In recent years the cleaning aisle of the supermarkets have become very crowded. There is a product for every possible cleaning job. Many of these weren’t even a twinkle in the marketing department’s eye 20 or 30 years ago and would have baffled our grandparents. You don’t need them! They are an extra cost and clutter up your cupboards. If you want to save money and reduce the chemical load in your home, here are 10 cleaning products you don’t need to buy.
10 cleaning products you don’t need
Here are ten cleaning products you don’t ne, along with some suggestions for cheaper and greener replacements.
1# Air fresheners
Here’s the thing. The name is a lie. Air fresheners don’t ‘freshen’ the air; they simply throw out perfumes to mask any less pleasant odours.
I know immediately if there is a plug in air freshener about – the worst of all useless products in my opinion. I get a headache and a tight chest, and I know I am not alone in this.
Rather than fill your home with chemicals, open a window, get some pot pourri or put a few drops of your favourite essential oil into a small bowl of bicarbonate of soda.
2# Disposable wipes
Wipes that clean and disinfect your surfaces, floors and bathroom can cost a pretty penny, are incredibly wasteful and have a detrimental effect on the environment.
They often contain plastic and are not biodegradable. Many are flushed down toilets and end up causing blockages in our sewage system. Even worse, in 2016 the Guardian reported that in the UK there had been “a 400% increase in the quantity of wet wipes found along our coastline over the past decade.”
I find them much more difficult to use than fabric cloths, which are sturdier and can be rinsed out as you go. Similarly floor mops with disposable wipes have to be changed very frequently and are fiddly to use.
Cut up an unwanted t-shirt or towel for cleaning, and invest in an old-fashioned mop and bucket.
3# Laundry scent boosters
I was amazed the first time I encountered a bottle of bead-like perfumed balls on sale. Surely, with most washing detergents containing scent as well as fabric softeners, this is a totally pointless product?
If you really want your clothes and bedding to have a strong, pleasant smell, try spraying them with water infused with essential oils as they are drying or before you iron them.
4# Dryer sheets
I remember when tumble dryers existed but dryer sheets didn’t. So why are they on offer? Why do we ‘need’ them? Like laundry scent boosters, they add yet more artificial perfume to our washing, along with other chemicals that, according to Eco Watch, “rub off the dryer sheet and coat your clothing in a slimy layer that has the effect of making your clothes feel softer.”
When you put it like that, they don’t sound so attractive, and when you consider that the chemicals in dryer sheets can cause some serious health problems like breathing difficulties, headaches and dizziness, you might want to give them a miss.
Eco Watch suggests using wool dryer balls instead, as they: “…don’t contain toxic chemicals, they last for thousands of loads, get rid of static and wrinkles, soften clothes, and they actually save time and energy by cutting down on drying time.”
5# Oven cleaners
Have you ever used a super strength oven cleaner and found yourself short of breath due to the fumes? And then, when you next use the oven, find your kitchen filled with yet more fumes being burnt off?
I gave up using harsh cleaning products for the oven some years ago, because of these issues. One day I decided to use simple bicarbonate of soda, mixed to a paste and applied inside the oven, on the shelves and on the inside of the door.
The phone rang, so I left it for half an hour whilst I had a chat. I never intended to leave it on so long, but I was glad I did. The grease and grime came off really easily with a bit of a scrub. Wire wool got rid of the more stubborn stains.
As a result, oven cleaner is another product I no longer buy and isn’t clogging up the cleaning cupboard.
6# In cistern ‘blue’ loo cleaners
The blue tablets that you place inside the cistern or hang from the toilet bowl are completely unnecessary. Your loo really doesn’t need a load of chemicals blasted down it every time you flush.
In fact, according to Today, the chemicals in these products can even damage your toilet over time. If you are really paranoid that germs will take over in between cleans, try putting a cup of white vinegar in the pan every now and again.
7# Spray furniture polish
Spray polish may leave your furniture shiny, but if you look at the warnings on the cans you might think twice about using them in your home. They contain phenol, which can cause headaches, dizziness and can even be fatal in rare circumstances.
According to Rachelle Strauss, author of the book Natural Household Cleaning, nitrobenzene is another common ingredient that should be avoided. It, “… is highly toxic, readily absorbed through the skin, and can cause severe damage to the central nervous system…”
Instead, a 50-50 mix of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle will clean most surfaces perfectly. If you want to add a shine to your wood, invest in a tin of proper beeswax polish. You only need to rub in a little and then buff it up.
8# Disposable dishcloths
Ditch disposable dishcloths for something a little more substantial. Knitted cotton ones can be purchased cheaply in multipacks and washed again and again.
Alternatively, cut an old towel into squares and use them to wash your dishes. Not only will these ideas save you money, they create less waste so are a more sustainable option.
9# Kitchen rolls
Similarly, your squares cut from old towels are great for all the jobs you would usually use paper kitchen rolls for. Mopping up spills, cleaning surfaces – even blowing your nose!
I no longer buy kitchen rolls. We have one roll that has lasted months and months. Instead, I keep a pot of towelling squares in the kitchen and throw them straight into the washing machine after use.
10# Ironing water
Ironing water – the scented, distilled water that you put in your iron – is yet another product that never existed when I first bought an iron (showing my age again!). It is definitely one of the cleaning products you don’t need to buy.
Manufacturers claim that it prevents limescale developing in your iron, makes ironing clothes easier and leaves them smelling like a meadow. However, a recent article in Which suggests it is a totally unnecessary product that might actually damage your iron.
They spoke to Tefal, who said that, “ Scented or treated waters can damage your iron or generator, as the chemicals leave residue which can damage seals and moving parts. Treated water can also have a higher boiling point, which can result in incomplete steam generation.”
I have found that using boiled, cooled water with a few drops of essential oil is just as good, but you could equally well use water from your tap.
Back to basics
Think about your great-grandma’s cleaning products (and, yes, it would have been her doing all the cleaning!). She would have had cloth and feather dusters, along with carbolic soap, which would have cleaned dishes, laundry and people too. Rags would have been used to wipe things down and wire wool to scrub stubborn pots. Hot water, baking soda, a good scrubbing brush and plenty of elbow grease would have been pretty much all that was needed in the early 20th century.
If the human race survived with such basic products for so long, then there is probably no reason why we couldn’t dramatically reduce the number of cleaners in our cupboards with no ill effects. Not only would this save us money, it would reduce the number of potentially harmful chemicals in our homes.
For more information on reducing the number of chemicals in your home, check out my post here.
This post contains affiliate links, marked with *. If you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission.