The alternative to toxic cleaning solutions could be hiding in your kitchen. Photo: Towfiqu barbhuiya/Unsplash

Using bicarb to keep things clean and green

By Alastair Otter
Thursday, Jul 6, 2023 Lifestyle

Keeping your home sparkling and clean could be damaging the world around you. Each day we pour untold amounts of chemical cleaners and solvents down the drain adding to the growing toxicity of our city water. The good news is that there are many things you can do to reduce your impact on the environment next time you’re cleaning.

Bicarbonate of soda

Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and vinegar, for example, make easy, planet-friendly all-purpose cleaners that can be used to clean kitchen and bathroom surfaces.

  • Sparkling shower: Simply cut a lemon in half and sprinkle baking soda on the chopped end. Squeeze the lemon so the juices mix with the baking soda and use the lemon to scrub your shower glass.
  • Drain cleaner: Bicarbonate of soda and vinegar together also form a mildly explosive mix and can be used effectively to clear blocked kitchen and bathroom drains rather than pouring litres of toxic drain cleaners down them.
    Here’s how: Pour boiling water down the drain. Next, mix one cup of baking soda with one cup of vinegar and pour that down the drain too. Cover the drain with a plug and allow the mixture to sit for about 10 minutes. Lastly, pour boiling water down the drain again to clear it.
    If your drain is clogged, the mixture will help to loosen the gunk because of its bubbling nature.

Use caution when…

Baking soda is abrasive and acidic, which means it isn’t always the best cleaning solution. Avoid using bicarb on these surfaces:

  • Wood
  • Aluminium
  • Marble
  • Anything with a gold or metal trim

White vinegar

White vinegar and apple, orange and lemon peels are also a great combo for cutting through tough grease. Add your peels to a glass jar and fill it with vinegar. Cover the mouth of the jar with parchment paper (don’t use a metal lid, it will rust) and an elastic band and let it infuse for two to three weeks.

Once you have allowed the mixture to sit for the appropriate amount of time, use one part of the vinegar and one part of the water to make a spray.

Watch this video for a step-by-step guide on how to make this cleaning solution:


Here are links to websites you may find handy:

This is an updated version of a post first published on 19 October 2009.