Soapnuts – The Way Forward For Green Cleaning

Cleaning may not be the most popular activity which we can do at home, but it’s a fact of life and can’t be avoided. Take a wander through any local superstore and it’s obvious that housework is big business. Every aisle in the store is crammed full of cleaning products promising to make your surfaces shiny, take out the work involved with getting things looking sparkly again, and reducing the time and effort spent indoors scrubbing sinks and bathrooms to get the restored to their former glory.

The issue with cleaning from a green perspective is that, the tougher a product is on grease, limescale or general dirt, the more likely it is to be packed with harmful chemicals which have a detrimental effect on the environment. More and more people are shying away from using conventional cleaning products such as bleach, understanding that they carry an associated tax upon the environment.

Soapnuts

Enter a great product for cleaning – soapnuts. These natural, environmentally friendly and economical little nuts can be used for a myriad different cleaning tasks, and are wholly natural. Made from the dried fruit of Rittha tree (found in India and the lower forests of Nepal), the nuts are used for everything from washing clothes, making shampoo, and the creation of a number of cleaning products including detergent.

Soapnuts work because the shell of the nut contains saponin, which is released when the nut comes in to contact with water. They are already used extensively in a number of areas as a primary cleaning agent, and the trend is now extending to Western areas as people realise the benefits of these all-purpose natural cleaning superstars.

Soapnuts can be used for the following cleaning tasks:
• Laundry: Soapnuts can be used in the washing machine – just ass a handful to yoru wash in a sock, and let them do the job of your usual detergent (check out our review of soapnuts here)

• Liquid Soap: Boil up some soapnuts and use the water as a conventional detergent

• Pet shampoo: Wash your pets with a mild solution of soapnut liquid to prevent parasites and keep them clean

• Household cleaning: use for window cleaning, bathrooms and kitchens – a soapnut solution can be used as a replacement for expensive and harmful bleaches and limescale removers

• Washing the car: Add some nuts to a bucket of warm water, and you’re ready to go

• Brightening jewellery: Soak items in the soapnut water solution and rub dry to a high sparkle

• Insect repellant: Use soapnut solution to repel insects, and protect plants and bushes from insects by spraying them with a weak soapnut solution.

As a completely renewable and biodegradable product, soapnuts can be composted once they have reached the end of their life in your cleaning cupboard. They are allergy-free, and great for cleaning around babies and small children, and for people with sensitive skin.

Just 1kg of soapnuts can be used for up to 100 loads of laundry, saving around fifty percent from your regular laundry bill. Using these innovative little nuts supports people growing them in regions who depend upon the income to survive, meaning that you have no real excuse for not letting these little miracles in to your home! You can purchase soapnuts for around £7.00 ($14.00) in most home and garden retail outlets. Find out more, here.

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Method Laundry Detergent Eco Product Review

Method continues it’s expansion of eco-cleaning products and has released its first laundry detergent.

Just looking at the bottle you know it’s going to be different, it’s an unusual shape and has a pump on the top proudly stating that “4 PUMPS = 1 WASH” and that this 300ml bottle is equal to 25 washes. Impressive stuff.

Method Laundry Detergent has a patent-pending formula which “seeks out dirt and stains” and means that you only need to use a quarter of the amount of detergent that you usually need, hence a small bottle with a lot of washes.

Method laundry

There are further instructions on the back saying how you can use less or more pumps depending on how dirty the wash is.

I have an old washing machine that is eco-friendly by default – it’ll only wash on a cool wash so sometimes eco detergent can struggle. Not this one though, although I haven’t used it on a particularly dirty load, just putting four pumps in cleaned the clothes nicely – basically as you would expect any detergent to do, eco or not.

The other useful thing is that my machine doesn’t like taking the powder or liquid from the drawer so having the option to squirt directly into the machine is a good thing. I did worry that it’d just wash the clothes I squirted onto so I spread it around a bi,t but it worked perfectly, all the clothes seemed to be cleaned the same.

The eco credentials of the liquid are pretty good, it’s 95% plant based and concentrated so you use less detergent each time. You may be thinking about the plastic bottle, I asked Method about that and it’s made from 50% recycled plastic and is grade 2 recyclable.

