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One “green” advice we have repeatedly come across is to swap toxic household cleaners with green ones. Commercial cleaners with all the promises of making your home germ free actually do more harm than good. Most conventional cleaning products are unhealthy containing toxic and carcinogenic ingredients apart from coming in wasteful plastic containers. The ingredients have been linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption, … apart from causing allergies and respiratory irritation. In particular in the US the situation is critical. 80% of the chemicals in personal care products have never been tested for safety. While the European market is much more stringent and has banned or regulated more than 1,300 ingredients in personal care products, the dangers have not abated. Read more here.

 

In France the investigatory consumer magazine 60 millions de consommateurs just published in April 2016 a special feature on cleaning products. Almost all of the over 100 products had one or several of the not desirable ingredients. You can read more here and also look at the list of the 8 products that should be banned.
Utopia, our fellow German green living website, has done a great article for German readers where they explain the most common dangerous ingredients in German cleaning products. They recommend ecological cleaning products and explain what labels to watch out when shopping. You can read the feature here.
So essentially you think you’re ridding your home of germs, dust & grime but instead leaving behind far more unhealthy chemicals that actually cause chronic sicknesses and allergies. So what to do? Take our advice and GO DIY! Make your own home cleaners using common household items that are natural, healthier and in most cases even more effective! Like our very own UrbanMeister- Preetika from Delhi, India who is switching toxic house cleaners with her own DIY green cleaners one at a time!

Meet Preetika Dwivedi, a young city slicker, successful lawyer and cleanliness freak with a growing appreciation of everything ‘natural’, organic and green. Preetika is an urbanite like you and me- has a full time career, is a voracious reader (occupational hazard!), loves to party hard and tend to her garden during week ends. She’s also an UrbanMeister who recently decided to switch from toxic home cleaners to home made ones. Let’s catch up with her DIY experiments & take some practical advice on turning to green cleaners.

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Why did you decide to go DIY on home cleaners?

“It all started with my penchant for room sprays. I am a sucker for fragrances and would double up on room freshers in different flavours. Till I found out by fluke that these are actually quite harmful for indoor air and my health (Read here & here). I did a lot of research and slowly read all about how home cleaners are really toxic for indoor air and our health. I became quite alert about the cleaners I was getting home. You see I’m a big cleanliness fanatic- especially my kitchen. And I was horrified to know that though my kitchen cleaner was getting rid of the germs & bacteria, it was adding very dangerous chemicals to the place I cook and store all my food in. That is a BIG NO GO! On the other hand my research also revealed that I could use so many commonplace kitchen items as replacement of my cleaners. So I chose a recipe that I could easily work with and kickstarted my little GoGreen initiative. This was about 6 months ago and there’s been no looking back since. ”

 

So when do you usually make this DIY cleaner?

“She’s like a mad Dexter on some Saturdays”, says her husband teasingly. Well that is an exaggeration because we saw her in action and it really takes her hardly anytime to make her re-fills now that she’s mastered her kitchen & bathroom cleaners.

This recipe really takes less than 1 minute to do:

DIY Kitchen Cleaner:

  • 1 Cup Water (Distilled or even RO would do)
  • Few drops of lemon or lavender essence- Preetika recommends lemon because it is anti bacterial again.
  • 1 cap of Vodka- Excellent antiseptic that’s not injurious to consume!
  • She mixes this in a re-used plastic face mist spray bottle. This is important for her- she’s been using the same bottle for the last 6 months as what’s the point of her green step if she keeps doubling up plastic consumption.

That’s all there is to it! She sprays the mixture and wipes the kitchen counter tops, microwave, refrigerator shelves and even her chopping board with it!

For her bathroom cleaner she replaces the vodka with 1 cup of white vinegar (she uses the common kitchen variety). She’s discovered white vinegar is a wonderful ingredient which removes stains easily and also mould- a problem in hot weather countries like India. “Also using vodka for cleaning bathrooms is a bit of strain on the pocket ;)”, she jokes.

 

Some practical tips on these DIY recipes?

“A couple:

  • Use lemon essence for sure because it is a great anti-bacterial agent.
  • Then I would like to add that white vinegar does smell, but I’m telling you from practical experience the odour vanishes in under 2 minutes. Just ventilate well. It’s better to tolerate the smell for a minute than to put harmful chemicals in my home!
  • I wouldn’t recommend using this DIY cleaner on wooden surfaces. Lemon essence is oil based and wood absorbs this. I’m still to discover a good cleaner for these surfaces. But I’m on it. “

 

Why DIY? And what’s next?

“Why not DIY?! It’s all natural. You might ‘politely’ call the market cleaners unhealthy but for me they are poison. I feel strongly about bringing toxic unwanted chemicals into my home. Also, if I’m able to slowly switch to all home made cleaners using staple kitchen products, I can actually replace 5 different kind of cleaners that I end up buying. Easy on the wallet and my first step towards consuming responsibly.

Next on my agenda is to find a good do-able recipe for home made hand sanitizer. But I’m also making other small green lifestyle changes. I have my own little herb garden on the terrace and I’m also gradually replacing all my cotton and polyester curtains by bamboo chick blinds. I’m starting small and doing my bit. I feel really good about it.”

There you go UrbanMeisters! Preetika has taken her first DIY #GoGreen step. What are you waiting for?!

If you too are an UrbanMeisters like her or know someone who is then do write in to us at contact@urbanmeisters.com. We’d love to cover your Green Baby Steps!

 

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