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Spring Clean

The astronomical spring (Northern Hemisphere) 2016 began on Sunday, March 20. It will end on Sunday, June 1. We celebrate by building a big wicker man and ….. no those days are over. Just a few charred photographs left to remind me. All we do now is have a jolly good spring clean. And here’s how to do it plastic free….

In this post you can read about

  • Chemical Cleaning
  • Mechanical Cleaning
  • Buy Or Make Chemical cleaning product
  • Mechanical Cleaning Aids

For cleaning products I use a combination of bought and what I have in the cupboard in conjunction with a bloody good scrub… i.e. both  chemical and manual cleaning

Chemical Cleaning 

Uses the power of chemicals in a solution to remove soils. Soils in this case refers to stains. You can read how alkaline dissolve fat and  why vinegar works here.

Mechanical Cleaners

These are the tools used to loosen, collect  and wipe up up dirt such as brushes mops and scouring pads. Often used in conjunction with chemical cleaners of course.

Posts

Essential Oils

Essential oils have gone from being an obscure aspect of botany to an all round marketing  ‘good thing’.  Almost every product you buy from washing powder to shampoo trumpets that they contain ...
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Cleaning Products – Chemical – Buy or make

For cleaning products I use a combination of bought and what I have in the cupboard in conjunction with a bloody good scrub... i.e. both  chemical and manual cleaning. Chemical Cleaning uses the ...
Read More

Sponge Cloth Biodegradable

Oh joy - just sourced some plastic free sponge cloths. I love these things. Sponge cloths are  extremely porous and great for wiping up water. Plus they dry really quickly. I love my cotton ...
Read More

How to Scrub Plastic Free

Although I use natural cleaning products like soap, bicarbonate of soda and occasionally Ecover cleaning products, I prefer not to. Cold water and elbow grease clears most things. I know I sound ...
Read More

Cleaning products – refill system

Planet Earth offers a range of household cleaning products with a unique refill and reuse system. It works and has been scientifically tested to be as good as the leading brand. It’s ...
Read More

Buckets – metal

Unlike cheaper plastic models, metal, industrial strength, hardworking galvanised products will give you years of service. We work in the building & landscaping trade and use these in preference to anything else ...
Read More

Cleaning products Ecover Refill Liquid Cleaners

ECOVER  do all of these products and you can get your plastic bottle refilled. To find where  Ecover have a refill station check the  postcode search on their site TOILET CLEANER LAUNDRY LIQUID, ...
Read More

Sweeping Up

When it comes to sweeping you cant beat a nice wooden brush with natural plant fibres. Why? Natural fibres have less flick than synthetic fibres which means less muck spattering. They collect ...
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Antiseptics & Disinfectants

This post talks about Microbes Antiseptics Disinfectants Alcohol Bicarbonate Of Soda Vinegar Hydrogen  peroxide Soap Essential oils This is an area where you want to do your own research and decide what level ...
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Bicarbonate Of Soda

This one product can replace hundreds of plastic bottles on your shelves. It does biodegrade. However there are issues about how it is obtained. I say it is a good product but ...
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Dirt, pH balance and chemical cleaning

In this post you cad read about Soils (Dirt) Alkaline Acid Cleaning Dirt, stains and even rusts  are all known  as soils in the cleaning world.  That is as  in soiled rather than ...
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How to wash the pots plastic free…..

By Hand...Sigh Washing up liquid and I use Ecover  in a refillable plastic bottle. I know the bottle is plastic but kitchen? glass? This is a case for reusable plastic if ever there ...
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Washing Soda? Bicarbonate Of Soda? Or Both?

 The trinity of green cleaning – washing soda, bicarbonate and borax. Often mentioned rarely explained! Let's take washing soda and bicarbonate of soda first. Why because they are related. Both can be ...
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Washing Soda

Sodium carbonate (also known as washing soda, soda ash and soda crystals) is the water-soluble sodium salt of carbonic acid. It is alkaline. Pure sodium carbonate is a white, doorless powder with a strongly alkaline taste.  Washing Soda or Sodium ...
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Soap

I use soap to wash my body I don't like using soap on my face so I cleanse with oil and water. instead of shampoo. washing the bath and other household cleaning chores ...
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mop and bucket

 I am something of an old pro when it comes to scrubbing. In my youth I was the cleaner of casinos. I swabbed down the gaming area, restaurant and croupiers changing rooms ...
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Pot & Bottle Brushes

There I was happily scouring away when I realised it was taking longer than usual to shift the burnt remnants at the bottom of the pan. When I checked out my little ...
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Washing Up Liquid Soap

Soap Flakes I did try to use soap flakes to wash up. I did not find it  pleasant. Yes it cleaned the pots but everything was so slippery that it was a ...
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Buy

Being committed to local shopping I prefer to buy that way whenever possible. I would encourage you to do the same. One of the joys of living plastic free is mooching round the local shops seeing what you can source.