Method Laundry detergent is available from places in the UK like Tesco and Waitrose as well as online (try Big Green Smile) for around £5.99. The version I tried was ‘fresh air’ but there is also ‘peony blossom’ and ‘free + clear’ which is fragrance and dye free.

Dish Detergent Gains Credibility Through Oil Crisis

The makers of Dawn liquid dish detergent are benefiting from the increased publicity generated through the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. In a coincidental ad campaign before the disaster, Proctor & Gamble, who manufacture Dawn, started advertising the fact that the detergent is used to clean mammals and birds harmed by oil spills. While Procter & Gamble do not have the best environmental track record, it seems that Dawn has brought them some credibility in the field of environmental safety.

Dawn

The detergent is the preferred soap for nonprofit organisations that clean wildlife to rescue them from disasters, and the ad campaign highlighted this fact before the Deepwater Horizon spill. The ad showed baby otters and ducklings emerging from a bubble bath of Dawn, saved from oil damage.

An ironic product placement for Proctor & Gamble

The product placement for Dawn has made the marketeers of the product uncomfortable, as they are now unintentionally being linked to the crisis.

The number of damaged birds collected by the federal authorities has reached nearly 1,400. As live birds are brought to be cleaned, cameras show images of Dawn bottles in the background being used to wash the birds.

Dawn, which has sent 7,000 bottles of the detergent to the gulf at no charge, and plans to send 5,000 more, has not directly used the disaster to profit, and feels uncomfortable with the turn of events which placed the product at the forefront of environmental news.

The International Bird Rescue Research Center is currently helping nearly 30 birds a day that arrive to be cleaned in Fort Jackson, La. The oil covering them is rubbed with a chemical pretreatment, and then washed with Dawn in sinks in an open warehouse. The process is helping the birds to shake off the oil that is threatening their survival. Once the birds have been cleaned, they are released back to gulf beach areas that are as yet unaffected by the oil spill.

Taking small steps to help in an unimaginable crisis

The Bird Rescue Research Center was founded after two oil tankers collided in San Francisco Bay in 1971 and 7,000 birds were covered in oil. They began using Dawn detergent 1978 as the best product for the job. In recent years, Dawn has started raising money for the center and is on track for $500,000 by the end of the month.

Jay Holcomb, the executive director of the center, acknowledged that it was unclear what happens after the birds were released again, stating that “it is like a Band-Aid to a gunshot wound to the heart,” when we consider the ongoing survival of the birds and mammals in the wake of the oil spill.

Ziloclassic Smellkiller Eco Product Review

Now here’s something you don’t see every day. A metal soap. When Big Green Smile contacted me to review one of Zilolonka’s products, I didn’t know where to start. Metal soaps? It sounded like science fiction to me and something that will never work, so obviously I just had to try it out.

I opted for the Ziloclassic – just the original ‘soap’ rather that than any of the numerous other products available – such as a dishwasher smell killer – and the first thing that you notice is the weight of it. Well the second thing, the first is that it’s metal obviously, but it is a heavy thing for the size of it – comparable to a small hand soap.

The idea is that you can use it as a normal soap to get rid of strong smells like onion and garlic but also stubborn smells like diesel or oil – in conjunction with running water of course. It can also remove odours from clothes and from rooms – which is how I first used it.

Ziloclass

The soap works when it comes into contact with both water and air so after cooking dinner I wanted to get rid of the smell of cooking so set the Ziloclassic up. You need to put it in a dish (you can buy a version with its own dish) with some water, but without covering it up – so it’s exposed to both air and water at the same time. And then you just leave it.

Five minutes later and the smell was still there – I was a little disappointed but decided to give it another five. And that’s when the magic started to happen. It really is weird to think that a small 5cm steel disc has managed to remove the smell.

My intrigue naturally led me to some investigation to how the thing works and got some good information which explains that when it comes into contact with air and water, the special steel alloy acts like a catalyst that neutralises all odours – just like the catalytic converter that reduces harmful emissions from a car’s exhaust.

For those who like further details: “The large, complex, organic smell molecules that are present in the air are broken up by the catalyst Smellkiller into smaller ‘odourless’ molecules, therefore killing the smell… Smells are natural, organic chains which happen to interact with our noses to trigger our sense of smell. If you then break the organic string, you are then only left with individual pearls and subsequently the pattern disappears. If you break the ‘odour chain’ then the scent disappears as well.”

