A different cleaning product for each surface: is that necessary?
13 Apr 2021Updated: 4 hours ago | people are reading
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A whole cupboard full of cleaning products for the windows, the stove, the bathroom and the toilet: is that necessary? What is the difference between the products and do they also burden the environment? Eight questions for Wesley Browne, professor of Chemistry at the University of Groningen and Heleen Slob, spokesperson for the independent information organization MilieuCentraal.
What types of cleaning agents are available?
"All cleaning agents are chemical," says Browne. "You can distinguish two groups of cleaning products. One group, which includes bleach, is reactive and kills bacteria. The other group, which includes soap, is made from fats mixed with oil or lye."
Does the production of cleaning agents burden the environment?
"Some of the cleaning agents are made from petroleum. Others are made from vegetable raw materials such as palm oil and coconut oil. They both have their advantages and disadvantages," says Slob. "Both require raw materials and energy. Petroleum runs out once and provides extra CO2 in the atmosphere. Plant raw materials do not run out, but it does require agricultural land and plantations, which is often accompanied by deforestation." >
"It is good to switch to cleaning products that are not made from oil," says Browne. "But remember that using biological raw materials is not automatically good. Think of palm oil."
What about substances that get into the water?
"Cleaning agents can contain harmful substances" , says Slob. "You throw the dirty water down the drain into the sewer. That water is properly purified, but harmful substances can remain in the sewage sludge of water treatment plants. Surface water can then become contaminated."
"Sulphates in products are for example not good, "says Browne. "These kill bacteria in the water that are needed for cleaning. Many people think that bleach is very bad, but bleach dissolves almost immediately in salt, water and oxygen when you use it. Also surfactants that provide foam are not good. They end up in the environment. "
What can you do about this environmental burden and pollution?
" Do not buy another product for every cleaning activity and do not buy too much a lot ", advises Slob. "And for its use, the following applies: dosing properly. By dosing you prevent wastage and unnecessary burden on sewage treatment. So follow the instructions on the label."
Are natural cleaning agents also available?
Slob: "Certain bottles actually have the word 'natural'. But you have to pay attention if that is not an empty slogan from the manufacturer. What you can pay attention to are eco-labels. A good label gives the guarantee that the product contains no harmful substances. Also, products with an eco-label have the least impact on the environment during production. "
Approximately how many cleaning products do you need?
"There is only a small difference between the cleaning products," says Browne. "To a large extent the same ingredients are used. It is more of a placebo effect if you think that one product works better on a surface than another. Vinegar is a very good cleaning product. It is safe and effective. Use vinegar, a a little soap and sometimes some bleach, that's all you need. "
Slob:" I myself have three things with which I do everything: all-purpose cleaner with a label, cleaning vinegar and washing-up liquid. Glass cleaner? You can just use cleaning vinegar Also consider all the packaging that needs to be made and that contribute to the landfill. "
" By dosing you avoid waste. " (Photo: 1234RF)
Are there products that you should avoid?
"Do not use products that do not have a label and do not contain ingredients," says Slob. "Cleaning agents with volatile organic compounds, such as certain spray cans and glass cleaners, are also not good for the environment."
What are other environmentally-friendly cleaning tips?
Slob: "Always use a bowl when cleaning and do not let the water run all the time. Use cold water if possible. In addition, never throw soap in the garden or on the street, then the substances will absorb into the soil. This also applies to soapy water with cleaning vinegar. " / p>