If you can’t buy local, please do check the links in the posts.  They link direct  to the suppliers.  Do consider buying from them and support their online businesses.

If you can’t do that then I have put together and Amazon catalogue. Yes I know…

Amazon is a very dirty word at the moment and I thought long and hard before suggesting them.  Heres why I went ahead….. No we are not entirely happy with Amazons recent history. However these links are for 3rd party sellers, we have always found the Amazon service to be good and their packaging usually compostable. In the absence of anything else we feel we can recommend them.

Mop & Bucket

8 Litre Galvanized Mop Bucket 3x General Use Mops & Brushes Cotton Mop Heads 15/16" Size 14 Hand & Power Tools Lily and Brown Cotton Mop with Handle
8 Litre Galvanized Mop Bucket
£7.99
3x General Use Mops & Brushes Cotton Mo…
£9.34
Lily and Brown Cotton Mop with Handle
BM02 Pure Yarn Cotton Mop 225g with Handle Sealey BM05 Pure Yarn Cotton Mop 340g with Handle Silverline 509117 Pure Yarn Socket Mop
BM02 Pure Yarn Cotton Mop 225g with Handle
£8.88
Sealey BM05 Pure Yarn Cotton Mop 340g with …
£11.68
Silverline 509117 Pure Yarn Socket Mop
£3.01
13 Litre Galvanised Bucket
13 Litre Galvanised Bucket
£7.06

Dustpan & Brush

Faithfull BRBASS11 Stiff Bassine Hand Brush Silverline 794337 11 Inch Stiff Bassine Hand Brush HARRIS VICTORY COCO HANDBRUSH -94101-
Faithfull BRBASS11 Stiff Bassine Hand Brush
£1.94
Silverline 794337 11 Inch Stiff Bassine Han…
£2.94
HARRIS VICTORY COCO HANDBRUSH -94101-
Harris Victory PA359H 12-inch Coco Broom with Handle HBC Broom Head - Plain Stock, Filled Natural Coco 10" Harris Victory PA357H 10-inch Bassine Broom with Handle
Harris Victory PA359H 12-inch Coco Broom wi…
£3.62
HBC Broom Head – Plain Stock, Filled Natura…
£6.29
Harris Victory PA357H 10-inch Bassine Broom…
£3.48
Groundsman 13-inch Bassine/ Cane Broom with Handle Lily and Brown 12-inch Natural Soft Coco Broom Faithfull Pine Handle 48In X 15/16In
Groundsman 13-inch Bassine/ Cane Broom wit…
£8.39
Lily and Brown 12-inch Natural Soft Coco Br…
£6.98
Faithfull Pine Handle 48In X 15/16In
£1.44
Silverline 993059 Broom Handle Bracket Metal 26 - 29mm (1-1/8-inch) Diameter Town & Country 48-inch x 15/ 16-inch Threaded Wooden Broom Handle Town & Country 9-inch Medium Head Deck Scrub
Silverline 993059 Broom Handle Bracket Meta…
£4.13
Town & Country 48-inch x 15/ 16-inch Th…
£4.99
Town & Country 9-inch Medium Head Deck …
£7.00
10" Heavy duty bassine bristle hard yard broom head Town & Country 12-inch Soft Broom Head Metal Hooded Dustpan
10″ Heavy duty bassine bristle hard yard br…
£7.49
Town & Country 12-inch Soft Broom Head
£6.99
screw head
Metal Hooded Dustpan
£10.95
2x Metal Hand Shovels Large size Hand & Power Tools Harris Victory Metal Dustpan Metal dustpan and handbroom with natural bristles, red
2x Metal Hand Shovels Large size Hand &…
£8.45
Harris Victory Metal Dustpan
£9.00
Metal dustpan and handbroom with natural br…
Metal Long Handled Dustpan and Brush Strong Lobby Large Industrial Metal Dust Pan and Broom Rolson 60690 300mm Metal Dust Pan
Metal Long Handled Dustpan and Brush Strong…
£34.99
Rolson 60690 300mm Metal Dust Pan
£7.50
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Cleaning Products – Chemical – Buy or make

For cleaning products I use a combination of bought and what I have in the cupboard in conjunction with a bloody good scrub… i.e. both  chemical and manual cleaning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Chemical Cleaning uses the power of chemicals in a solution to remove soils. Soils in this case refers to stains. If you want to know, you can read how alkaline dissolve fat and  why vinegar works here.

