YOUR KITCHEN cupboards probably contain everything you need to create your own eco-friendly cleaning products – so you can make your home sparkle without using harsh chemicals.
If you have lemons, bicarbonate of soda (also known as bread soda or baking soda or bicarb), and vinegar, then you can tackle, bacteria, grime, grease, stains and even nasty smells!
You can even put olive oil to good use if you have favourite wooden furniture that requires a gentle touch.
Distilled white vinegar has long been used for its anti-bacterial properties. Available in all supermarkets, vinegar is said to kill 99% of bacteria and 80% of viruses, without harming the environment. It’s use as a cleaning agent is believed to date back to ancient Babylonia or before 5000BC – pretty impressive!
Bicarbonate of soda, which I’m going to call bicarb, dates back to the ancient Egyptians, who used a sodium compound they called Natron to keep mummified remains free from harmful bacteria. They discovered that it was also good for making soap when mixed with olive oil and were even the first to use it for cleaning teeth.
Meanwhile, lemons, which were first cultivated in Asia around 2,500 years ago, have a high acidity that has led to them being used for cleaning over millennia.
If you end up using any of the tips we’ve blogged about then you deserve a refreshing reward so here’s the recipe we use for homemade lemonade! It will help you cool down after using all that elbow grease!
eco-friendly cleaning tips
Kitchen and bathroom spray – Find a new use for an old plastic spray bottle by adding one third of vinegar to two thirds water. For an extra kick, you can also add the juice of half a lemon (all pulpy bits taken out to prevent the nozzle from clogging). If you really want a spray that packs a punch, you could include a tablespoon or two of bicarb. This spray is particularly good for making taps and sinks shine!
Limescale – Vinegar makes for an excellent weapon against limescale – fill your kettle with it and leave for as long as possible, preferably several hours. You’ll find the limescale gone and the inside of your kettle will look like new. You can get rid of the vinegar smell by just boiling a full kettle of water and discarding down the sink. But DON’T just throw away the vinegar – I tend to pour it into the toilet where it can continue its de-scaling work.
Hob and Oven cleaning paste – You can make a very effective oven cleaner, minus the harmful fumes, and toxic substances contained in shop-bought products, by simply making a paste with bicarb and water. Just scrape off as much gunk as you can before spreading your paste inside the sides and bottom of a cold oven. Preferably leave it overnight, before wiping down with a cloth and hot water the following day. I tend to add a dash of vinegar to the paste mix to give it a little extra oomph.
Similarly, the paste can be spread over your hob and left to work. Please be patient. Somebody I once told about this method later complained that it hadn’t worked for her – she’d wiped it off immediately rather than leaving it to work. When you feel the paste ready to come off, just use a cloth and hot water or your usual hop scrubber.
Shower – This paste is also great for cleaning your shower – just use a cloth/scrubber to spread it over the glass and tiles, leave for a little while, and rinse off. A toothbrush can be used to remove stubborn stains between tiles.
Fridge – Keep your fridge smelling lovely by storing half a lemon in there, or get rid of nasty smells by leaving a cup of bicarb inside it.
Windows and mirrors – To give glass surfaces an extra sparkle add a dash of vinegar to your rinse water before wiping dry with a soft cloth (scrunched-up newspapers are also good for drying glass surfaces without leaving marks).
Clean the loo while you’re away – If you’re heading off for a break, or even just the day, then fling a handful of bicarb into the loo and when you return it will have self-cleaned. Bicarb also helps promote useful bacteria in septic tanks so you’re giving the system a tonic!
If you want a speedy loo clean, then sprinkle your bicarb around the toilet bowl, give a quick spritz with vinegar (I’ve heard that white wine vinegar can be good for this), followed by a hardy scrub with a toilet brush.
Plugholes and drains – A useful way to give plugholes and drains a clean is to pop in some bicarb and add vinegar, don’t be alarmed when it fizzes, then leave for a while before pouring in plenty of boiling hot water.
You can also pour the juice of an entire lemon mixed in a glass of water down your plugs and drains to freshen them up and prevent smells.
Furniture – Make your own furniture polish by either adding one part vinegar to three parts olive oil or you can mix two parts olive oil to one part lemon juice (well-strained). We use the lemon/olive oil mix and it really does work – old sports socks are also very good for polishing.
There’s a wealth of information out there for ways to cut down on the number of environmentally-harmful cleaning products you have in your home by replacing them with food items you may already have in stock.
I’ve just written about ways we’ve used homemade cleaning solutions in our own home, but for more tips on lemons just click here.
If you fancy having a go at using vinegar as a cleaner check out here. And if you want to try out more uses for bicarbonate of soda all you have to do is single click here.
I would love to hear from anyone who has other advice that could be handy for my family or others. If you want to get in touch or follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter click here to visit my blog.
Happy green cleaning!!