The Arts
Jan 2014

Green and Thrifty, with Notes of Fruit

Rigorous spring cleaning takes place in many Chinese homes during the run-up to the Lunar New Year as people strive to make their dwellings spotless for family meals and guests. Yet many chemical cleaning agents contain toxic elements that are detrimental to health and the environment, and eco-friendly detergents are a pricey alternative not every household can afford. But did you know you can whip up your own green cleaner using fruit dregs? They're surprisingly easy to make and more effective than you think. All it takes is a little patience.

Fruit-based Cleaners

The name 'garbage enzyme' does little justice to cleaning liquids made with fruit leftovers. They smell refreshing and work wonders on floors, cars, toilet bowls and kitchen sinks, among a multitude of things. To concoct your own all-purpose cleaning cocktail, you'll need a two-litre plastic bottle with an air-tight cap, 100 grams of brown sugar, 300 grams of fruit rind and pulp (after juicing), and one litre tap water. Put all the ingredients into the bottle, screw the cap on, and give it a good shake. Be sure to date the bottle as it will need to ferment for three months. Then leave it in a cool dark place.

Filter, Mix and Use

Every day for at least two weeks, open the cover to release the oxygen build-up. Make sure you do this as bottles have been known to explode. Alternatively, leave the cap half-way tightened to give the gas an outlet at all times. When ready to use, filter the now cloudy, brownish liquid with an old tee-shirt or pillow case. Mix the filtered fluid with one part all-purpose detergent (biodegradable is best), and 10 parts water, and clean away!

Citrus fruits smell best, while papaya, pomelo rind, and pineapple are said to be very powerful.

Other Green-cleaning Techniques

While your first bottle of fruit enzyme is fizzing away, there's no need to return to chemical soaps. A few simple, simple items from the pantry will keep your home sparkling clean. Combine one teaspoonful of baking soda, half teaspoonful of dish soap, and two tablespoonfuls of white vinegar for a handy all-purpose cleaner. Two grapefruit halves sprinkled liberally with coarse salt will remove grime from bath-tubs and showers, and leave metallic fixtures shining. Give your sink and stove-top a good scrubbing down with a paste of 1/3 cup baking soda and warm water. For no-frills toilet cleaning, pour one cup of baking soda into a drained toilet bowl, followed slowly by one cup of white vinegar. Be sure to cover as much of the bowl surface with vinegar as possible. Scrub with toilet brush, turn water back on, and flush.

To clean the microwave oven, put one tablespoon of white vinegar and two cups of water in a large bowl, and microwave until half the water has evaporated. Let the remaining water cool off for 10 minutes then carefully remove the bowl. Wipe the walls of the microwave with a sponge sprinkled with some baking soda. Wipe again with a damp cloth.


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