Cleaning the House and Caring for the Environment

For the traditional spring cleaning before Pesach, here are some ways to remain environmentally friendly while you clean.

Schoolchildren participate in International Cleanup Day in Afula. (Photo: Yoav Devir, KKL-JNF Photo Archive)

Many of the cleaning agents that we use when cleaning contain substances that are very harmful to the environment, and when they are used up, we are left with their plastic containers, which also turn into environmentally harmful waste. The solution to this problem is simple - reduce the use of cleaning agents.
1. Sweep often (before mopping!) to gather crumbs, dust and dirt, which can attract insects and mice, and thereby avoid the need for extermination (another pollutant) or serious floor washing.
2. When using cleaning agents, use as little as possible (also laundry soap, which, by the way, will get the laundry just as clean if less is used).
3. Some of the substances we normally use may easily serve as substitutes for artificial cleaning agents. Liquid squeezed from a lemon can rinse and shine sinks and faucets, and vinegar can be used to clean articles and surfaces, even floors and windows. To add a good scent, one can use aromatic essential oil, which comes in a variety of scents. It is available in health food stores, and a few drops can be added to the pail:
  • Rosemary oil repels insects
  • Cinnamon oil repels ants
  • Tea tree, eucalyptus and lavender oil are sterilizers
4. After laundering clothing and linens, instead of stuffing them in the dryer (and consuming extra electricity, which is also expensive and also environmentally harmful) hang them on a clothesline. Now that winter is behind us, sunshine can do wonders, not only as a quick clothes dryer but also as a bleach.

5. Cleaning implements, like other things, can be recycled. Instead of buying new cleaning cloths made of materials that are not biodegradable or paper towels, use old clothes that are no longer wearable. Plastic bottles that once had cleaning agents in them can be refilled with cleaning agents that are sold in bags, and if the bottles are thrown away, then they should be disposed of in bins for recycling plastic.