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We purchase numerous products on a regular basis out of sheer convenience and due to their ease-of-use. For products such as household cleaners we are also told via extremely expensive marketing campaigns that nothing will be as effective on dirt or that we need them to protect us (and our loved ones) from bacteria. In fact, some marketing campaigns use blatant scare tactics in the hope that if we fear the common household bacteria, dust mite or germ enough we’ll use every single one of their products to turn our home into a super-sanitised zone.
What these companies fail to tell us is that their products are also killing the environment as well as ourselves. These cleaners are some of the most environmentally damaging products on the market at the moment, as well as being seriously detrimental to our health, and while most detergents are now biodegradable, some still contain unnatural chemicals including known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors (affecting hormones and causing behavior, development, growth and reproduction problems), and/or neurotoxins. Furthermore, each time a new product is purchased we consume yet more plastic.
The best way to clean the home is using natural and non-toxic DIY alternatives. No chemicals. No fumes. No harm. In order to get started, there are a few economical and multi-use ingredients that you’ll want to have to hand:
Baking Soda (Bicarbonate of Soda): baking soda is a natural deodorizer that can keep fridges and floors (if scattered onto carpet before vacuuming) smelling fresh. It is also a gentle abrasive and can be used to brighten and clean almost all surfaces, either as a paste or if sprinkled onto stubborn sticky surfaces and allowed to “set” before rinsing.
Borax (Sodium Borate): borax is effective in disinfecting bathroom and kitchen surfaces, as well as removing stains if mixed with a small amount of liquid soap to form a paste and rubbed onto the affected area before washing in the machine.
Hydrogen Peroxide: hydrogen peroxide is non-toxic and safe (even in a home with children and/or companion animals) with a lot of cleaning power.
Lemon Juice: the juice of a lemon is effective in cleaning grease and mould (or mildew) and can also be combined with other ingredients such as oil or vinegar to improve cleaning power whilst leaving everything smelling fresh!
(White) Vinegar: vinegar is tough on grease, limescale and soap scum due to its slightly acidic properties, and gentle enough to use on wood flooring. The simplest vinegar mixture is made from half (½) cup of vinegar and water in either a bucket or spray bottle but it can be used undiluted for tough dirt, grease or stains.
Castile Soap – Dr. Bronner’s bar and liquid soap is excellent
Essential Oils – great for cleaning power and fragrance (e.g. eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, rosemary, tea tree or thyme – all of which are antibacterial and antiseptic)
1. All-Purpose Cleaner: for an all-purpose cleaner which can be used to clean taps, the table, or toilet, mix two (2) cups of water with one (1) cup of hydrogen peroxide and quarter (¼) cup of lemon juice. Store in a spray bottle and use everywhere!
2. Laundry Detergent: to create a detergent that will clean clothes without polluting the water supply, grate one (1) bar of Castile soap and mix it with one (1) cup of borax and one (1) cup of baking soda. Use one (1) tablespoon per load. Store in an airtight container.
3. Bath, Shower and Sink Scrub: an all-purpose scrub that will remove the toughest of bathroom grime, gradually add half (½) cup of Castile liquid soap into one (1) cup of baking soda until the mixture begins to thicken. Store in an airtight container.
4. Glass or Mirror Cleaner: mix quarter (¼) cup of vinegar with four (4) cups of warm water. Store in a spray bottle and use to clean glass or mirrors with a dry soft cloth.
5. Toilet Bowl Cleaner: without the acid green or neon blue colour, this cleaner will get the job done; mix quarter (¼) cup baking soda or borax with one (1) cup of vinegar. Pour around the toilet bowl, leave for a minimum of 15 minutes, scrub and flush.
6. Sink (or Stove) Cleaner: to clean the sink, stove or oven, mix third (⅓) cup of baking soda with enough warm water to make a paste. Use the paste with a brush or sponge to scrub.
7. Drain/Sink Cleaner: when the pipes from the bathroom or kitchen become blocked, pour half (½) cup of baking soda into the drain/sink, followed by one (1) cup of vinegar. Leave for a minimum of 15 minutes (or even overnight) and rinse with hot water.
8. Floor Sanitiser: in a bucket, mix half (½) cup of borax with two (2) gallons of HOT water.
9. Rust Remover: for small items soak in vinegar overnight; for large(r) items, cut a potato in half and dip the middle of the potato into baking soda. Scrub! Once worn down, cut the top layer of the potato off and re-dip in baking soda to continue, if needed.
10. Wood Furniture Cleaner: for a simple cleaner and polisher that will leave a fresh scent in the air, mix two (2) cups of olive oil with one (1) cup of lemon juice or vinegar. Store in a spray bottle and use to clean and polish with a dry soft cloth.
- none of the recipes list essential oils as it is best to add at your own discretion. Establish what scent you want your bathroom, kitchen or laundry to smell of and add 5-10 drops of the chosen essential oil(s) – more if a stronger scent is desired.
- save containers and spray bottles from old cleaning products to re-use for the new DIY alternatives. Ensure all containers have been cleaned to remove any residue and use a permanent marker to write clearly what it contains.