Spring Cleaning the Natural Way
With a lot of us spending most of our days at home making our living space clean and tidy may be more appealing than ever, and is a sure fire way to lift the spirits and give a sense of satisfaction.
Why you may not want to use traditional cleaning products
Many traditional cleaning products are bad for the environment and bad for us. They will ultimately end up polluting our water ways and their packaging ends up in land fill. They may also have a negative effect on health. For example, anti-bacterial products, such as those containing triclosan, may contribute to the development of antibiotic resistant bugs and have a detrimental effect on the immune system. Many fragranced products contain chemicals that disrupt the hormonal system. They have been dubbed ‘slow poisons’ as the negative consequences of using them regularly are as yet unknown (1).
If you don’t want to fill your home with noxious chemicals now is the time to start making your own cleaning products that can be tailored to your own needs. By doing so you’ll be saving money, saving the environment and protecting your own health.
Ingredients for making your own cleaning products
• Bicarbonate of soda – buy in bulk on line or in chemists rather than using the small pots from the baking section of the supermarket.
• Soda crystals or borax
• White vinegar
• Lemon juice
• Essential oils – eg: tea tree oil, lavender oil, eucalyptus oil, pine oil and lemon oil. Many essential oils have anti-microbial properties. Essential oils should not be used on plastic or painted or varnished surfaces as they may damage them.
• Castile soap – vegetable oil-based soap eg: Dr Bronners
• Soapnuts – are a natural detergent grown in India. They produce mild soap suds when in contact with water, and can be used as a shampoo or soap alternative.
• Jars and spray bottles – you may be able to re-use spray bottles and jars from previously bought products.
• Cleaning cloths – microfibre cloths can clean surfaces just using water. They can be washed and re-used many times. Special microfibre cloths are available for cleaning windows and mirrors, ovens and bathrooms.
Here are some tips for how to clean your home without risking your family’s health or that of the planet:
• Dishwasher Liquid
1/2 cup liquid castile soap
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 drops tea tree oil
Stir the water and soap together. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until blended. Transfer into a bottle for storage. Use 2 tablespoons per load.
• General Purpose Cleaner – to clean tiles, mirrors, windows and bathroom and kitchen surfaces combine 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup bicarbonate of soda with 2 litres water. Add a few drops of essential oil if you wish. Decant into a spray bottle ready for use.
• Carpet Stain Remover – Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle and apply to stain. After soaking for several minutes clean with a brush or sponge off with warm, soapy water.
• Pan cleaner – to get pots and pans clean if they have got stained or burnt put 2 tbsp of baking soda into the pan with 1 pint of water. Bring to the boil then leave to soak. Once the water is cool enough, scrub off the stains with a scouring pad.
• Furniture polish – mix one part olive oil with one part vinegar. Apply to wooden furniture using a soft cloth. Test a small area first.
• Windows and mirrors – mix together ¼ cup of vinegar and 2 pints of water in a spray bottle. Spritz onto the glass and wipe off with a soft cloth. Add a few drops of washing up liquid if the windows are really dirty. Alternatively, use a micro fibre glass cleaning cloth with water.
• Blocked sink – put ½ cup of soda crystals or borax down the plug hole. Follow this with ½ cup of vinegar. Let it fizz for a while then pour a kettle full of boiling water down the sink to clear the debris.
• Kitchen and bathroom – sprinkle baking soda onto the sink, toilet, tiles, bath and shower and scrub off with a damp cloth or sponge. Lemon juice can also be used in this way.
• Laundry – to improve the function of your washing machine put ½ cup of soda crystals into the washing machine drum with the clothes and use half the usual amount of washing powder. This is better for the clothes, the washing machine and the environment!
• Copper and brass polish – use lemon juice on a soft cloth to bring back the shine.
• Air freshener – put a few drops of your favourite essential oil and some water into an oil burner. Light the candle below to release the aromas. Alternatively, put a small bowl of water with a few drops of essential oil on a radiator.
See also blog post on Anti-viral Help Mates for information on herbs, essential oils and other agents with anti-viral properties. The blog post Sprouting Goodness explains how to up your nutrient intake by growing your own sprouts.
1. Med Hypotheses. 2017 May;102:106-111. Fragrance compounds: The wolves in sheep’s clothings. Patel S