If not just be aware that

  • Organic soils are usually best moved using alkaline cleaners.
  • Inorganic soils prefer and acid cleaner.

 

Buy Or Make Chemical Cleaners

Buy plastic free

The easiest way to get plastic free cleaning product is to buy Ecover refill liquids. Yes the original bottle is plastic but you get to reuse it. Mine are still going strong years into the project.

If you cant get those, this company sells concentrated liquids through the post. You refill your existing bottles and water down yourself. They come in plastic, but it represents a massive reduction.

Make your own

Or you could consider making your own cleaning products. It easy, can save you money and certainly cuts down on the amount of chemicals and colorings that you find in commercial products. With a small palette of ingredients you can clean just about anything.

When I say make I actually mean use neat or add water. It really is that easy. There are loads of complicated recipes on the internet using a mixture of ingredients. I have tried them but could see no discernable difference. Either other people have very dirty houses or I have very low standards.

Are they as good? Well it depends what you are using already. If you use green cleaners then yes they are and half the price. If you are using Cilit Bang all bets are off.

So while they might not work as well as Cilit Bang in extreme grime scenarios, for general cleaning they are fine.

And all of them smell better with none of that weird choking chemical smell or overwhelming perfumes you get with the cheaper commercial products

After a lot of experimentation I find I can mange with

  • Soapused in conjunction with a good scrubber cuts through most dirt. Alkaline
  • Bicarbonate Of Soda  for scouring and deoderizing. It can also be used to wash your hair and clean your teeth. Alkaline
  • Vinegar  dilute and use as a wipe. Also use as a conditioner for hair. Acid

Other people reccomend Washing Soda and Borax. I have tried both of these but find them to make little or no difference.

Scrub

Honestly I find the best way to clean is to use a mildly abrasive range of cloths and scouring pads

How to clean….

Hard plastic such as baths and toilet seats – Soap and a luffa or rough cloth

Tiles and porcelain – Bicarb on a cloth or luffa

Mildly Abrasive Paste – general cleaning

Add enough liquid soap to bicarbonate of soda make a paste

Wipe for windows and greasy surfaces

1/4-1/2 teaspoon liquid detergent/ soap

3 tablespoons vinegar

2 cups water

Shake & Vac

Bicarb  sprinkled on, left for a while then hoovered up.

More 

You can find lots more uses, details of where to buy and information about the product listed here.

 

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Sponge Cloth Biodegradable

Oh joy – just sourced some plastic free sponge cloths. I love these things. Sponge cloths are  extremely porous and great for wiping up water. Plus they dry really quickly. I love my cotton dish cloth – but it can get a bit whiffy in damp weather. Especially living in the van when it doesn’t  ever really dry out.

But up until now sponge cloths have been made from synthetic fibres and packed in plastic. Which we won’t use.

Not these from If You Care. They are made from 70% Cellulose and 30% unbleached non-GMO cotton. Cellulose and cotton are both biodegradable so when you are done they can go straight on the compost heap.

Better still the packaging is made from  100% compostable PLA-biopolymer derived from corn starch. Tis is  fully compostable plastic. On the pack it says that this is certified compostable by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) and compostable in commercial composting facilities. Just to let you know I compost a wide range of PLA products in my own compost bin.

They are machine washable up to 300 times. And of course being biodegradable, they don’t shed nasty plastic microfibres like synthetic cloths do. (Washing synthetic fabrics and clothing  releases millions of microscopic plastic fibers. These are then discharged into sewage system and ultimately out to sea. Some are ingested by sea creatures).

Washing synthetic fabrics and clothing also releases millions of microscopic plastic fibers. These are then discharge into sewage system and ultimately out to sea.

Buy Online

You can buy them online from Big Green Smile

If You Care do a lot of great kitchen products packed in cardboard packaging, including natural greaseproof paper.

In a shop

Unicorn in Chorlton, Manchester, sell something similar but in cardboard packaging.

More

See all the plasticfree cleaning products we have sourced, right here

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Kettle

People are always asking about plastic free kettles. There is one very easy answer – get a stove top kettle. That’s it. Spend a bit more and you can get one that doesn’t have a plastic handle. Spend a lot more and you get a kettle you will be handing on to your kids. I am saving up for this one.

