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Updated 06 February 2014

The great green clean

Reduce the chemical load in your home by swopping synthetic disinfectants - at least occasionally - for natural non-toxic ones like vinegar, which kills about 90% of microbes.

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Plain supermarket vinegar, which is usually sold as a 5% solution, kills about 90% of microbes. This is not quite as potent as most synthetic cleaners (which are closer to 99%), but then vinegar is so safe you actually put the stuff on your salad. Plus, it's cheap.

And besides, the aim is not to try to clean our homes to the point of sterility. Natural alternative cleaners are quite good enough - and far preferable - for most household cleaning tasks. So give them a chance - you don't have to shun the conventional harsh cleaners entirely, just use them less.

General cleaner

A ratio of 1:1 vinegar to water is fine for general cleaning, or try it neat for tough dirt like mouldy tile grouting, and on high-bacterial items like kitchen cutting boards. You can use it to clean practically any surface (except marble, which it may stain).

Toilet cleaner

Pour ¼ cup bicarbonate of soda into the bowl, and sprinkle with vinegar. Leave it to sit for about half an hour, then scrub and flush. (A similar version works as a drain cleaner too.

Voila: your toilet is clean and so is your environmental conscience.

Read more: Lemons: golden fruit

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