Dishing the dirt on green cleaning

Your favourite cleaning products are harming more than just the environment. Protect your health and your home with these eco alternativesWe clean to get rid of bacteria and other nasties (and to avoid barbed comments from visiting in-laws). Yet studies show, the chemicals in many cleaning products could be making us ill, causing headaches and possibly even worse.So should we all just give up the fight against grunge and live like students? Of course not. Cleaning with environmentally friendly products is the answer. They eliminate germs just as effectively as traditional cleaners but are much better for us and for the planet.You could spend time mixing up homemade cleansers with ingredients like lemon, vinegar and baking soda. But, fortunately, there is another option – some clever-clog companies have done the hard work for us and created green cleaning products for just about every household need.The best thing about these products is that they’re clean in every sense of the word: no nasty fumes making you ill and no dangerous chemicals going down the drains and ultimately into the oceans and soil. So your conscience can be as clean as your bathroom sink.What’s in a name?Two of the biggest names in eco-cleaning are Method, who don’t test on animals and use non-toxic, natural and biodegradable ingredients, and Ecover, whose products have a high level of biodegradability, minimal impact on aquatic life and avoid petrochemicals.Cleaning cloths are also big eco-news. That old family favourite, Vileda, has a new range of cloths made from renewable resources and natural materials. Then there’s E-cloth, who lets elbow grease and cleverly made fabrics do the work, with the addition of nothing more than water. These are surprisingly effective, especially if you follow the ‘little and often’ approach to cleaning (rather than waiting for the grime to get so bad you can write your name in it).Put in the GroundworkPrevention is better than cure, so ask everyone to remove their shoes in the hall. It leaves street germs in one area, and it’ll save you money on replacing the flooring in the long term. Better still, it’ll reduce the need to clean the floor by about half, so no matter what product you’re using, you’ll be using less of it.Even if the outdoors never comes in, you’ll still need to clean the floors occasionally. Method makes a marvellous wood floor cleaner, £3.99 for 739ml (088211), which smells of almonds and doesn’t require added water. For non-wood floors, try Ecover floor soap with natural linseed oil, £2.49 for 1 litre (032302), suitable for untreated floors such as stone and linoleum.Counter intuitiveKitchen and bathroom surfaces take a lot of abuse. Give them some TLC with products tailored to their needs. E-cloth makes a kitchen pack, £9.99 (087558), containing one polishing cloth and one general-purpose cloth. These cloths are so good on stainless steel that they’re recommended by manufacturers like Smeg for use on their appliances.To get stony surfaces clean and smudge-free, spritz a Method marble and granite microfibre cloth, £3.99 (099325), with a dash of Method daily granite cleaner, £3.99 for 354ml (93848). Or use Ecover multi-surface cleaner, 99p for 500ml (026703), which works on all washable hard surfaces, from counters to woodwork.Surface materialSinks, tubs and toilets also respond well to eco-care, and you won’t need to scrub until you develop bulging biceps! Modern eco-miracles can get rid of bathtub rings, tea stains and more. Use Ecover cream cleaner, 99p for 500ml (037772), with a Vileda Naturals biodegradable sponge cloth, £1.99 for three (428287), to destroy grime.There are dozens more eco-cleaning products available, from Ecover limescale remover, £2.99 for 500ml (980459) to E-cloth plasma screen care pack, £12.99 (109628). Next time you're shopping, see if there’s an eco-friendly version of an old favourite. Your home will be a greener, cleaner place.