Natalie's guide to a sustainable Spring Clean
April is a stressful month of revision for us students, but I find a clean room motivates me to get up every morning and face it head on.
If you’re feeling like your space needs a good Spring Clean, here’s my environmentally-friendly guide that’s based on tips and tricks I’ve picked up from my mum over the years.
Ditch one-time-use cloths
It probably goes without saying, but you should avoid one-time-use items, like disposable cloths and anti-bacterial wipes. These non-degradable products build up in landfill, releasing chemicals to the environment and causing harm to wildlife.
Instead, I tend to use washable cloths, which you can find in multipacks in supermarkets. Not only do they feel better and absorb more, they can also be used the entire time you are at university - just pop them in the washing machine when you do your weekly load.
If you want to be even more sustainable, you could use old t-shirts or socks instead. And old toothbrushes are great for bathrooms as they can be used to clean between tiles and around taps.
Use more sustainable surface sprays
Your standard supermarket antibacterial spray is not an eco-friendly choice, as most involve single-use plastics and contain harsh chemicals.
Instead, go for a cleaning brand that has less harsh chemicals and a sustainable business model. My favourite cleaning brand is ‘smol’, who pride themselves on being both ‘eco-effective’ and affordable. For their surface spray, all you need to do is pop one of their cleaning tablets into their reusable bottle and fill with water to create your spray.
They also sell laundry and dishwasher tablets which come packaged in recyclable cardboard, as well as refillable hand sanitisers. I find smol to be more cost-effective than other eco-friendly brands, and they even offer a free trial on some of their products.
If your budget is tight or you want an all-natural cleaning solution, there are a few common household products that work just as well.
White distilled vinegar is a natural disinfectant - just dilute it down with some water and use it to wipe after food preparation. Vinegar is also good at getting rid of mould. And if you hate the smell of it, just add a few drops of lemon juice.
Lemon juice is good for degreasing. Mix the juice with a bit of vinegar and use it in your oven and microwave. You can even use the leftover lemon peel to deter ants from entering your flat, or bake it into a fruit cake!
Baking soda can be used to clear drains. Just tip some down the sink and pour over some white vinegar, then rinse with water after a few hours. Baking soda can also be used as a surface cleaner.
Use branded washing-up liquid
Buying a cheap washing-up liquid is a false economy, as it lasts nowhere near as long as a brand like Fairy. And having to replace your washing up liquid more often than necessary requires buying - and throwing out - more plastic bottles.
Choose biodegradable bin bags
When it comes to rubbish, consider swapping your usual black bin liners with biodegradable bin bags. These tend to be a little bit more expensive, but considering they take only a few months to break down in landfill as opposed to over 10 years for an average bin liner, they’re significantly better for the environment.