Shropshire Made Traditional Kettle

  • Hand spun body and lid with durable hard anodised finish.
    Precision cast spout for perfect pouring.
    The base of kettle is very thick 1/4 inch (6mm) aluminium, we machine grind this flat to ensure rapid boiling on range hobs.
    Hand turned British oak handle & knob.
    Lovingly hand made in Britain.

A stove top kettle for use on range stoves, electric, gas, ceramic and halogen hobs. The perfect companion for country cottages, retro conversions, Victorian kitchens, Edwardian homes, glamping and garden cooking (it complements Netherton Foundry garden hob).

Comes in two sizes and  the packaging is cardboard.

Cheaper Kettles

The downside is they are over a hundred quid. You might want to look at some of the cheaper options below. The cheaper kettles often have plastic handles. Very cheap kettles often warp with time. You need a good heavy bottom!

Amazon Catalogue

Here are some links to products sold on Amazon. Amazon is a very dirty word at the moment and I thought long and hard before I did it. Heres why I went ahead…..

.

Grunwerg Cafe Ole Stainless Steel Stove Top Whistling Kettle 3L HTK-3
Grunwerg Cafe Ole Stainless Steel Stove Top…
£11.82
Wesco Classic Line Stainless Steel 2 Litre Stove Top Kettle, Black Garden Trading Enamel Stove Kettle - Flint Yoshikawa 1 Litre Stainless Steel Fons Drip Stove Kettle
Wesco Classic Line Stainless Steel 2 Litre …
£49.99
Garden Trading Enamel Stove Kettle – Flint
£31.50
Yoshikawa 1 Litre Stainless Steel Fons Drip…
£74.99
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Wire Wool

Steel wool consists of fine strands of steel which looks a bit like wool.
It can be used for cleaning, scouring and sanding.
I use it manly for cleaning pots. Same principal as a brillo pad but without the plastic packaging.
It can be bought from hardware shops and many of them sell it plastic free in either cardboard or paper packaging. However the trend is for increased plastic packaging so you might have to shop around!
The picture of the cardboard packaged steel wool is from the B&Q website so could look there.

More About Steel Wool

Steel wool comes in different thicknesses (grades).
The thicker the wool the more powerful the scouring / sanding.

I took the following from the Liberon Steel Wool website

Steel Wool is available in 7 grades from Ultra Fine 0000 through a range of Fine to Medium 00, 0, 1 and Medium to Coarse 2, 3 and 4.

Grade 0000 
- use to cut back between coats of French Polishes, varnishes and oil finishes 
- use to clean and polish metals such as bronze, copper, chrome, stainless steel and aluminium 
- use to cut back between coats of varnish or paint 
- use with soapy water to clean and polish porcelain, marble and glass without marking 

Light cleaning and surface preparation

Grade 00, 0, 1 
- use with Liberon Wax and Polish Remover to remove built-up wax polish, smoke and dirt on wood 
- use to clean, smooth and prepare wood or metal surfaces before re-polishing, waxing, varnishing or painting 
- use with a suitable solvent for light to medium cleaning of all metals 

Heavy cleaning and paint and varnish removal

Grade 2, 3, 4 
- Use with Liberon Fine Wood Stripper to remove softened French Polishes, varnishes, lacquers and paints from wood and metal surfaces 
- use to remove rust

Precautions
To avoid cuts never tear steel wool, cut to size with scissors or shears and always protect your hands with gloves when handling.

Important


Always test products on a spare surface or inconspicuous area first.
If in doubt use a finer grade first.

Pot Cleaning

You can find more pot scouring options here

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Frying Pans

I have been wanting to get rid of my non stick frying pan for ages. I bought it before I knew about polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), the plastic non- stick coating.  Nor did I know that polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) can give off toxic fumes that can kill budgies. I don’t have a budgie but even so! That doesn’t sound good.

Non Stick

I wanted a light weight pan with a ceramic non stick coating (promised to be toxin free), BUT it had to have a metal handle. Finally found this one from BergHOFF. The earth chef Montana range  which goes under the following specification….

  • Ceramic nonstick coating:
    • Naturally 6x stronger than traditional nonstick coatings
    • Non-toxic: no PTFE fumes
    • No PFOA used and energy-saving manufacturing
  • Hollow cast stainless-steel and riveted handles
  • Polished stainless-steel lids
  • Fast and even heat transfer
  • For all types of cooktops, including induction
  • Durable construction
  • Oven-safe to 540 degrees C / 1000 degrees F
  • Metal-utensil safe and dishwasher-safe

Delighted to see it came in cardboard packaging, disappointed to find it was also wrapped in a plastic bag. So far it is doing well….

