Nature not chemicals – alternatives for health and household

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Complementary medicine is becoming increasingly important as an adjunct to conventional medicine, in the same way that there are some intriguing alternatives in other areas, such as housekeeping. With home-made cleaning products, you’ll be doing yourself and nature a favor.

How environmentally aware are you? Do you look for ecological products when you're shopping? If so, you're not alone. However, government studies show that natural resources are at risk even here in Switzerland, for example our groundwater. “Residue from fertilizers and pesticides, ingredients in personal care products, cleaning materials, and medicines are adversely affecting the water quality,” according to the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). What's more, many health problems, such as allergies, eczema, and also respiratory diseases and even cancer, can be attributed to chemicals with which we are confronted on a daily basis.

Baking soda, soda crystals, vinegar, citric acid, and hard soap can be used to replace almost all drugstore products.

Natural alternatives for the home

Cleaning toilets, descaling showers, and unblocking drains – there’s a bottleful of an appropriate product in the cleaning cupboard for every use. Many of these bottles contain a veritable cocktail of chemicals, and are harmful to people, animals, and the environment. Unfortunately, many people still don't realize how easy it is to replace toxic products with natural ones. All you need for a sparkling clean home are just a few household products: sodium bicarbonate, soda crystals, vinegar, citric acid, and hard soap. Faced with this dream team, even the most stubborn dirt doesn’t stand a chance. And best of all, when used sensibly, all of these products are harmless, environmentally safe, and inexpensive. Give them a go and you’ll be amazed how well you manage without your special cleaning products!

Five simple eco cleaning products

Drain cleaner

  • Pour 4 tablespoons of soda crystals down the plughole
  • Then add 1 cupful of white vinegar
  • Leave for a few minutes
  • Rinse away with hot water


Window cleaner

  • 500ml water 
  • A few drops of washing-up liquid
  • A dash of vinegar
  • A dash of methylated spirit
  • Pour all of these into  a spray bottle and shake gently


Descaling spray

  • 500ml luke-warm water 
  • 50g citric acid
  • 1 tsp washing-up liquid or liquid soap
  • 10 drops of essential oil, e.g. lemon (optional)
  • Pour all of these into a spray bottle and shake well


Toilet cleaner

  • Pour 1-2 cups of vinegar around the toilet bowl
  • Sprinkle 2-3 tbsp of sodium bicarbonate over the vinegar and distribute it evenly using the toilet brush
  • Leave for 15 minutes
  • Give the toilet another good scrub, then flush it


Washing-up liquid

  • Bring 500ml water to the boil
  • Dissolve 10-15g of grated hard soap into the water
  • Leave the water to cool, stirring it several times
  • Add 3-4 tsp sodium bicarbonate (depending on how hard the water is)
  • Add 10-20 drops of essential oil, e.g. orange (optional)
  • Give it another good stir and pour it into a bottle

You can find these and countless more tips and recipes at smarticular (in German). You can find everything you need for these home-made products in the supermarket, pharmacy, or drugstore. If you need large quantities of sodium bicarbonate, it’s better and cheaper to order it online. For small quantities, ordinary baking powder will do the job – it consists mainly of sodium bicarbonate. You can use vinegar essence (25% acid) instead of household vinegar (5% acid). Just dilute one part of vinegar essence with four parts of water. When used in this way, colorless vinegar essence is perfect for cleaning and washing.

Take care when using “natural” cosmetics

As well as your cleaning cupboard, it's also easy to revolutionize your bathroom cabinet with its stock of toiletries. This calls for curiosity, a readiness to try something new, and – if need be – a trip to the drugstore or health-food shop. You can find countless hints and tips, recipes, and experiences via the Internet. Even if making your own toiletries requires a bit of time and patience, it’s worth it, not just because natural cosmetics are often pretty pricey, but also because unfortunately they are not all entirely above suspicion. Some so-called natural cosmetics contain nearly as many harmful substances as conventional products (source: Biorama, in German).

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    Which products are “clean”?

    The free CodeCheck smartphone app (German and English) can tell whether a product contains problematic substances from its barcode. So if you're not sure, you can make the right decision before you buy. This is, and will remain, the best way of combating unnecessary chemicals.

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Complementary medicine: supplementary insurance options

If you want to opt for natural ways of treating your health problems too, don't rely on a basic insurance policy – it won't cover alternatives to conventional medicine. However, supplementary insurance options often make generous contributions towards complementary treatments. For example, AXA’s outpatient products cover 75% of the cost of complementary treatments if these are medically necessary. Find out more here.

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