepare your family’s meals, store your food, etc, – I feel it is very important to use an all natural cleaner here. The kitchen is the heart of the home, after all. Some all-purpose cleaners contain agents like diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA). When these substances come into contact with nitrates, often present as undisclosed preservatives or contaminants, they react to form nitrosamines – carcinogens that readily penetrate the skin. 1,4-dioxane, another suspected carcinogen, may be present in cleaners made with ethoxylated alcohols. Butyl cellosolve (also known as ethylene glycol monobutyl ether), which may be neurotoxic (or cause damage to the brain and nervous system), is also present in some cleaners.
What I recommend: Earthsap Kitchen Cleaner.
Price & Stockist: R41,50 for 500ml and R31,00 for a refill on Faithful-to-Nature, also available at selected Pick ‘n Pay stores. This costs about the same as most of your other all-purpose and kitchen cleaners, the difference is that you can use this for all surfaces – you end up saving money as you are replacing kitchen cleaner, Handy Andy, oven cleaners, Windowline, Mr Min, Degreasers etc. with one product.
Why I love it: Even though it is labelled a Kitchen Cleaner, it can truly be used on all surfaces. It is especially formulated to dissolve grease and grime, naturally and safely – it works really well and that makes it perfect for cleaning stove tops and ovens. It has an amazing citrus smell that leaves your home smelling fresh and clean. I love that you can replace a number of household cleaning products with this one bottle.
Ingredients: Purified Water, Saponified Vegetable Extract (source Coconuts/Corn), Salt, Citrus Essential Oils.
Other alternatives: I also love the Better Earth Natural Cleaning Spray (all-purpose) – R55 for 500ml, the Earthsap Concentrated All Purpose Cleaner is also a much more economical choice at R29,90 (but not great for glass), or you can try this amazing homemade recipe if you have time or the nack for that sort of thing. Also, Truth Kitchen Degreaser is another amazing and affordable product, R36 from Faithful-to-Nature.
• Cleaning Your Microwave
You do not want to use harsh chemicals in a spot where you heat your food.
What I recommend: A lemon and some water.
It’s a simple idea, really: Just squeeze some lemon juice into water, drop the rinds into the water, and microwave. As the liquid boils, it condenses on the sides of the microwave, loosening gunk and dissolving food splatters. The lemon juice is a natural cleaning agent, and so all you have to do is use a clean towel to wipe everything clean.
What You Will Need:
Small microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup
Clean, dry dishtowel or cleaning rag
- Pour water in the bowl: Measure about a half cup of water into the bowl.
- Squeeze the lemon: Slice the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the water. Drop the lemon halves into the bowl.
- Microwave for 3 minutes: Place the bowl in the microwave. Microwave on high power for 3 minutes so the liquid comes to a boil.
- Let stand for 5 minutes: Do not open the microwave door. The steam trapped inside will help loosen food gunk. Let stand for 5 minutes.
- Wipe the microwave clean: Open the door and carefully remove the bowl with the lemons. If your microwave has a turntable, lift it out and wipe it clean. Wipe the inside of the microwave clean starting with the ceiling and the sides. Finish with the floor, sweeping any crumbs into your hand. Don’t forget the door!
- Cleaning stubborn spots: If you come across stubborn spots that won’t easily wipe away, dip the corner of your dishtowel in the lemon-water and scrub until the spot comes away.
• For Washing Dishes
Most dishwashing liquids contain detergents, coal tar based colours, and artificial fragrance. They may contain Quarternium 15, an eye and skin irritant which can release carcinogenic formaldehyde. Do your hands ever get irritated when you wash dishes? Mine did. If the label says “Do not use with chlorine bleach”, then the product probably contains ammonia. Many dyes are known to be carcinogenic; they can penetrate the skin and be deposited on dishes. Conventional detergents are petroleum-based.
Many automatic dishwasher detergents contain dry chlorine that is activated when it encounters water in the dishwasher. Chlorine fumes are released in the steam that leaks out of the dishwasher. Harmful effects are intensified when chlorine is exposed to heat. In addition, dishwashing powders can cause severe burns to the mouth and throat if ingested, burns that can cause severe injury. Even wet, undissolved powder in the dishwasher has caused this type of injury to curious toddlers.
Some of the best-selling brands of automatic dishwashing liquids (including Sunlight), contain phosphates. Phosphates released into the environment rob lakes and ponds of oxygen, leading to the suffocation of aquatic plants and animals. I can write page after page concentrating on the dangers of chemicals present in this cleaning product, but it will take forever. I loved this blog post from By Delight – they concentrate on the details of the ingredients present in Sunlight Liquid specifically.
