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Some of the modern cleaning materials around are seriously scary. Many contain heavy-duty antibacterials and poisons with fumes that are enough to get you in the back of the throat and make you cough and splutter. Just imagine what they’re doing to your children? Or your elderly parents? And your pets?

There are four simple and safe “green cleaning” ingredients that will work hard for you and keep your home smelling clean and fresh — and leave you with a clear conscience.

1. Bicarbonate of Soda

Available at supermarkets and chemists, ‘bicarb’ is a white “green-cleaning” powder that is fantastic for removing odors, and cleaning surfaces, loos and drains:

  • Keep a small open pot of it in the fridge to soak up old food smells.
  • Sprinkle on carpets, let it stand for about 15 minutes, then vacuum up.
  • sprinkle down drains, pour a little vinegar over … and watch it fizzle up, then wash down with hot water for a few minutes
  • Use dry on surfaces, then wipe down with a damp cloth
  • Make a paste with a little water for stubborn stains on surfaces, leave for a few minutes and buff with a dry cloth

2. Vinegar

White spirit vinegar is cheap and easy to get.  It is also a hard-working, all-round cleaner:

  • Use with bicarb in a spray bottle with water for an all-round, all-purpose cleaner — eg: 500 mls water, 2 cups vinegar, 2 teaspoons bicarb (put in first, then water, then vinegar to minimize fizz!) – and a few drops of your favourite essential oil.
  • Use neat on a dry cloth to wash down pet cages to keep smells at bay.
  • One part vinegar to three parts water will clean floors, mirrors, windows, showers with ease. You can use it neat for stubborn stains.
  • It’s a great water softener – use in your rinse cycle for softer towels, cleaner whites and fresher clothes.  Also prevents mildew.

3. Dishwashing liquid

A good quality dish-washing liquid can be a great green cleaning agent. You can use it to clean floors, walls, tiles, bathrooms, surfaces or even to wash the dogs.

4. Lemon Juice

  • Rub some non-iodated salt on your brass and silver, then rub over with a slice of lemon before buffing with a soft cloth.
  • Add a few drops of lemon to your washing up water to help cut grease and leave dishing feeling super clean.
  • Make lemon water: cut one lemon into quarters and steep it in a litre of boiling water overnight.  Strain with cloth or paper towel and add to cleaning spray bottle for a fresh smell.  Rub over your pets coats to make them smell fresh, condition their skins and deter pesky fleas.

Four simple green cleaning solutions.  Safer. Environmentally friendly. And a whole lot kinder on the pocket, too.