If you can’t find one locally you can of course get them from Amazon – read more about our relationship here

BergHOFF 26 cm Earthchef Frying Pan
BergHOFF 26 cm Earthchef Frying Pan
£39.99

Cast Iron Pans

I chose this pan for the van. I really wanted a cast iron frying pan but our light weight flimsy camping stove would almost certainly crumple under the weight. Those of you with sturdier stoves could consider a U.K. made, cast iron pan from Netherton Foundry. It will last a life time . Pricey but nicey.

They alo do reather nice looking plastic free kettles.

If you cant afford to buy new you could try Ebay. They have a whole load of second hand iron pans for sale.

 

 

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Laundry – baskets

I love my wicker laundry basket. I have had it so long now I cant even remember where I got it from. It has a cotton liner which is usually in place but I took it out so you could see the quality of the weave.

Why? Well not all wicker is created equel. Some is cheap and flimsy and will fall apart. As with anything you pay more for quality but a good basket will last you for ever it seems. Mine has.

I would source some thing local so you can see how sturdy it is. You need to check the quality. If you can’t find a local weaver here’s a company that sell on line. I haven’t used them but  they look good. And they have been around for a long time. And they are U.K. based.

“Coates English Willow

: Based in the Somerset Levels, the heart of the willow industry, PH Coate and Son has been growing ‘Withies’ and producing wicker baskets and willow products since 1819.

The Somerset Levels is the most important wetland area in the UK. This unique landscape provides the perfect conditions for willow growing. Basket making willow has been grown here for two centuries, and it is now the only area left where it is still cultivated for the production of baskets, furniture, garden items and high quality artists’ charcoal.”

Here is one of their baskets

Washing Basket with Fingerholes
£35.30
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Cleaning products – refill system

Planet Earth offers a range of household cleaning products with a unique refill and reuse system.

It works and has been scientifically tested to be as good as the leading brand.

It’s an eco winner: To make a bottle of eco2life cleaner, fill a spray bottle about half full of ordinary tap water, simply add one ‘small wonder’ refill to the spray bottle and top up with cold tap water. Replace the trigger, give it a quick shake – you’re all set to go.

There is no lugging of ‘water’ back and forth, requiring less production, less energy, less packaging

Our spray trigger is designed for a long life and our spray bottles are reusable.

Vegetarian Society Approved.

It’s made in the UK and of course it’s made from naturally derived readily biodegradable aquatic safe ingredients with fully recyclable packaging.

Planet Earth eco2life ‘The brilliantly simple refill system’!

Please note

This post was written by the contributor. It is not a Plastic Is Rubbish review, does not represent my personal opinions and I may not have used this product or service. Instead it is a PfU.K. Directory submission.

The Pf U.K. Directory is…?

…a directory of UK-based groups, organisations businesses and individuals who are responding to the problems presented by the misuse of plastic. That does not mean anti-plastic necessarily but certainly plastic-problem aware.

In 2014 I hope to feature 12 UK-based initiatives featuring refuseniks, trash slashers, businesses and the rest.

The DIRECTORY is to promote their work not mine. Read more here…

Got a project?
It is very easy to get a project featured. Each contributor submits a short synopsis of their project, focussing on the plastic aware element and I post it. You can read the submission guidelines here.

Follow us on facebook here

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Buckets – metal

bucket featuredUnlike cheaper plastic models, metal, industrial strength, hardworking galvanised products will give you years of service. We work in the building & landscaping trade and use these in preference to anything else. Had them for years and they are still going strong.

Not just hard workers but the rugged materials and genuine old school design make them a thing of beauty. Wether sitting in the corner of the kitchen or out in the garden they look as good as they work.

I have found them in 3 sizes

27cm Galvanised Bucket
29cm Galvanised Bucket
31cm Galvanised Bucket

Buckets in the garden?
Not just for swabbing down the decking but they make attractive planters for herbs. Practical too as they are much lighter then pottery plant pots and,of course, much nicer than plastic.

How to make a bucket planter – drill some holes in the bottom and fill with soil.

Buy

You can find them in hardware stores and online.

Amazon Link – you can read our online policy here

13 Litre Galvanised Bucket
13 Litre Galvanised Bucket
£7.06
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Cleaning products Ecover Refill Liquid Cleaners

ECOVER  do all of these products and you can get your plastic bottle refilled. To find where  Ecover have a refill station check the  postcode search on their site

TOILET CLEANER
LAUNDRY LIQUID,
FABRIC SOFTENER,
MULTISURFACE CLEANER,
Washing up liquid (other options here)

You can find more about liquid cleaners here including how to make your own

 

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