Every Little Helps
I’m not a zealous environmentalist but I do like to do my bit for the Planet where I can as I believe every little help. It may be reducing the amount of single use plastic, recycling as much as possible, aiming for zero waste or using homemade cleaning products.
The goal should be zero waste and reducing the amount of rubbish that we send to the dump so my new mantra is:
Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot.
When I was little I spent a lot of time with my Nan and I always remember her using things like vinegar and scrunched up newspaper to clean the windows and bicarbonate of soda and lemon juice to clean things.
I do still use some shop bought cleaning products, but I do try to buy environmentally friendly ones where possible. However, I also still use a lot of the things my Nan used as they actually work really well; and quite often better than the shop bought equivalents.
Top 5 Natural Cleaning ingredients
Here’s my top 5 favourites ingredients:
1. Bicarbonate of Soda (bicarb) – this has so many uses and is made from a naturally mined mineral trona, which apparently there is plenty of.
You’ll need to buy quite a lot of it, Wilko sell 500g for approx £1.75.
2. Vinegar – this is basically an alcoholic liquid that has been allowed to sour, it’s bee around for a long time. Apparently around 5000 BC the Babylonians were using the fruit of the date palm to make wine and vinegar to be used as food and a preservative or pickling agent. For cleaning purposes, I would use Distilled White Vinegar. Although if you need to go heavy duty then Malt Vinegar has a bit more oomph.
3. Lemons – obviously a fruit they are high in citric acid. Lemon juice is one of the best natural cleaners due to its low pH and antibacterial properties. Lemons also smell great and aren’t likely to cause damage anything.
4. Newspapers – the paper doesn’t scratch but you need to check that it isn’t printed using petroleum-based ink which isn’t any good for cleaning. If the paper stains your fingers when you rub it, the paper uses petroleum-based ink.
5. Essential Oils (or fresh woody herbs) – naturally occurring plant compounds that are useful for adding a lovely scent to your homemade products and are also antibacterial, just be careful not to use them neat. My favourites are lemon, tea tree, rosemary and lavender.
How and where to use your natural cleaning Products
Now that you have your essential ingredients here’s what you can use them for. I’ve split them into rooms so it’s easier, but you’ll notice that they’re basically using the same mixture in multiple places.
The bath and shower will always be tough to clean but with a mixture of bicarb and water mixed into a paste and rubbed on and left for a few minutes then rinsed off will clean it nicely. You can add a few drops of essential oil to make it smell nice.
Limescale can be removed with lemon or vinegar but you need the liquid to soak in for around an hour before rinsing. You can spray the liquid onto shower screens or for taps I find soaking a cotton cloth in the liquid is easiest as I just wrap it around the tap.
For daily bathroom cleaning mix equal parts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle and add a few drops of your favourite essential oil.
You can also add half a cup of bicarb and half a cup of vinegar to the toilet bowl and leave to soak to get rid of stains, you’ll see it fizz!
For the kitchen worktops you can use the same general cleaning spray as you use in the bathroom, equal parts vinegar and water. You may want to use a different essential oil and don’t use on marble, granite or stone worktops as they don’t like vinegar. You can use bicarb and water but be careful not to scratch the worktop.
To descale your kettle fill it a quarter of the way up with vinegar and leave to soak for an hour or two. Top up with water, boil and then rinse.
To make your fridge smell wonderful and get rid of any lingering smells, cut a lemon in half and place it in the fridge, you’ll be amazed. You’ll need to change it once a week.
To clean the oven just warm it up then spray your wonder spray of vinegar and water on it and scrub with a cloth and a little added salt or bicarb will help to shift stubborn stains.
To clean the floor just add one-part vinegar to 2 parts water and use a mop to wash and dry, again you can add some essential oils to make it smell wonderful.
Add half a cup of white wine vinegar to the final rinse or conditioner dispenser and you’ll have soft fluffy clothes. If you want to give it a slight scent add one or two drops of essential oil to the vinegar, but not too much.
You can make scented bags to pop into your dryer to give your laundry a fresh outdoor scent. Use some muslin and tie a few woody stemmed herbs up in such as Lavender or Rosemary, you can also add a drop or two of essential oils. But again, not too much as they can actually be flammable so it’s best to add the bag at the end of the dryer session when it switches to the cool cycle.
Clean your windows with scrunched up newspaper (make sure it is petroleum-based ink – see above) and your vinegar spray (50% vinegar and 50% water). If they’re really grubby give them a wash with Castile soap (100% plant-based soap) and water beforehand.
5. Bootroom / Cloakroom
With all those smelly shoes, trainers, football boots etc it can be a bit smelly. Don’t despair just add a sprinkle of bicarb into the offending shoes and leave overnight, shake out in the morning and it will keep them lovely and fresh.
Let's start Cleaning
Happy cleaning, hope you find some of these useful and I’m sure there are lots more ways that we can use Natural Cleaning products around the home.
I’d love to hear about your favourites.