Instead of looking in the cleaning products aisle for powders, liquids, sprays and pastes to get your home clean, hygienic, smelling nice and looking shiny, why not look in your pantry or kitchen cupboards? Making your own natural home cleaning products is an excellent way to reduce the amount of toxins in your household environment (some proprietary cleaners are really nasty), which is good for the environment, your skin and your health. And natural house cleaning products are often cheaper, too!
Most natural cleaning products use a range of basic ingredients combined in different ways – these are must-haves on your shopping list, and not just because you can scrub up your house with them. Some of them you can eat. Essential oils are other common ingredients listed in recipes for natural cleaners. While these are often included for their pleasant scent, they also have disinfectant and antiseptic properties. Recipes often list specific essential oils, but feel free to mix and match as you need – often, one fresh-smelling essential oil with antiseptic properties (e.g. pine or lemon) can be substituted for another (lavender or eucalyptus).
Natural cleaning products often call for soap or soap flakes. If you can't find pure soap flakes in your supermarket, you can make your own by grating a bar of cheap soap with as little extra this and that (e.g. fragrance) as possible – or even try making your own. Alternatively, you can try the penny-pinching method of saving thin slivers of bar soap and melting or grating these to make your own cleaning products.
Some basic recipes:
General cleaning paste (non-scratching):
* 1 cup soap flakes
* 2 cups powdered chalk or diatomaceous earth (try a sports shop – chalk is used by gymnasts and diatomaceous earth is used in swimming pool filters)
* 1 cup bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
* 6 T glycerine.
Pulverise the soap flakes to powder in a blender or with a pestle and mortar. Mix in the baking soda and chalk, then add in the glycerine to make a thick paste. It won't look pretty, but it does a great job. Store in a wide screw-top jar to keep it from drying out.
* 1 cup vinegar
* 1 cup methylated spirits, isopropyl alcohol or strong spirits (e.g. vodka)
* 1 t lavender essential oil
Pour all ingredients into a pump-action spray dispenser. Shake together for a minute or so. This can be used straight away, or it can be left to sit for a week to allow the essential oil to blend thoroughly with the alcohol and vinegar. Spray onto glass and wipe off with a soft lint-free cloth or scrunched up newspaper. The essential oil will help kill mould spores and germs. This mixture can also be used as a disinfectant, as the essential oil and alcohol are strong germ-killers.
Odour-absorbing fridge cleaner:
* 1 cup baking soda
* 10 drops essential oil of your choice (suggested: lemon or grapefruit)
* water to mix
Combine the baking soda and the essential oil. Add enough water to make a stiff paste. Rub on with a soft cloth, then rinse off with a clean, damp cloth.
* 1 cup ordinary table salt
* vinegar to mix
Combine the salt with enough vinegar to make a stiff paste. Coat the brass with the paste, then leave it to work for about five minutes. Rub off with a soft damp cloth, using a little elbow grease as needed.
* 1 cup vinegar
* 10 drops essential oil (optional)
Combine the vinegar and essential oil and shake together well. Add to the final rinse. This mixture not only adds a delicate scent to the washing as well as softening the fabric.
Lavender is a traditional scent for adding to laundry and acts as a moth repellent. This recipe will help prevent nappy rash if added to a load of cloth nappies, as the vinegar neutralises the rash-causing ammonia in urine.
Pre-wash soaking treatment
* 2 cups soap flakes
* ½ cup glycerine
* 2 t essential oil of eucalyptus (in this recipe, you cannot substitute this for another type, as eucalyptus oil has stain-removing properties)
* hot water (about 1 ½ litres)
Add the glycerine and soap flakes to the hot water and stir together. When it cools, it will form a grey-white translucent gel. Add the essential oil once the mixture has cooled. Store in a screw-top jar or bottle. To use, add about half a cupful to a bucket of lukewarm water (not hot) and soak stained items overnight. Alternatively, rub a tablespoon or so into the stained area and leave it to work for about an hour before washing the item.