How safely and responsibly do you dispose of the water used to clean your house? We know that our laundry, bath and kitchen waste water have nowhere else to go other than down the drain, but do we take the effort to find out where it will end up eventually? While most wastewater is treated and cleaned to be sent back into circulation for use, some of it ends up reaching natural water bodies, causing pollution and damage to the life there. More than waste from homes posing a risk, industrial waste most often goes into these rivers, lakes, and sometimes directly into the ocean. The least we can do is check the harmful effects caused by chemicals in our cleaning products, and make changes accordingly.

While most of our floor, glass, toilet cleaning and detergent fluids contain highly toxic chemicals, we haven’t looked around much to see if there are sustainable solutions which can replace these in a daily use situation. I hadn’t, until recently, heard of soap nuts - a fruit, whose pulp naturally lathers up and has the ability to clean and remove stains from fabric, skin and hair. Soap nuts are sold as a powder or in the form of ready cleaning products which have been made from their pulp. Even though they are very effective in cleaning almost anything, they are gentle on hair and skin, making them quite versatile and easy to use, causing no pollution to the water they are mixed with. In fact, cleaning water which contains soap nuts powder is considered sustainable even to water plants, and allows them to flourish healthily. Soap nuts also act as a powerful insecticide, killing small pests which infest homes and also helping kill lice in the hair.

Soap nuts are effective in cleaning as well as safe for the environment.

These laundry detergent bars are made entirely from natural ingredients, including soap nuts and saponified coconut oil, making them hard on stains of sweat and dirt, especially in hard-to-reach areas like the collars and cuffs. Unlike high alkaline content found in regular laundry bars, these are made to be gentle on the skin and easy to use, even leaving the water clean enough to pour for your plants. A similar formula is also available in the form of a liquid detergent and these liquids barely leave any residue on the clothing, requiring very little water to rinse them out. The brand Bubble Nut Wash not only makes these detergents, but also veggie and fruit wash, floor cleaner liquid, hand wash, dishwashing fluid among many other eco-friendly cleaning and self-hygiene products. All of their products have strong microbial action and are non-toxic, containing no artificial colours, fragrances or other chemicals.

There are, in fact, a vast array of eco-friendly, sustainable home cleaning products available in the market - like these vinegar and baking soda based glass-cleaning sprays which are free from alcohol and especially manufactured knowing the dust and hard water situation in India. They come with the pleasing scent of iris, vanilla and almond and are extremely easy to use, leaving all the glass surfaces in your home or car sparkling clean. Similarly, here is a glass cleaner spray that effectively removes dust, grime, fingerprints and water spots from any glass or metallic surface to give you the best shine possible. These eco-friendly cleaning formulas are free from ammonia and any toxic chemicals, causing absolutely no harm to the environment.

Baking soda and vinegar make a powerful combination in cleaning products.

While we realise it would be hard, and almost impossible to redirect where the used water goes from our washing and cleaning activities, we surely can make the effort to use less chemicals and be more environmentally conscious with the products that go into water bodies. It would mean less damage to the earth, water, aquatic life, and ensure no algae formation or putrefaction. We have in fact seen so many lakes covered in stinky, burning foam and that needs to finally be reversed, cleaned up, and enough damage has been made by then. The cleaner we maintain the water, it will also have fewer pests like mosquitoes and mayflies laying eggs, multiplying in number. Polluting is easy, but it's the reversal of damage that is the need of the hour and in need of our immediate attention.