Ethical house cleaning
You are in: surefish > ethical living
Date: 17 March, 2005



'Using environmental cleaning products may take a little bit longer, but you don’t have to do this on your own.'

Why keep the house clean?

According to BUPA, where there is dirt, there are bacteria, which can multiply from one to more than four million in eight hours. Dirt can also attract vermin. Keeping the house clean also helps with keeping allergies under control.

The ethics of house cleaning

What seems to be such a simple thing — cleaning the kitchen, the windows, the loo — is just the beginning of a whole ethical debate. The chemicals we squirt around the rim and sluice down the drain go into the water supply, and the things we spray into the air go into our household environment and into our bodies. But why is this a bad thing?  

According to Greenpeace, household chemicals can be divided into toxic (cause irreversible effects such as cancer or genetic damage), and those that accumulate in the body and stay there. Use its ‘Chemical House’ web page to see what the chemicals in your house might do. Natural Collection also has a guide on this.

So what to do? Friends of the Earth and Foresight Preconception show how you can make your own cleaning products. These might also save you a quid or so. has a whole bunch of links to sites with cleaning recipes, and you can download a pdf on cleaning from (by the way, on the US sites, baking soda is the same as bicarbonate of soda in the UK). You can also download the Women’s Environmental Network’s cleaning fact sheet.

Bicarbonate of soda and vinegar seem to be the best cleaning things since sliced bread (or home-baked, organic wholemeal bread with soya and linseed). The only issue can be sourcing these in quantities other than the teeny tiny pots in the baking aisle of the supermarket. Try shopping online at places such as GoodnessDirect, where you can buy a kilo at a time.

But if you’d rather stick to ready made cleaning products, there are still ways to be environmental. There are biodegradable products for doing the washing up, cleaning the kitchen and bathroom, washing the floor or cleaning hard surfaces. Or try using a microfibre cloth designed for use without chemicals. GreenChoices provides information on a range of companies.

Is it really do-able?

It all sounds really good in theory, but does it really work in practice? Well, yes — Leo Hickman of the Guardian is working on it, as is Kathy Durnford from Brighton. Using environmental cleaning products may take a little bit longer, but you don’t have to do this on your own. eHow suggests that you can get your child or teenager to help — if these both fail, you could always, get Kim and Aggie in, hire a cleaner or use a robot!

Spring clean your computer


© Christian Aid - the Christian community website from Christian Aid

Christian Aid is a member of the