Sometimes it can be all too easy to get bogged down in the complicated details so we forget about the simple things we already have to hand. Of course I am a firm believer that we should all be making Cleaning Eco Friendly. I worry about all the horrendous chemical concoctions we bombard ourselves with in daily life and in home cleaning in particular. I’ve already looked at what to avoid in chemical cleaners and what to look for in Eco cleaners. But, often we really don’t need to be quite so technically minded or determined to spend more cash to make cleaning Eco friendly. You probably already have the ultimate simple green cleaner to hand, you just need to recognise it and use it more!
The Best Simple Green Cleaner
The best simple green cleaner is not some secret formulation it’s just something we tend to forget about. It really is the original and the best multi-purpose cleaner, for us, our laundry and our homes.
Do not forget the power of soap and water. Okay it doesn’t always come in the nicest packaging and it isn’t something that will tell everyone else how green and Eco minded you are. But, utilising this remarkable mixture to its fullest potential really is the way forward to ensuring you are an Eco friendly cleaner.
Of all the products out there, simple soap is the cheapest to buy. Budget liquid soaps are really thrifty and easy to find. But, even better soap is the cheapest thing to buy to a ‘greener’ specification. If you want an all natural cleaner, organic cleaners or just a safe cleaner soap can easily be found to your specification.
Soaps are a mixture of acidic oils; either vegetable or animal fat, with an alkaline base. Caustic lye is the general alkaline base used in all soap making. It can be simple caustic soda (yes really, just the same as that harmful drain cleaner) or caustic potash (equally corrosive but made by leaching rainwater through wood ash). Although it sounds dangerous, once the caustic has gone through the soap making process it stabilises and becomes safe for the environment and you.
All soap is made with such a caustic component but the end soap can be as mild and gentle as the maker likes. So the caustic part is not something to worry about. Whether you opt for an animal fat or vegetable oil based soap is a matter of preference and environmental consideration. I expect vegetarians would never chose an animal fat based soap. But, you do need to inspect the label carefully. Manufacturers will not state ‘animal fat’, instead terms such as ‘tallow’ are mentioned which seem less frightening to consumers. The only way to be sure you are buying a vegetable oil based soap is if it states the fat used is 100% vegetable oil. Palm oil, olive-oil and coconut oil are the primary vegetable based oils used commercially. Often additional essential oils will be included to improve the lather, scent and appearance of a soap. For personal use these may be of concern but for Eco friendly cleaning just any vegetable based soap is fine.
Vegetable based soaps are literally ten a penny and genuinely all natural cleaning products. Soaps based on animal fats are often even better value for money, though they will not meet the strictest of Eco standards as they will be fat from any farmed animal, the cheaper and more intensively reared standards which you may not endorse. If you eat cheap meat you should have no qualms about enjoying the benefit of cheap animal fat soaps. They are doing a lot less harm to the environment than any petroleum based detergents you might use. If, however you want to find an organic cleaner you will have to stick to vegetable based products which are more readily available which meet organic standards. Or of course you can make your own homemade soap from whatever standard of animal or vegetable fat you can afford.
Liquid Soap or Detergent?
Never assume a liquid soap is ‘soap’ without checking the reverse of the bottle. Manufacturers understand we consumers are a fickle bunch, who much prefer the word ‘soap’ to ‘detergent’. So many products called liquid soaps are actually mild detergents.
Depending on the degree of green you abide too, a mild detergent such as a traditional dish washing liquid can be a perfectly acceptable product to use as and environmentally friendly simple green cleaner. This is particularly true if you ensure there are no phosphates in the detergent you chose and that is fully biodegradable, which many now are. Unless otherwise stated detergents will be manufactured by refining oil, that is to say, your detergent purchase eventually profits the petroleum industry.
Of course commercially produced specific Eco friendly cleaning products will made with soaps and vegetable based detergents, usually palm oil derived. But any traditional product is unlikely to go to this extra expense. If something says detergent you can be safe to assume it is of the petroleum based variety.
The free daily Eco tips available with Ideal Bite are a great source of free information on new green products and techniques for living a greener life, including Eco friendly cleaning.
The main thing to remember is that soap and water will be able to tackle most of your household cleaning tasks. And, because soap is so readily available it makes a very cheap way of buying a high spec – truly ‘deep green’ Eco cleaning product.