Durban - Dr Brenda Moodley, lecturer in chemistry in the School of Chemistry and Physics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, presented a seminar on greener cleaning chemicals at Varsity College in Durban North on Monday.
Moodley, who has a PhD in chemistry and interests in analytical environmental chemistry as well as natural products chemistry, said replacing toxic cleaners in the home was easy and cost-effective.
She shared some of her recipes:
Mix ½ cup vinegar with ¼ cup bicarbonate of soda into two litres of water. Store in an appropriately labelled bottle. This solution can be used to clean water stains on shower panels, bathroom chrome fittings (taps), windows and bathroom mirrors.
Pour ½ cup bicarbonate of soda down the drain, then ½ cup vinegar and allow to sit for 15 minutes. The mixture serves to break down the fatty acids and wash them away. Thereafter, use boiling water to wash away the residue. (Caution: boiling water can melt plastic plumbing. Further, do not use this mixture after a commercial drain cleaner has been used as toxic fumes can be released).
Create a lavender vanilla spray by mixing 10 drops of lavender oil, five drops of vanilla extract and about ½ litre of bottled water together. Shake well and spray as a fine mist when needed.
Moodley also offers these cleaning tips:
* Sprinkle bicarbonate of soda in the bottom of dustbins to treat nasty odours.
* Cycle vinegar through your coffee machine twice and then cycle fresh water three times (each time with fresh clean water) to remove the vinegar. This helps to clean out your coffee machine.
* Clean microwaves by boiling a mixture of vinegar and water (1:2) for a minute, allow mixture to cool and then wipe off condensate with a damp cloth. (Reduce the use of harsh cleaning chemicals such as ammonia in homes – ammonia causes upper respiratory problems and is corrosive if it falls on skin or is inhaled).
* Cedar wood chips or dried lemon peels are a safe alternative to moth balls. (Moth balls contain naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, which are persistent organic pollutants and are toxic).
* Clean stainless steel cookware with a mixture made by boiling a mixture of bicarbonate of soda and water (four tablespoons in a litre of water). - The Mercury
Sources: Non-toxic housecleaning by Amy Kolb Noyes; eartheasy.com; nationalgeographic.com; and frugalliving.about.com.