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Candice Esterhuyse

May 3, 2023

Eco kondo: the sustainable art of cleaning up

Don’t freak out, but every single thing you eat, drink, buy, use, and wear eventually ends up making its way back into nature. By default, that means everything you consume can either feed our planet or poison her. It’s a lot of pressure, but it’s not all doom and gloom. If you get a little creative, you can usually find an earth-friendly alternative.

Here are three tried and tested eco alternatives to harsh chemical cleaning agents, made from ingredients you can find at home.

Citrus & Vinegar Cleaning Spray


White vinegar (can be swapped out for apple cider vinegar)

Citrus rinds (your choice of lemon, orange, grapefruit, lime, or a mix of whatever citrus you have at home)

This 2-ingredient spray is non-toxic, easy to make and even looks kinda pretty. The main ingredient is white vinegar, sometimes labelled “cleaning vinegar”. This vinegar naturally contains acetic acid which breaks down grease and oils as well as the membranes of most bacteria such as E.coli, causing the microbes to die.

Fun fact: people have been using vinegar for cooking and medicinal uses from as early as 3000BC. Unfortunately, this natural disinfectant doesn’t work on ALL pathogens and is not known to be effective against the coronavirus.

The second ingredient, citrus, contains aptly named citric acid, which is antibacterial, antiseptic and acts as a natural bleach – it also smells amazing.

How to make it

Add your citrus rinds to a big glass jar, then fill the jar all the way up with the vinegar, ensuring that all your peels are submerged. If you want to experiment with scents, you could add fresh herbs such as lavender, rosemary or mint. Seal and leave at room temperature for at least one week, up to three weeks, giving it a little shake every few days. When your concoction is ready, simply strain it and bottle it in a recycled spray bottle.

How to use it

Due to its corrosive potential, do not use on granite, marble, stone or wood. This spray is ideal for cleaning non-porous surfaces like glass, mirrors, windows, inside the microwave, ovens, stainless steel sinks, and inside the loo.

Lemon & Salt Scrubbers




We’ve already mentioned the cleaning abilities of citrus fruits like lemons, so let’s get straight to it. Salt, aka sodium chloride, aka nature’s great exfoliator, is one of the best cleaning agents to have in your arsenal. Its secret power is its ability to absorb wet or sticky substances, fats and oils – that’s why people pour salt onto spilt red wine.

How to make it

Chop a lemon in half, dip the open end into some chunky table salt, and voila – you’ve got a lemon-scented scrubber ready to go. Easy-peasy eco-lemon-squeezy.

How to use it

Use it as an exfoliating scrubber to remove stains from chopping boards, clean your cheese grater, scrub your oven’s grill, or scrub oils from the bottom of your copper pots.

Bicarb & Vinegar Drain Cleaner


Bicarbonate of soda (aka baking soda)

White vinegar

How to make it

Bicarb, baking soda, cooking soda, bicarbonate of soda, sodium bicarbonate, or sodium hydrogen carbonate – this natural cleaning product has as many uses as it has names.

Where vinegar is acidic, bicarb is alkaline. It can be used for cooking, cleaning, as a fungicide or pest control, as a mild disinfectant, to put out electrical or grease fires, to remove odours, and more. It’s pretty much powdered magic.

Use it alongside vinegar (like you would in that famous volcano science project) and the reaction can help you dislodge muck and unclog your drains.

How to use it

First, pour your bicarb powder down the drain, then follow it with an equal amount of white vinegar. Cover it with a wet cloth to contain the foam reaction. Wait 5 minutes, then flush with hot water from the tap.

And there you have it… You’ve just cancelled your need for chemical window cleaner, toilet cleaner, drain cleaner, and more. That means less nonsense in your home, in your body, and out into the world.

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