Cleaning expert sorts out the truths and half truths of eco-cleaning tips

With the rise of green consumerism, consumers are inundated with information on green cleaning tips from the Internet, social media and other sources. Green cleaning refers to making use of natural cleaning agents, mostly those which are already available from one’s own kitchen, to clean household items such as kitchen sinks, toilet bowls, plates among others.

Local cleaning expert Roxanna Pelka analysed and tested 10 of the most popular green cleaning techniques in a quest to separate the truth from the myth about these so-called natural dirt busters. Here’s what she found out — you might be surprised to know your grandmother hadn’t always been right about how she taught you to clean your kitchen.

1.    Coffee: The sink unclogger - FALSE

Coffee grounds are not sandpaper - even if they seem like it.  Rather than scrubbing the pipes off leftovers,  the grounds can cause more clogging if mixed with the remains, accumulating into a proper chunk, which can then be only removed by unscrewing the tube. Instead, try pouring four teaspoons of baking soda into the sink, then add a cup of vinegar. If there are signs of fizziness, rinse it down with hot water and your pipe will be unclogged again!

2. Ketchup: The metallic pot cleaner - CORRECT

Have you tried removing the burnt stains off the back of your shiny metallic pots and pans? You wouldn’t believe it, but… ketchup helps to remove tough stains like these! Stainless steel pots usually have a tough layer of copper, where copper oxide is formed during cooking. The ketchup on the other hand contains acetic acid that attacks the copper active base of the pan. Simply coat the black surface with a thick layer of ketchup and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then, wipe it away and watch the black stains disappear right before your very eye!

3. Potted plants: The dust absorber - CORRECT

Dust appears everywhere, even after having cleaned it away 10 minutes ago! Dust can be annoying and causes your allergies to flare up. Fret not, not only do they just bring life to the living room, aesthetically, they also filter the pollutants from the air and provide us with fresh oxygen. Plants such as ferns and orchids have the ability to catch floating dust on their leaves and can be wiped off with a damp cloth. Now you can finally take a nice and deep breath in your home!

4. Vinegar: The multi-purpose cleaning agent - FALSE

“Vinegar cleans everything!” Well, almost! While vinegar has the reputation of being able to clean anything, this ingredient should not be used for all surfaces. For instance, natural stone surfaces such as granite and marble, as well as pipes or rubber seals, can be damaged if they reacted with vinegar! The acid from the vinegar will react aggressively with these materials and destroy them.

5. Wearing gloves: The bacteria protector - FALSE

We put on our cleaning gloves to protect ourselves from harmful bacteria and germs without knowing that the inside of the gloves can also be worrying. The latex surface creates humidity inside and provide the perfect habitat for bacteria. To protect yourself from these bacteria, keep your gloves dry after each use! Simply place them in hot water mixed with two teaspoons of vinegar and a little detergent for 10-15 minutes. Afterwards, just wring them thoroughly and dry them in a cool place.

6. Sparkling water: The stain remover - CORRECT

Created another stain on your shirt? Quickly grab a bottle of sparkling water or soda pour, saturate the spot with the gassy drink and blot it up with a dry and absorbent cloth in a circular motion. Always dab and never rub! Let the carbon dioxide dissolve the colour and tannins from the fabric (it doesn’t work for fat or oil). The end results normally depends on the type of stain the amount of carbon dioxide that is in that fuzzy drink. The more carbon dioxide that is inside the water sparkles, the easier it is to remove the dirt from the fabric.

7. Lemon juice: The exhaust duct polisher - TRUE

Our exhaust duct not only absorbs odours, but also oil stains! To remove the oil stains, rub half a lemon all over the metal surface. The acid quickly and efficiently removes the fats and oils. For stubborn stains, add a few drops of detergent on a cloth and gently rub the stains away. Avoid using stainless steel sponges, they tend to scratch the hood, making it shine even lesser than before.

8. Oil: Sticky residue remover - TRUE

This Granny tip has been doing wonders against stubborn glue and sticker stains. The fatty acids in the butter and oil dissolve the glue quickly and effectively. Simply mix olive oil and a pinch of salt in a bowl and rub the olive oil mixture onto the sticky areas with a kitchen cloth. After rubbing the glue off, wipe the area clean with a spritz of water and some kitchen top cleaning solution.

9. Coke: The toilet unclogger - PARTIALLY TRUE

Many of us have witnessed the “Mentos and Coke” technique to unclog your toilet on various YouTube videos. While this trick generates high pressure, which indeed can clear blockages, the pressure generated might be too powerful for the pipe and end up destroying it! For a milder but equally effective method, pour hot (not boiling) water one meter from the toilet bowl. The pressure from the pour will remove the blockage, without the nasty mess!

10. Toothpaste: The jewellery cleaner - CORRECT

Is your silver jewellery is starting to lose its shine? Just as effective as it is with your teeth, toothpaste is also a perfect solution for your silverware! Get your toothpaste (not gel) out of the bathroom and scrub the dull areas with a toothbrush. Rinse the toothpaste off by dipping the silverware into a cup of warm water. The oxidised particles will be quickly washed away and your jewellery will start to shine again!

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