For hand washing:
What I recommend: Earthsap Citrus Dishwashing Liquid
Price & Stockist: R32,50 for 750ml from Faithful To Nature (I do all my household shopping here, they are absolutely amazing – best service! Also, free delivery options for all orders over R350!), also available at selected Pick ‘n Pay stores. I know it is difficult – especially when a 750ml Sunlight liquid refill at Checkers cost a mere R17,99. It is important to note that the more people support these small brands, the more they can produce the more affordable they will become. Yes, you are paying an extra R14,51 – but in the long run, it is worth it. You will be saving on water consumption (you can use the water on your plants), you will quite possibly save on medical bills and your mind will be at ease. It is also important to note that you do not need to use much, therefore it will last for quite some time!
Why I love it: First of all, it works. It smells absolutely amazing and It does not leave a greasy film on the dishes or streaks on the glasses. It is completely natural, non toxic, it contains no dyes, no artificial fragrances, no artificial preservatives, no phospahtes, no petrochemicals, no chlorine or bleaches, no animal ingredients and Earthsap does not test on animals. It does not pose any health risks, it’s kind to your hands & mild enough for sensitive skin – thanks to the plant based ingredients and will leave no toxic residues or harmful chemicals on your dishes. It is also Proudly South African (always a bonus).
Ingredients: Water, saponified vegetable extract (source coconuts/ corn), natural gum, citrus essential oils.
Other alternatives: To be honest, I have yet to find a home recipe or cheaper product that actually works. Better Earth has an amazing dishwashing liquid, but at R49,90 it is just too expensive for me. I also tried the Pure Simple Dishwashing Liquid which is much cheaper, but it was extremely watery and did no do it for me at all.
For your dishwashing machine:
What I recommend: The best product I have tried so far is the Earthsap Automatic Dishwasher Gel.
Price & Stockist: R51.00 for 500ml from Faithful to Nature – this should last for 11+ washes. The Finish PowerBall Tablets work out to roughly R3.57 per tablet/wash where as this gel works out to about R4.60 per wash – so per wash it works out +/- R1 more expensive to use this non-toxic, natural product… I would say it’s worth it.
Why I love it: Altough it is necessary to pre-rinse the dishes, it still cleans really well. I love that the fragrance is not too strong. Sometimes your dishes might have a slight white “powder” on them it might be because you’re using too much of it in correlation to the amount of dishes in the washer. Out of all the products I have tried, this one certainly works best. Once again, it is free of chlorine, petrochemicals, artificial fragrances, dyes, lauryl sulphate, GM ingredients, animal ingredients and EDTA. It is also safe for Septic tanks. *Update* We have started using part dishwasher gel and part dishwashing liquid – it works so much better!
Ingredients: Saponified Coconut Extract, Silicate, Sodium Carbonate, Citric acid, Lemon essential oil.
Other alternatives: Better Earth Dishwasher Gel (+/- R55 for 500ml).
• For Washing Your Floors…
Personally, I would just use the the Earthsap Concentrated All Purpose Cleaner – R29,90, but I know some people like product specifically for cleaning floors…so…
What I recommend: Better Earth Citrus Floor Cleaner (for tiles).
Why I love it: Great product with an amazing smell. It smells like oranges… what could possibly be better than that? I love it because you do not have to use much and it dries without leaving streaks on your floor.
Ingredients: Water (aqua), acetic acid, essential oils – (Citrus sinensis, Citrus limonum), biodegradable liquid soap.
You can also look at Better Earth Wooden Floor Cleaner here.
• For Laundry…
• Laundry Powder
Natural/Eco-friendly laundry detergent does not contain chlorine, phosphates, or other chemicals that are dangerous to our health. Also, none of them contain synthetic dyes or perfumes. These ingredients can be extremely harmful to people who have sensitive skin or allergies, yet they are found in most popular brands of laundry detergent. In fact, phosphates are a known water pollutant, and have caused considerable damage within our environment over the past 40 years. The use of phosphates has been hotly debated in recent years, as they are known to kill fish and plants, which throws our entire ecological system out of balance.
The toxic chemicals found in laundry detergents present a danger to the environment by way of the water. But guess what? They can also damage your skin and some give off fumes that you inhale when you breathe in the just dry clothes with their synthetic fragrances.
Natural/Eco-friendly detergents are usually more expensive than traditional brands, but the few extra rands are more than worth it when you consider the harm that traditional brands can cause to our health.
What I recommend: Earthsap Machine & Handwash Laundry Powder
Price & Stockist: R116.00 for 2kg from Faithful to Nature – this lasts my family about 3 months +. We do a lot of washing – (we do about two loads a day) especially with a little baby in the family! Why I love it: Its great value for money as it lasts a long time. I use half the recommended amount and our clothes still come out clean with a wonderful light, natural scent. It is based on pure natural ingredients including natural earth mineral salts & 100% natural oils so it can be used to watch newborn baby clothes as well. Contains no chlorine or bleaches, no petroleum based chemicals, no optical brighteners, no artificial fragrances, no artificial preservatives, no dyes or EDTA, no animal or GM ingredients, no testing on animals and is safe for septic tank use.
