The greening of cleaning

You can find cleaning products throughout Jerusalem, though some of the best cleansers can be made from simple products you have at home.

Green cleaning 521 (photo credit: Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT)
Green cleaning 521
(photo credit: Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT)
There are a few ways of dealing with Pessah cleaning. There is the modern method of cleaning and covering the entire operation in tin foil, making your kitchen look like a space-station base camp. Or you can seal up the entire place and take off for the holiday.
For those who’ll be cleaning and replenishing their stock of cleaning products this Pessah, please think again. Most of the cleansers that you will find in a conventional supermarket are full of toxic chemicals – ones that will not only poison children if swallowed but can also cause cancer from exposure over time and leach into our soil and waterways.
This article isn’t meant to be a downer, one that will scare you from ever buying Sano products again. But I do hope to help you think twice before you stock up on all the nasty cleaning products for Pessah.
I like to look at environmental action moderately.
There is no need to take drastic measures in one day.
I confess that in my home, I use a combination of traditional (read: “poisonous”) chemicals, which are stored far from the baby and family living quarters, and a simple collection of things that are very mild and environmentally compatible. My husband insists on buying chemicals, but we use them less and less, and I am slowly replacing these with better “green” solutions I find in stores and some that I make myself.
Here are some quick tips on green cleaning products:
You can always head to your local naturalfood store, which usually carries green cleaning products. Ecover is an old market favorite, but now even traditional companies like Ajax are starting to produce a green floor cleaner, which is available at Superpharm. Health-food stores carry Eco-Friend, which is an Israeli brand.
Green cleaners can come in many formats.
You can find floor cleaners, laundry detergents, non-chlorine bleach and scouring agents throughout Jerusalem, though some of the best cleansers can be made from simple products you have at home.
• Hard-water stains (calcium) on the sink do not need to be melted away with hazardous chemicals. Undiluted white vinegar set on the stain for a few minutes will do the trick. Pour some in the kettle to do the same. Let it soak for an hour or so.
• One part vinegar and one part baking powder will remove mildew or mold on tiles. Leave it for an hour or more to remove the stain.
• One part vinegar (or lemon juice) with one part water and some drops of essential oil make for an effective cleaner on your dusting rag.
• Vinegar and baking soda and an essential oil (for scent and natural antibacterial properties – usually pine) make a good scrubbing solution for kitchen counters. Ask your health store purveyor for more ideas on effective oils.
• Vinegar in a spray bottle and a wad of newspaper give glass and light fixtures a good shine.
• One part olive oil and one part lemon juice make an excellent wood cleaner for wooden tables and counters.
• Hardened stains on the floor and counters can be soaked with warm water before being cleaned.
Studies have shown that women who stay at home are particularly susceptible to the toxic effects of chemicals.
If your children are in kindergarten, investigate what kinds of products they use there.
If you’ve covered your house in tin foil, you can use it after Pessah for baking potatoes. If it’s not clean enough to use for that purpose, roll it into a ball – cats love shiny things to toss about.
The writer is the editor of Green Prophet (, an environment news site covering Israel and the Middle East.