Clear? Well all I know is that, amazingly enough, it works. It feels a bit weird rubbing your hands with a metal disc but after a few days I’ve found I’ve got used to it and quite like it. It’s also a definite talking point when people come round.

While made of metal and coming in a plastic case isn’t that environmentally friendly to begin with, the fact that it lasts forever means you’ll not need to buy another soap ever again – which is kind to the environment.

The Ziloclassic Smellkiller costs £14.99 from Big Green Smile.

Are Consumers Ready For Natural Cleaning?

Ben from online eco-friendly shop Big Green Smile has written a post about about Ecover and natural cleaning:

“Natural cleaning products brand Ecover has backed up an assertion that more and more consumers have decided now is the time to give their cupboards an organic makeover.

“Associate editor of Natural Products Marketplace Alissa Marrapodi remarked that householders are now keener than ever to get rid of their chemical-based cleaning goods.

Cleaning

“Citing research from the US Poison Control Centres, she noted that cleaning products accounted for almost one-tenth of cases of exposure to toxic material, almost two-thirds of which involved children under the age of six.

“Consequently, she remarked that consumers are now ready to sacrifice their chemical goods for natural cleaning products.

“Assistant marketing manager at Ecover Kipling Wagner agreed, saying: “Demand is huge and growing daily. The key is to not saturate the market or consumers.”

“Ms Wagner’s comments come after Syida Lizta Amirul Ihsan, a correspondent at the New Straits Times, claimed that consumers could be confused at the number of different brands and methods of certification which exist in the natural cleaning products marketplace.”

Ecover All Purpose Cleaner Eco Product Review

Part of Ecover’s new range of cleaners with ‘Eco-Surfacants’ (you can read more here), the All Purpose Cleaner was sent to me along with big brand Flash One for All to compare with.

Ecover Multi Purpose Cleaner

I’m one of those people who like to be told what to do with a cleaner, this cleans ovens, this cleans windows etc. All purpose confuses me slightly, you put a capful or two in a bucket of water and then just go mad with it I think.

So I did, and it’s quite a refreshing thing to do. Cloth in hand I whirled around the bathroom and kitchen and enjoyed myself. Well to be honest I’d rather be sitting down with a beer watching the footy, but I enjoyed it as much as you can with cleaning.

I did the same with the Flash but wore some attractive rubber gloves (supplied by Ecover actually for the petrochemical big brand cleaners they sent and they’re Fair Trade made by Traidcraft) while doing it.

Both worked very well, it’s really hard to decide which is better. The scents were similar too – both lemon but slightly different but again I couldn’t decide which I preferred. What is comes down to again is that the Ecover is better for the environment – when you can get something as good as Flash but better for the world in which we live then why wouldn’t you?

Ecover All Purpose Cleaner costs around £1.59 for 500ml in supermarkets and is available online from places like Nigel’s Eco Store.

Ecover Power Cleaner Eco Product Review

Part of Ecover’s new range of cleaners with ‘Eco-Surfacants’ (you can read more here), the Power Cleaner was sent to me along with big brand Cilit Bang Power Cleaner/Degreaser to compare with.

Now Cillit Bang is known to be extremely powerful and when it cautions you not to use it on certain surfaces you realise it is. And I smells like it, it has an incredibly strong scent which, to me, means I don’t want to be around it for long. Ecover’s version on the other hand hardly smells of anything, it says it has a fresh plant fragrance.

Ecover Power Cleaner

The other difference is that although both are liquids in the bottle, Ecover’s Power Cleaner squirts out in a foam. Not much difference you would think, but I found it very useful when cleaning surfaces that aren’t horizontal – the Cillit Bang would run off quickly.

When it comes down to cleaning power, I didn’t found too much difference but if I’m honest the Cillit Bang seemed work a little better. But not much and I actually preferred using the foam as mentioned and I’ll feel happier using it on pots and pans than I do the Cillit Bang. Impressive stuff.

Ecover Power Cleaner costs around £3.99 in supermarkets and is available online from places like Nigel’s Eco Store.