Cleaning, deodorising, disinfecting, and removing stains don’t have to be an expensive, boring process. With a few household items and a bit of elbow grease, you can clean just about anything in your home for a fraction of the cost. Plus, it’s an eco-friendly choice for green living.
We’re not saying get rid of all your current products and start anew, but every time something in your cupboard runs out consider replacing it with a more conscious alternative for so many detergents are full of harsh, synthetic chemicals that seep into our ecosystems affecting more than just the surfaces they directly come in contact with.
My advice is to take it slowly and change one thing at a time – Jen Chillingsworth author of the book ‘Clean Green: Tips and Recipes for a naturally clean, more sustainable home‘ says-. It’s useful to see how a recipe performs for you before changing anything else. Think about habits that you could change to become more sustainable. Try running a shorter programme on the washing machine or filling the kitchen sink only half full before you wash the dishes. Changing the way you shop is also a good way to be more sustainable. Look for stores that offer refillable green cleaning products, where you can take your own containers. Make this part of your shopping routine instead of relying on grocery stores.
Your DIY green allies
Here is a list of common, environmentally safe ingredients that you can use alone or in combination for a spotless clean. The vast majority of housework can be tackled with nothing more than vinegar, baking soda, soap, and water. But before you start, make you sure to get well organised.
Make a list of all the tasks you need to complete in your home. Then decide how frequently these tasks need to be completed – Jen Chillingsworth explains-. Make it easier for yourself: is there a time of day or specific day that will work better for you? It may be 15 minutes in the evening or before you go out in the morning. Once you’ve worked out what needs to be done, split the tasks up into the days of the week that work best for you.
Bicarbonate of soda
Baking soda has been used for over a century as a way to deodorise, clean and scour away dirt. You can easily use this alone to clean sinks, toilets, baths, ovens, fridges and surfaces to remove dirt and stains. For soft furnishings, sprinkle onto the area and leave for a few hours then, suction up using the appropriate nozzle on your vacuum cleaner. To clean the refrigerator simply add about ½ cup of the white stuff to a bucket of hot water. Dip a clean rag in the mixture and use it to wipe down the fridge’s insides.
Distilled white vinegar is one of the most versatile, affordable, and accessible cleaning products that you can find. Its cleaning capabilities include glass, floors, bathrooms, dishes, fabrics, stains, and more. You can use white vinegar in its pure form or diluted with water or baking soda for more natural cleaning. It is good for removing limescale on kettles: just fill the kettle with a solution of one-part water to one-part white vinegar and leave overnight. In the morning, the limescale will come off easily. To remove carpet stains, simply mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray directly on the stain, let sit for several minutes, and clean with a brush or sponge using warm soapy water.
Citrus juice is a natural bleaching agent. A very strong acid, that helps to fight against bacteria, remove stains and keep your whites white. Use it to remove stains and reduce bacteria from chopping boards by rubbing with fresh lemon and leave overnight. You can also toss a halved lemon in your garbage disposal to keep it smelling fresh or use the juice in preparations to clean discoloured utensils.
Another excellent home cleaning ingredient. Use salt to clean cast iron, as an ingredient in homemade dishwasher soap, or combined with lime to remove rust. It will also boost the cleaning effects of other ingredients, such as vinegar or bicarbonate of soda when combined together. To clean sink drains, use salt mixed with hot water down the kitchen sink regularly to deodorise and keep grease from building up.
Borax is probably one of the most unique ingredients on this list but can be found at many natural cleaning stores. Although natural, it is recommended that you avoid eye contact and undiluted skin contact with it, as well as ingestion of it. Most of the recipes that use borax use it in a diluted form which makes it a very usable natural cleaning ingredient. Borax will whiten your whites, soften hard water, help remove stains, and deodorize your wash. You can also use it to get rid of roaches, water bugs, and ants. Just sprinkle equal parts of borax and sugar anywhere you suspect they may be entering your home.
One of the most versatile products you can buy, castile soap can be used as an all-purpose cleaner all-around your home. From laundry detergent to dish soap, hand soap, floor cleaner and even shampoo, castile soap has got you covered. It typically contains no fragrance so it’s a gentle solution for sensitive skin. You can use it also dishwasher detergent: simply mix together 1 cup of liquid castile soap and 1 cup of water (2 teaspoons of lemon juice optional) in a quart-size glass jar. Add some of this mixture to one detergent compartment of the dishwasher, and fill the other compartment with white vinegar.
For green cleaning, I always tend to choose liquid castile soap as it is the easiest and more convenient option to use in recipes – Jen Chillingsworth says-. The solid bar does come in handy as a stain removal tool as you can simply rub the stain with the bar to help remove it prior to washing
More than just healthy dressing. It’s also a cleaning tool that can nourish surfaces and loosen stains, grease, and grime on all sorts of surfaces. Olive oil can repair scratches, restore colour, and add lustre to worn-out leather seats (as well as shoes and other leather items). Just dab a little onto a soft cloth and gently rub it in. Olive oil can condition wood, too. Try mixing it with lemon juice (one part juice to two parts oil) to rub it over cabinets as well as wooden tables and chairs. If your cast iron skillet has stuck-on food and you don’t have any lemons around, you can make a scrub using coarse salt and olive oil to remove debris and keep the skillet’s surface seasoned, too.
Naturally anti-bacterial, essential oils not only help to sanitise your house (they can be mixed with water and or vinegar for an easy household cleaner) but keep it smelling great too. Some of the best to go for are lavender, tea tree and lemon. Eucalyptus oil has a minty fresh smell which is perfect for combating stale odours (you can also diffuse it for a stimulating and rejuvenating boost during the day); lavender is a laundry booster and a carpet refresher; Tea Tree makes a great natural cleaning ingredient due to its highly anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
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