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Cheaper, Greener Cleaning

So the world has gone cleaning mad, it seems. Wherever you turn there seems to be someone promoting a loo cleaner or doling out tips on sofa stain removal. Over on Instagram there has been quite the backlash against cleaning accounts like the rising star Mrs. Hinch. Rightly so, if you ask me.

Now I have nothing against someone trying to carve out a niche for themselves or sharing tips out of the goodness of their heart. Or even to make a buck, as long as they disclose that. What I do have an issue with is pollution and waste. Elbow Grease sold out. The Pink Stuff sold out. Just thinking about that gives me the shivers. Hard core chemicals being bought in bulk and sprayed and smeared around every household in the British Isles…c`mon, if you have any conscience at all you will know that that cannot be good.

I have to say, it horrifies me.

For a start there is the pollution of our water. All those chemicals get washed down our drains and enter the common water supply.  I’m not going to go into detail here because that is not the main point in this post, but if you use loo cleaner once a day, you are putting seven times more chemicals into the system than someone who uses a toilet cleaner once a week.

As well as that, there are all the plastic containers from these products to be dealt with. Sure, a certain amount can be recycled but some cannot. Reducing the use of disposable plastic is something every single man, woman and child of us should be concerned with. Sadly it seems there is a hell of a lot of people out there who don’t think very far.

And of course there is the production process. The more cleaning products we buy, the more the few companies who rule the cleaning products market will manufacture and market. Again, I am not going to go into detail here but lets just say that manufacturing isn’t the most eco-friendly business.

I’m sure you get the point.

Part of the reason this whole subject horrifies me is that I buy and use very little cleaning products. I honestly did not realise how often some people clean and how much product they use each time until this whole cleaning mania began. To give you an idea of my usage of cleaning products, so far this year I have bought one bottle of Jif-type cream cleaner, two bottles of bathroom cleaning spray (one for each bathroom), two bottles of under-the-rim toilet cleaner (also one for each bathroom) and a laundry stain removal spray. None of those bottles are empty yet. In addition to that I regularly buy washing up liquid, dishwasher tabs and laundry detergent. Very occasionally I will buy fabric softener.

If you are still  reading, well done for not being turned off by my lack of cleaning products.  Believe it or not, it is easy to keep a reasonably clean home while also being less wasteful, more eco-friendly and kind to your wallet. Read on for my tips on cheaper, greener cleaning.

Steam It

If you are a regular reader of this blog or a follower on Instagram,you will probably know that I love my steam cleaner and my steam mop. Each uses very little water (less than 500ml each) and very little electricity. There is no need to add in any cleaning products and the steam lifts grime easily.  Obviously the mop is for floors. The hand held steam cleaner I bought has several functions – a window cleaner which also works for tiles, shower doors and mirrors, a scrubbing brush similar to an electric toothbrush, and a jet nozzle for awkward corners such as under the toilet rim or the corners of window frames.

While  a steam mop or steam cleaner is more of an investment than a bottle of pine-scented spray, they do not cost the earth. My mop cost around €60 two years ago and the hand held cleaner cost me €30 early this year. I wouldn’t be without either of them, especially for cleaning the bathrooms.

The Quick Wipe

We don’t often get sick with bugs, colds and so on in this house and growing up it was the same in my family. I put that partly down to us living in a clean but not sterile home, then and now. The house rarely gets a deep clean but it does very often get a quick wipe.  Not with disposable wipes or kitchen roll, mind you. They cause too much waste. I mean a wipe with a cloth that has been rinsed in hot, slightly soapy water.

The kitchen table, counter tops, hob, splashback and draining board get a good wipe down with a washable flannel dishcloth several times a day. Doorknobs, the banister handrail, the coffee table, the kettle and coffee machine get good wipe as needed, generally every few days. The dishcloth and tea towels go into the wash every day or two, so there is always a clean one on the go.


Room sprays, while they might smell divine, are still chemicals too. I rarely use one.  The thought of breathing in artificial scents puts me off.  To keep our home smelling fresh, I stick to the basics, airing the rooms daily being the main one. When I get up in the morning, I open the downstairs windows and the front door for a few minutes to get some fresh air into the house. Before leaving for work I air upstairs. Keeping the doors open between the rooms helps the air circulate through the house.

