By choosing eco-friendly cleaning products, you are helping to reduce pollution, clean up our waterways and create a less toxic environment.
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There are many cleaning products out there that contain chemicals which render them non-biodegradable and, thus, pollute our waterways, oceans and soil. Such chemicals can cause health problems for you and your children.
To make sure you’re buying genuine eco-friendly products, they need to be non-toxic and made with biodegradable ingredients. They also need to be free of the big nasties – phosphates, parabens, NPE (nonylphenol ethoxylate) and optical brighteners. Also, look for products that come in biodegradable packaging. Plastic packaging can take hundreds of years to break down – if at all.
Don’t be fooled by the word “green” on labels. Some companies might dupe consumers into thinking their products are eco-friendly just by including it on their packaging. But, unless they contain biodegradable, eco-friendly ingredients, they are not the real deal.
BEWARE OF THESE
Ammonia: Its vapours can irritate the eyes, throat, lungs and skin, and is particularly bad for asthmatics. It can also cause kidney and liver damage.
Benzalkonium chloride: This causes eye and skin irritations, and bacterial resistance, and is highly toxic to aquatic organisms.
NPE (nonylphenol ethoxylate): This mimics estrogen and is an endocrine disruptor that can affect reproduction and even cause learning disabilities and birth defects.
Optical brighteners: These cause allergic reactions and skin irritations. They are also highly toxic to fish, plants and animals and don’t biodegrade easily, staying in water for an indefinite period of time.
Parabens: These chemicals accumulate in the body over time and have been linked to cancers and fertility issues.
Phosphates: When released into water, they can cause an accelerated growth of algae which depletes the oxygen supply in water, thereby causing the death of fish and aquatic organisms.
Sodium hydroxide: This is a respiratory irritant and is highly corrosive – it can burn the eyes, skin and lungs. Long-term exposure (in the air) can lead to chronic skin irritation and ulceration of the nasal passages.
Triclosan: This interferes with healthy hormonal development and causes bacterial resistance.
MAKE YOUR OWN
You’d be surprised at how effective homemade cleaning products are. Even better, you can make them with ingredients you already have at home or can easily buy at the supermarket.
Vinegar and clove oil: Vinegar is excellent for cleaning windows and clove oil is great for treating mould. You can make your own shower and bathroom spray to clean tiles using these.
Bicarbonate soda: It can be used for everything from killing mould to deodorising your fridge, unblocking drains and cleaning bathtubs and sinks.
Make a thick paste with a little water and about a quarter of a cup of bicarb. Use it to wipe down surfaces, then clean with a damp cloth.
For stinky or clogged sinks, pour a quarter of a cup of bicarb down the drain, then follow with half a cup of vinegar. For an all-purpose cleaning spray, mix an orange peel, salt, vinegar and distilled water.
■ Earth Choice dishwash concentrate (500ml, pictured), $4.20, from selected Cold Storage outlets.
■ Ecostore bathroom and shower cleaner (500ml, pictured), $9.50, from www.naturallybetterco.com.sg
■ Idocare Lavender Fields concentrated laundry powder (1kg), $12, from www.idocare.com.sg and www.redmart.com
■ Bio-home floor cleaner (1.5l), $7.95, from major supermarkets.