There are few things as satisfying as a freshly cleaned home with everything in its place – a spotless kitchen all set for the next big cook, crisp laundered sheets to slip between at the end of a long day. Furthermore, tidying, sweeping, hoovering, mopping and polishing are all useful forms of exercise – and can actually boost wellbeing, too.
It appears that clutter can affect more than just the aesthetics of a living space – it may also impact our health and happiness. Studies show we produce more of the stress hormone cortisol in an untidy house, and that women especially associate having a tidy home with a happy, successful family life.
However, some of the methods used to make our homes spick and span aren’t so ‘clean’ after all, with potentially harmful chemicals lurking in the cupboard beneath the kitchen sink.
One to watch out for is ammonia. It’s a common ingredient in glass cleaner, as it doesn’t leave streaks. However, it is an irritant and may cause coughing and throat problems – important to note especially if you or someone in your family has asthma or another respiratory condition. Asthma UK notes on its website that ammonia can cause irritant-induced asthma.
Another potentially harmful chemical is triclosan, used in some dishwashing products as an antibacterial and antifungal agent. Some products containing triclosan have been banned by the FDA in the USA, as studies have suggested it may impact on thyroid hormones and contribute to antibiotic resistance. Research is ongoing into its possible effects on skin.
There are plenty of products that help reduce our use of some of these potentially harmful chemicals. Tried and tested traditional methods are also worth a try. Vinegar makes a cheap and natural cleaner that works on bacteria, mildew and dirt – use it to wipe down kitchen counter-tops, bathroom surfaces and hard floors. Baking soda can serve as a gentle abrasive – handy for dirty dishpans – and the juice of a lemon makes for a good deodoriser poured down your sink with a glass of water.
These environmentally friendly and traditional methods of cleaning are also better for our waterways, as the use of chemicals can damage flora and fauna in rivers and seas, especially when they contain unbiodegradable microbeads that have recently been found to have made their way into the food system.
For information on how to avoid products that contain microbeads, see beatthemicrobead.org
Get your home sparkling with our pick of green cleaning products.
A go-to brand for a wide range of ecological laundry, dishwashing and cleaning products, made with ingredients including aloe vera, coconut oil and sugar.
TRY: The washing-up liquid – Ecover offers free refills of this in some stores (check the website to find one near you). ecover.com
Another great range of household products, and a laudably transparent brand – hop on the website where you’ll find a helpful, detailed guide to the ingredients it uses.
TRY: The wax-free floor cleaner is biodegradable and has a delicious scent of almonds. methodproducts.co.uk
A range of products developed to be effective at low temperatures, helping to reduce your carbon footprint and save on fuel bills, too.
TRY: We like Ecozone Dryercubes – pop them in the tumble dryer to soften clothes without fabric conditioner, shorten drying time and save electricity. ecozone.com
An interesting product, made with only two ingredients – water and natural hypochlorous acid, which is also produced in the human body to help fight bacteria and germs. It kills 99.9 per cent of bacteria and can be used to clean household surfaces as well as hands, skin and more.
TRY: Useful as a hand sanitiser, or to use in areas where you are preparing food. aquaint-uk.com
This range of laundry, household cleaning and handwashing products is totally free from chemical plasticisers and synthetic perfumes.
TRY: The loo cleaner – a powerful product made from a combination of natural acids, including acetic acid, which is also found in vinegar. It is particularly effective on limescale and has a zesty lemongrass scent. biodegradable.biz
Removing dirt, grease and over 99 per cent of bacteria with just water, this range is environmentally as well as purse friendly.
TRY: The General Purpose Cloth is a must-have. Highly absorbent, it’s perfect for mopping up spills or wiping down surfaces, as well as use as a dry duster. e-cloth.com
This article is taken from the Spring 2017 issue of Liz Earle Wellbeing. For more wellbeing wisdom, healthy recipes and seasonal inspiration, subscribe to the magazine and get free P&P (UK).