Can you remain clean and green? SPRING cleaning your home will certainly make it brighter and fresher - but at what cost to the environment? You could opt for the more eco-friendly products but how do they match up to your usual products? We tested a range of 'green' cleaning products to find out how they perform for the money. At Home.
IN THE WASHING MACHINE
Lakeland Dolly Washer Balls Price: pounds 13.99
YOU might be dubious about the effectiveness of adding a few hard plastic balls to your washing. These look like brightly-coloured juggling balls and claim to add extra scrubbing power to your wash.
So we put them to the test with a real challenge - a pair of heavy, lined winter curtains. The noise is a little alarming as they rattle merrily away in the drum, but the final results are excellent.
Our tester reported that they left her curtains looking brand new and were the cleanest they had been in years.
Now she is merrily adding the balls to every wash and has been able to cut the amount of soap powder needed.
Lakeland Wash-it Laundry Ball and Stain Stick (above, right) Price: pounds 7.99/pounds 5.99
ANOTHER plastic contraption for your washing machine - and this time you will not even need any laundry detergent.
It does not seem possible that a small, white plastic ball could handle a pile of dirty washing, but it tackled teacloths stained with pasta sauce, sweaty gym socks and grubby towels without a hitch.
Here is the science bit. Inside the ball are special pellets which "activate" water molecules producing electrolytic oxygen and hydrogen ions, which lift dirt from clothing fibres.
It seems incredible and our tester did not even have to use the stain stick - recommended for particularly tough stains.
The results were amazing and the ball itself lasts for 100 loads - and it's hypo-allergenic and environmentally friendly.
Our tester said: "I felt like dancing around the kitchen."
Lakeland Laundry Fragrance (below, right) Price: pounds 4.99
IF you want some smell to your laundry, this product, which uses only essential oils, adds an instant touch of spring. It smells of fresh, green apples and you only have to pop a few drops into the wash to give clothes a wonderful scent.
It is particularly nice to use on bedding and towels and a little goes a long way.
Lakeland Soap Nuts/Liquid Soap Nuts Price: pounds 5.99/pounds 7.99
NOW this really takes the biscuit. The idea of using something completely natural to wash your clothes is very appealing to many people. But old nut shells?
The product contains "Mother Nature's detergent" saponin and you literally pop a few reusable soap nuts in a small muslin bag that is provided in the drum of your machine.
But do they get your clothes every bit as clean as washing powder?
You can even put them on your compost heap when they are spent - and you cannot get much greener than that.
Price: pounds 34.99
THIS is another product you can use instead of detergent. They claim to save water and energy by doing without the need for a second rinse cycle. The manufacturers say they produce ionised oxygen that naturally activates the water molecules. They also soften the water so no fabric conditioner is needed.
A pack comes with three Eco balls and each one should last for 1,000 washes, which is pretty cost-effective.
It is a bit odd not putting any detergent in your wash but they really do work and if you have stubborn stains there is a stain stick included to use on them.
They are odourless (some people might not like that as they associate "clean" with a nice scent) and they save you a lot of money over time, especially if you normally use fabric conditioner too.
Ecover washing powder Price: From pounds .4.38
THERE is no plastic in the packing here which is a big bonus. The powder comes in a cardboard box and even the dispenser is a little cardboard pouch.
It is based on plant and mineral ingredients and can be used at low temperatures.
It struggled with stubborn stains, but our testers would still buy this powder for its environmentally-friendly credentials.
Ecover fabric softener (left) Price: pounds 1.36
IT might be a bit more expensive than your regular brand, but the comfort is knowing that this product is based on plant and mineral ingredients and has no petrochemical-based ingredients.
It has a lovely fresh scent that is not too overpowering and leaves clothes lovely and soft.
IN THE TUMBLE DRYER
JML Dryer Balls Price: pounds 9.99
THESE pretty pastel blue and pink knobbly balls are meant to reduce drying time and leave clothes feeling soft and fluffy.
They make a bit of a racket in the dryer and testers found they did not really make much difference to the drying time.
But they did reduce static and clothes definitely felt softer - especially towels.
IN THE KITCHEN
Marks & Spencer Naturally Inspired (left) Price: pounds 1.99
THESE spray-gun bottles are almost double what you would normally pay, but they smell gorgeous and are almost an air freshener and cleaner in one.
There are no synthetic cleaning chemicals in here just nature's own weapons such as citrus fruit extracts and borax.
It leaves the kitchen smelling lovely and looks good enough to leave out on your counter, rather than hidden away in a cupboard.
DS140307BALLS1 PERFECT BALANCE.. Lakeland Dolly Washer Balls were a hit with tester Suzanne Jackson. Picture: DARRYL SMITH