Another of the basics is taking out the bins very often. I prefer to use smaller bins in the house and empty them into the wheelie bin every day or two.

I mentioned above that I wash the tea towels and dishcloths every day or two. The bathroom towels and mats also get changed after a few days to keep the bathrooms  fresh-smelling. The same goes for the bedclothes and pyjamas to keep the bedrooms from smelling stale.

Good quality scented candles, a bunch of fragrant flowers or a batch of baking also go a long way towards making a home seem welcoming and smelling great.

I would love to hear your tips on how to be a greener cleaner, so feel free to leave a comment.

6 thoughts on “Cheaper, Greener Cleaning

  1. All of this Fionnuala. We have very similar cleaning styles. I invested in a steam mop when we got our dogs, before that I was an ordinary mop with a little soap and water. The variety of cleaning products available now is utterly horrifying. Do people not care what’s happening environmentally? Not to mention personal health, I mean if you can smell it, you can breathe it, no?
    And on the recycling, here in Ireland now, so many varieties plastic can no longer be put in the recycling bin since China no longer take our waste (Ireland exporting it’s problem, who’d have thought?)
    I invested in an Eco Egg for washing, they’re like gold dust but save on so much plastic, chemicals etc. I do still buy a liquid detergent every 6 weeks or so for my towels/cloths as they’d have tougher stains and are older (still plenty of life though and old towels get turned into cloths)
    I could probably talk about this subject all day, I have a long way to go and am still picking up new tricks but you will never ever find bottles of cleaner (investigating making my own as we speak and bread soda/vinegar or lemon juice for the win!) polish, room sprays etc in my house. You will find dust for sure, but nothing a damp cloth cant remove in a few seconds!

    1. I’ve just looked up the eco egg. It sound very interesting. Does it work well?
      It is incredible how much waste you can save on with some small changes, isn’t it?

      1. It really is.
        I find the Eco Egg works well on lightly soiled items best. It doesn’t smell so clothes have just a clothes scent, but if you’re using a fabric softener, they’ll have the scent from that.

  2. Oh I love your post!
    To be honest, when I started seeing some of the cleaning posts on Instagram, I thought I had to go buy ALL that stuff and do it the same way it’s done over there. I went and bought Elbow Grease and The Pink Stuff. That was about 8 weeks ago. And I used Elbow Grease ONCE to clean the oven (because it NEEDED to be cleaned properly and soda & vinegar didn’t do the job) and I used the pink stuff three times to scrub the sink. So those two products will last me a good while. And yes, they are BRILLIANT. There’s no doubt. They do a great job and it takes only a very little time and a tiny amount to achieve sparkly results. But apart from that… I use a multi-purpose cleaner for most of the jobs, a bathroom cleaner for the bathroom, a toilet cleaner for the toilet and a window cleaner for… you guessed it. I have a steam cleaner and an old toothbrush for crevices and other hard to reach areas.
    I NEVER use disinfectant or antibacterial cleaners because I never did and don’t plan to do open heart or brain surgeries in my house. I have a bottle of proper disinfectant surface cleaner from the pharmacy, one that stinks you out of the house for the case that one of us gets a vomiting bug. Then you find me running around with stinky cloths soaked with stinky disinfectant and clean the toilet, door handles and tabs a few times a day.
    But my TOP TIPS for saving time when keeping your house clean are:
    Air it properly in the morning and in the evening for 10 mins to avoid any stuffy or musty smells and only clean things that are dirty. There’s NO NEED to clean your toilet fifty-six times per day just because Mrs Hinch does it. The same applies for your mirrors, your shower doors, your sinks, your floors. If they’re not DIRTY, don’t CLEAN them. Sit down, read a book, play with your kids, go for a walk, bake a cake.
    My house is a house we live in. It’s not dirty. It’s in use. So there’s always a bit of dust on the shelves and finger prints on the mirrors and water drops on the shower doors and in the sink and that’s okay.

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