How to green your cleaning routine

In some form or another, we all clean every day. For most of us, that involves products. We touch the soaps, we inhale the fumes. And who knows how long the chemicals stay on the surfaces in our homes, and in the waterways outside. More and more people are asking how we can clean in a safe, responsible way. We feel biological products are the ultimate green products. Here’s why.

What makes biological cleaning products better than conventional products?

  1. Biological cleaning is intelligent.

A good biological cleaning product incorporates indigenous, clean bacteria in spore form. As soon as the product gets sprayed onto a dirty surface, the spore senses the presence of food and wakes up. It then produces exactly the enzymes needed to digest that food, eats the food and dies. You are left with a surface that was cleaned more intelligently than any soap could do.

  1. Biological cleaning uses less chemicals.

Because the microbes do most of the work, less chemicals are needed in the product. A good biological cleaner will therefore be soft on hands and cause less allergies, and do less damage as it is released into water treatment systems and eventually rivers.

  1. Biological cleaning kills only what should be killed.

You have heard how indiscriminate use of antibiotics is actually breeding superbugs. There is a general move away from killing all bacteria, towards killing only deadly ones, while nurturing the multitudes of beneficial strains. Biological cleaning works on this principle of teaming up with the life that is already in, on and around us. A good biological soap will therefore contain no biocidal chemical, which means it is also safe for the environment!

Other than choosing a good biological range of cleaning products, what can you do to make your cleaning regime more green?

  • Microfiber and water goes a long way.

Water is nature’s universal solvent, and you nearly always have it available. Paired with microfiber you can clean just about anything. Launder your cloth properly, dry it in the sun and it will last for years, reducing plastic in the landfill.

  • Throw out anything that says antibacterial.

Unless you are a surgeon, you do not need sterile hands. Hands covered in colonies of good microbes are actually your first defence against germs. Also, triclosan and the rest is not healthy for you or the environment.

  • Use all natural sponges, and choose refillable soap containers.

Say no to single use plastic. Loofah is a gourd that grows on vines, and when dried works wonderfully for scrubbing the shower and washing dishes. When choosing detergents, look for strong containers where refills are available. Dumping a used dish soap bottle in the rubbish every month simply does not make sense!

All the stuff we gather

On Saturday we will celebrate one year in our new home. I chatted in this post about how we arrived in Pretoria with precious few possessions. And how rapidly we managed to change that situation. Without even trying. Here are some of the highlights of the year.

The happy day when our first products arrived from the labs!

Loose rugs are often washed in my lounge… grin and bear it… it doesn’t last forever. We are thankful for the work!

And some recent pictures of the lounge.

This is what a lounge is for! Mom’s old bed, aunt’s old curtains, Tannie Cecile’s old throw… and one brand new cushion from Mr Price Home 😉

Although we are still waiting for a rug, curtains already make the space more cosy.

We came from a tiny rondawel where we had learnt to make do with SO few things. We hung our clothes from a railing in the cone thatch. What could not fit onto that railing, had to go. It was that simple. Which meant of course there was only one Sunday suit. And one coat. And that I did laundry every single day of my life! But we had clothes on our backs and the semblance of order in our bedroom. The kids quickly learnt that for every toy that came in, one had to go. We shared with our neighbours. They all had children, little money and less storage space. We were all in the same boat.

We gained from living lightly. We had a sense of community. I got training in organising (while my natural tendency is towards chaotic creativity) and decluttering (while I am actually a hoarder) simply because the household could not function with the one kitchen counter groaning under keys, or the receipt for the faulty toaster lost under a bed.

And yet, when we started packing for the move, we could not believe what came out of that rondawel! It felt like every single hole oozed stuff. Over the years we had accumulated more than we had ever imagined. Because it was all so neatly packed way, we had no clue that we were the owners of so much. Stunning. Mind boggling. Crazy.

The painful process of pruning started again because we did the move ourselves and could take only essentials. The truth is us humans can survive with very little. But we need a lot of stuff to live ‘respectably’. Then comes the paraphernalia of hobbies. Sport. Fancy ways of cooking. Entertaining. And your house overflows again! So many items are used once or twice and then sit in a dark corner until years later it gets thrown ‘away’.

I firmly believe a man’s life does not consist in an abundance of possessions. That is why I did not buy a single thing this Black Friday. Our shop also did not offer any discounts (have you noticed?) We chose to focus on zero waste options for gifts, decorating and cleaning. Besides, creating excites me far more than consuming.

A humble kitchen is more beautiful with a handmade tea towel and bamboo clothy!

Don’t you agree? I refuse to forget all the benefits of living lightly. I kick against being assimilated into the rush to own more. How do you manage to create rather than consume today? I’d love to know.