Have a chemical clear-out this month
LIFESTYLE | August 1, 2019

Have a chemical clear-out this month

Walk down any supermarket cleaning aisle and you’ll find an array of, frankly, toxic substances marketed for household use. All gussied up in groovy neon packaging, complete with snappy brand names and lightning-strike go-faster lettering, there’s something fun and almost toy-like about the rows of bleaches, wipes, unblockers, descalers, pest killers, air fresheners, scourers and more on sale.

Turn the packs over to see the truth… most must by law show at least one of the below symbols on the reverse, accompanied by dire warnings on ingestion or inhalation of the product plus added instructions on what to do in the event of eye irritation, lung irritation or allergic reactions.  

Grid of chemical hazard symbols

Should we be putting these toxic and dangerous products anywhere near where we eat, where we wash or where we hang out with our family and friends? Tests have shown that particles from certain household cleaning chemicals contribute to indoor air being on average between three and five times more polluted than outdoor air.

Household chemicals contribute to indoor air being 3-5 times more polluted than outdoor air


Time for a chemical clear-out, perhaps? Here are four substances to start with and four non-toxic alternatives that will tackle the job just as successfully...


IMPORTANT: If you decide to clear out, make sure hazardous chemicals are never, ever poured down the sink or down drains. Also, please don’t put either full or empty hazardous chemical containers in with your general waste or recycling collections.

To find out which recycling centres can safely dispose of household chemicals and their containers, check your council website’s waste management section or put your postcode into this search tool


1. Corrosive oven cleaners

Burnt particles from cooking are another primary source of indoor pollution, so adding seriously harsh oven cleaner creates a perfect storm of toxicity. If you’ve ever felt dizzy and tired after scouring your oven, you’ll know what we mean. Quick note: steer clear of your oven’s stinky self-cleaning function as all this does is heat the oven to a fierce temperature so any baked-on gunk gets vaporised. Not something you want to be breathing!

A shining oven without the headache: A paste of bicarbonate of soda left overnight, finished with a scrub down with white vinegar works a treat. Take a look at the tutorial for details.

Prefer a ready-made eco solution? Try Ecover’s Oven and Hob Cleaner, Ecozone’s Oven Cleaning Gel or Ecodoo’s Oven, Fireplace and BBQ Cleaner.


2. Carcinogenic air fresheners

Far from freshening, these perfumed products simply mask odours while pumping out an average of 18 different chemical nasties into the air, including proven dangers such as formaldehyde, phthalates, synthetic musks and acetaldehyde.

The average air freshener pumps out 18 different chemicals, including formaldehyde

Get naturally nicer air: Try out these easy options for genuinely fresh indoor air

Prefer an off-the-shelf eco freshener? Waft’s aromatherapy blend room sprays are made from natural ingredients.


3. Water-poisoning slug pellets

You know those funny blue pellets strewn about in flower and vegetable beds in an attempt to stop slugs taking a share? The Government recently announced that metaldehyde pellets are to be banned from the beginning of 2020, due to the harm they pose to hedgehogs, amphibians and wild birds as well as the risk of contamination of waterways.

Keep those slimy guys away: Matt from the wonderful Grow Like Grandad blog has tested out a range of natural slug and snail deterrents: crushed egg shells are out apparently, but thorny brambles are in!

Want a pre-prepared eco deterrent? Slugs and snails hate the lanolin in Slug Gone’s organic wool pellets. Lay as a mulch around vulnerable plants.


4. Antibiotic-resistance-creating antibacterials

Let’s get anti-antibacterials! The once common triclosan had approval withdrawn by the EU back in 2016, though some toothpastes still contain the substance. The reason? The mini-doses of antibacterials in the products were shown to create drug resistant microbes.

Despite many studies proving that washing and cleaning with good old-fashioned soap and water is actually more effective at reducing germs than antibacterial additives, product manufacturers are still using antibacterial chemical ingredients as a selling point for their liquid soaps, toothpastes, face washes and cleaning products.


Natural soaps have protected us from dirt and germs for five thousand years or more

Clean and green: Natural soaps have protected us from dirt and germs since the times of ancient Babylon, some five thousand years ago. And if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Want extra protection from germs? These wood fibre cloths from EcoEgg are proven to remove 99% of bacteria with water alone!


How do you avoid bringing hazardous chemicals into your home? Share your non-toxic alternatives with Greenredeem on Facebook and Twitter.


>> How to save water and energy at home when you’re away

>> 7 things to do with an empty spray bottle

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