Perhaps spring cleaning has never been as important as this year: the hygiene of the environments we live in and our health are closely related. This is why you have to know each product and how to clean in an effective way that isn’t harmful or counterproductive. A pleasant fragrance is not what it takes to make a detergent effective! Often, in fact, behind inviting smells lie dangers for the wellbeing of those who breathe it in. Both for whoever is carrying out the cleaning, and subsequently, for all those who live in the spaces being cleaned.

What do you breathe in when you clean?

Everyday objects such as soaps, perfumes, paints and pesticides contribute significantly to generating pollution: ” The things I use in the morning to get ready for work are comparable to emissions that come out of the tailpipe of my car“, says Brian McDonald, an air-pollution researcher at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Boulder, Colorado.

Cars and trucks have historically pumped out most of these compounds, along with other pollutants such as nitrogen oxides. But significant levels of volatile organic compounds also escape from household and commercial products, according to a study published on 15 February in Science (read the full article here).

What and how should we choose?

Let’s start with some products we should avoid, also according to Altroconsumo’s opinion.

What is just a straight “NO”

  1. Rim blocks: they pollute (because their contents end up directly into the drain) and are dangerous because they can be grasped and touched by children, even by little ones, as they are, in fact, within reach of their hands.
  2. Oven cleaners: in most cases they are based on toxic solvents and are therefore irritating to people and harmful to the environment. They can also remain in tiny quantities on the surface, if not rinsed properly, they can release substances while you are cooking.
  3. Drainage cleaners: they contain corrosive substances and are very aggressive, it’s better to prevent, says Altroconsumo, with strainers for all of your sinks and if necessary, try with rubber suction cups, compressed air guns or pipe cleaner.
  4. Air and fabric fresheners: always control the ingredients! They can in fact contain irritating products, in particular for people that are vulnerable (like children and those suffering from asthma or allergies). It’s best to open the windows every day and often ventilate the premises. And use a Cube!

The FIRST STEPS towards a squeaky clean

  1. Do without unnecessary things: the products you really need are not many, just a detergent for the dishwasher, one for a washing machine, one for dishes, one for floors, a multipurpose and percarbonate to sanitise.
  2. Use microfiber cloths, they are active and capable of cleaning both dry (very useful for dust) and moistened compounds with water and a little detergent. They are washable and reusable.
  3. Use hot water to enhance the effectiveness of any type of detergent, while using less of it. 
  4. Take your time: this is a useful and effective ingredient. Unfortunately, the magic products that “clean anything and quickly” are also very aggressive to people and the environment.
  5. Get sprayers: prepare sprayers with water and vinegar which are very useful for cleaning simple stains, polishing and removing limescale. Otherwise use water and bicarbonate to degrease, polish and pre-treat heavily dirty crockery.
  6. Use gloves: we must always remember that all the substances with which we come into contact with, in the long run enter our already saturated organisms!