Chlorine bleach is a substitute for hydrogen, used in many cleaning and laundry brands and ‘thick bleach’ for toilets. Made by splitting salt, it’s toxic to people and pets, and poisons wildlife, rivers and seas (and contributes to acid rain, ozone depletion and climate change). Also found in medicines, tap water, swimming pools, PVC (a toxic plastic) and used to wash animal-based foods. Chlorine toxins can also be produced when burning items in incinerators, bonfires and pottery kilns (and leaded petrol). And chlorine is also used to bleach paper and disposable nappies.
Natural oxygen bleach (sodium percarbonate) is a mix of water, salt and chalk that breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate (it does not bleach clothes, like chlorine). Never mix bleach (natural or otherwise) with anything as it produces sometimes lethal gas. Wear Fair Trade rubber gloves (to avoid irritation) and store in a cool dark place away from children and pets (hydrogen peroxide could cause irritation and bleach fur; birds in particular are sensitive to all fumes).
To activate oxygen bleach, you must add water heated to at least 40 degrees C (it’s only effective for a few hours, but you can pour leftover solution down the sink, where it will unblock drains and then safely biodegrade). Recycle old empty bleach bottles (if they still contain toxic bleach, wrap securely before safe disposal in the bin). Good brands of oxygen bleach are:
- Eco Living (code englandnaturally for 5% discount)
- Wilton London
- Peace with the Wild
- Bio D Laundry Bleach
- Mangle & Wringer
Clean/Disinfect (4 tbls in 1 litre of hot water is good for ovens). To clean fridge (1 tbl in cup of warm/hot water, soak for 10 minutes, wipe clean). To clean toilet bowl (pour in 6 tbls, scrub, rinse).
Laundry booster(add few tbls to dispenser). For whitening (linen, trainers, armpit stains – soak in 2 tbls hot water for at least one hour). To bleach nappies (soak in hot water for at least 30 minutes, then wash).
Mug stains (1/2 tsp to each mug, fill with boiled water, wait 15 minutes, then wash). Also for jars (to disinfect and remove labels).
Mould (make a spray with warm water, apply and wait 15 minutes, rinse, wipe). For mouldy shower curtains (soak in solution of 2 tbls with 5 litres hot water). To clean tile grout (mix 3 tbls in 2 gallons hot water, apply, wait 15 mins, rinse with clean water).
Dustbins (mix cup of bleach with gallon of water, clean & rise). For mops, brooms, scrub brushes (soak in solution of hot water in bucket).
Stains (pre-soak few tbls in bowl of warm water, then wash). To spot-clean, mix with warm water to a paste, rub and wash. For upholstery stains (mix 1/2 tbl with 250ml of warm water in bottle. Scrub and leave, pour over fresh water and blot (test area first – not for wool or silk).
Fences (hose-spray to wet, apply solution with paintbrush, leave 5 to 15 mins, spray again to rinse). For decks & patios (clean with solution, leave 30 minutes, dry and rinse).
Chlorine is a poisonous gas. In case I should fall over unconscious in the following demonstration involving chlorine, please pick me up and carry me into the open air. Should this happen, the lecture for the day will be concluded. Egon Wiberg