Water Conservation and Protection Hints

Island Water, Best Practices

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Water stewardship poster

Household Cleaners in our Islands’ Waters


Many commercial household cleaning products are not groundwater or septic friendly because they contain toxins including chlorine, ammonia, lye, hydrochloric and sulfuric acids, xylene, formaldehyde, phenol, ethanol, and cresol.


Protect yourself, your family, our groundwater and the environment by putting together a safe cleaning kit with inexpensive, effective ingredients. The building blocks for this kit are baking soda, liquid soap, steel wool, vegetable oil, borax, washing soda, white vinegar, lemon juice, cream of tartar, and salt.


ALL PURPOSE CLEANER Mix 125 ml pure soap with 4 litres hot water. Add 60 ml strained lemon juice to cut grease or dissolve 60 ml baking soda in 1 litre hot water. Mix equal parts of vinegar and salt for scouring.


DISHES Add pure soap flakes to hot water, add vinegar for tough grease.


LAUNDRY Borax can replace detergent -125 ml per average laundry load. To enhance, add 80 ml washing soda to the water as the machine is filling. Put clothes in, add 375 ml of pure soap flakes. For hard water add 60 ml of vinegar during the first rinse. This is also a fabric softener.

When switching from detergent to pure soap, wash items twice with 80 ml of washing soda only to remove residues and reduce yellowing.

Use a hydrogen peroxide bleach or 125 ml of washing soda in a load of laundry. And you can add 125 ml of borax for additional cleaning power.


BATHROOM CLEANERS AND DISINFECTANTS Clean surfaces regularly with ½ c. borax in approx. 4 litres hot water or pure soap in hot water. For TUB AND TILE, use a firm bristled brush with plain baking soda or a mixture of 125 ml pure soap in 4 litres hot water with baking soda added. For MOLD AND MILDEW, rub tiles and grout with a cloth moistened with vinegar, then scrub with an old tooth or nail brush.


TOILET BOWL CLEANER Use borax or mix borax and lemon juice and let stand, then scrub. For regular cleaning, use pure soap and water. For stubborn calcium stains, put 1000 mg of vitamin C in the bowl, leave overnight, and scrub.


DRAIN CLEANER Use a plunger or metal snake and/or pour 125 ml baking soda down drain, followed by 125 ml vinegar. Cover the drain and overflow vent while it fizzes, then follow with hot water.


GLASS CLEANER Mix 65 ml vinegar or 15 ml lemon juice in a 1 litre spray bottle filled with warm water. Polish with newspaper.


OVEN CLEANER Wipe grease and spills asap, or line the oven with aluminum foil. If you need to clean, sprinkle baking soda on moist surface and scrub with steel wool. Or add baking soda to 250 ml of pure soap, 120 ml of lemon juice and 4 liters of hot water – wear gloves while scrubbing.


SCOURING CLEANER Use borax powder or baking soda or a paste made with pure soap and baking soda.


METAL POLISH For copper mix lemon juice or hot vinegar with a little salt and apply with a rag. For chrome, white flour or rubbing alcohol on a dry rag; for brass, equal parts of salt and flour with a little vinegar; for silver a paste of baking soda and water.


FURNITURE POLISH Dissolve 5 ml lemon oil in 250 ml vegetable oil and apply with a clean, dry cloth. Use almond oil, olive oil, or a combination of olive oil and lemon juice for unvarnished furniture.


FLOOR POLISH Melt 30 ml of paraffin wax in a double boiler, add 1 litre of mineral oil and a few drops of lemon oil. Apply with a cloth, allow to dry and polish.





*It is difficult to avoid all the harmful ingredients in the products we purchase, including those we use for personal care and as cosmetics. With a little effort, it is possible to eliminate the most toxic substances to protect your health and the environment. I have found two on-line resources that contain good, usable information.

The Suzuki Foundation’s Queen of Green at www.davidsuzuki.org/dirty dozen provides a wallet sized shoppers guide to ingredients to avoid.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics at www.safecosmetics.org/getthefacts/chemicals lists chemicals of concern by product category, in its RED LIST.

*Don’t flush unused, outdated, unwanted medications down sinks or toilets. You can return them to the Health Clinic or any Pharmacy where they will be disposed of safely. This ensures that children and pets cannot get a hold of them. It also keeps them out of the groundwater.