Household cleaning products. On average, Britons spend £150 per year on them, and an incredible 493 hours annually cleaning. Our cupboards are crammed full with separate branded bottles for cleaning everything from kitchens to bathrooms, mirrors and windows to hard floors.

The biggest problem with this is the environmental impact of using such products. Ironically, while cleaning our own homes, we are polluting and harming the natural world around us.

Many of the products we happily use every day feature a range of warning labels, informing us that they may be toxic, corrosive, harmful or irritant, among other things. It is not uncommon that they advise us to seek urgent medical attention if used incorrectly or that the contents may be harmful to aquatic life. Yet, on we go spraying these products throughout our homes.

And, of course, the nasty and environmentally damaging chemicals found in these products aren’t the only issue. Most of them come in plastic bottles and many include a ‘trigger’ gun allowing you to spray the contents as needed. These systems aren’t easily recyclable in Wokingham Borough or indeed in many local authority areas across the UK (find a local Teracycle collection like ‘Ali’s Recycling’) who will accept and recycle these if you can.

So, why not save some money and give our planet a helping hand by trying these environmentally friendly home ‘hacks’, made using natural and everyday ingredients. Wherever possible, aim to buy ingredients in easily recyclable, plastic free packaging (e.g. vinegar in a glass bottle).

Car windscreen
Perhaps a timely one given that we’ve just entered February. Mix water and either salt or white vinegar using a 25/75 ratio and use this on your car windscreen overnight or five minutes before you need to drive and the ice should scrape off much more easily.

Toilet
Mix white vinegar, baking soda and ten drops of essential oil and leave in the basin for five minutes before scrubbing with a (ideally Bamboo) toilet brush and flushing.

Kitchen and bathroom surfaces
Mix water and white vinegar in equal measures and either ten drops of essential oil or infuse (for two weeks) with the rind of oranges of lemons. Do not use on marble, stone or granite surfaces.

Microwave
Place a small cup of vinegar and the juice of a lemon in a bowl and turn the microwave on low power for two minutes. Then simply wipe clean.

Kettle
Half fill it with water and white vinegar in equal measures, then boil the kettle before rinsing it thoroughly.

Mirrors and windows
Mix white vinegar and water using a 75/25 ratio and add several drops of essential oil.

Tiling and grouting
Mix baking soda and borax in equal measures and get scrubbing.

Hard floors
You’ve guessed it… Add a small amount of vinegar to water for a lovely shine. Again, avoid using on marble, stone or granite surfaces.

Plugholes
To clear troublesome drains, use baking soda liberally and follow on with a cup of vinegar. Then rinse with warm water. Use salt to clean to plughole itself.

Air freshener
Add ten drops of essential oil to a spray bottle of water and use it sparingly. Alternatively, add 90g of baking soda and 20 -30 drops of essential oil to a glass jar or diffuser vase.

* Plastic Free Home accept no liability for results based upon this article. Always test any homemade solutions on a small, indiscreet area first.

You can find us on Facebook by searching for Plastic Free Home or at http://www.facebook.com/plasticfreehomeuk.

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