Ingredients: Sodium carbonate, sodium chloride, sodium citrate, essential lavender oil.
• Fabric Softener
What I recommend: Earthsap Fabric Softener.
Price & Stockist: R55,99 for 1 litre from Wellness Warehouse. Can also be bought at selected Pick ‘n Pay stores.
Why I love it: The ingredients are safe for our family, pets and the environment and are completely bio-degradable. They do not harm aquatic life or affect marine plant growth. The heavenly lavender smell lasts very long on your clothes – it’s divine! It makes clothes soft, static-free and easy to iron. It is great for people with allergies or eczema. I use less than the recommended dose and it works brilliantly.
Ingredients: Purified water, Soybean based softener, lavender & eucalyptus oils.
Other alternatives: SoPure Mitefree Laundry Additive – R99 from Faithful-to-Nature.
• Stain Remover
What I recommend: Truth Stain Remover.
Price & Stockist: R36 for 800ml from Faithful-to-Nature.
Why I love it: This is an effective, affordable green cleaner that really gets the job done. Made from pure plant extracts, it’s carcinogen-free and biodegradable, making it family-friendly and environmentally responsible. Truth is a proudly South African range of effective but affordable green cleaning products, perfect for the eco-friendly family on a budget.
Ingredients: Alkyl polyglycoside, alkyl-c-methyl esters, chrysanthemum oil, alkyl oligoglucopryanosides, alkanolamines, cedar oil, cinnamon oil, citronella oil, corn oil, d-glucopyranoside, alkyl ologomeric, edta, extracts of garlic, geranium oil, jojoba oil, karanja oil, lemongrass oil, lily extract, mint oil, peppermint oil, processed neem oil, soybean oil, sodium coco poly glucoside citrate, ethyl lactate, dextronic acid, diazonium salts, sapodilla, processed extracts of sugar cane, tall oil fatty acids and water.
• For The Bathroom
Many bathroom cleaners contain bleach which is a strong corrosive. It will irritate or burn the skin, eyes and respiratory tract. It may cause pulmonary edema or vomiting and coma if ingested. Never mix bleach with acid toilet bowl cleaners or ammonia. These mixtures may produce fumes which can be DEADLY. Toilet bowl cleaners usually contain hydrochloric acid, a highly corrosive irritant to both skin and eyes that damages kidneys and liver; and hypochlorite bleach, a corrosive irritant that can burn eyes, skin and respiratory tract. Toilet bowl cleaners also may cause pulmonary edema, vomiting or coma if ingested. Contact with other chemicals may cause chlorine fumes which may be fatal.
What I recommend: Greenman Toilet & Bathroom Cleaner Gel.
Price & Stockist: R44 for 1 Litre at Faithful-to-Nature or click here for a list of stockists.
Why I love it: This is a powerful concentrated commercial cleaner that can be diluted with water to remove even the most stubborn dirt and bathroom grime. Made from non-toxic plant extracts, it’s completely biodegradable and carcinogen-free. It’s also mutli-purpose, which means it cleans everything from toilet bowls to tiles. Great value for a super product. The lavender smell is extremely subtle, it does not over-foam, rinses easily and cleans well. Super for everyday cleaning.
Ingredients: Alkyl polyglycoside, alkyl-c-methyl esters, chrysanthemum oil, alkyl oligoglucopryanosides, alkanolamines, cedar oil, cinnamon oil, citronella oil, corn oil, d-glucopyranoside, alkyl ologomeric, extracts of garlic, geranium oil, jojoba oil, karanja oil, lavender oil, lemongrass oil, lily extract, mint oil, peppermint oil, processed neem oil, soybean oil, sodium coco poly glucoside citrate, ethyl lactate, dextronic acid, diazonium salts, sapodilla, processed extracts of sugar cane, tall oil fatty acids, water.
• Carpets and Upholstery
What I recommend: Earthsap Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner.
Price & Stockist: R48 for 500ml at Faithful-to-Nature.
Why I love it: It uses gentle natural soap to loosen dirt and microbials which release organisms that breakdown dirt, fats and odorous cleaning without the use of toxic and harmful chemicals. It leaves the carpet where you washed it soft, and the smell is to die for!
Ingredients: Saponified Coconut Extract, Micro Organisms, Sodium Carbonate, Citric Acid, Lavender, Aniseed, Citrus Essential Oil.
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• Natural/Eco-friendly Online Shopping
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In the next installment we will be looking at keeping insects and creepy crawlies away ♥
I would love to hear your feedback! Do you have any products you would like to recommend? Do you have any questions?
*Please note that this is NOT a sponsored post, these are products I paid for and use daily*