10 home-made eco-friendly cleaning products
One of the best ways we can help to protect our lovely planet is to reduce the amount of chemicals and packaging we consume. If this sounds too difficult, remember that every journey starts with taking just one step. Simply put, change just one thing: the things you use to clean your house. If you make your own cleaning products using everyday household goods, not only will you reduce the number of chemicals entering our waterways but the packaging that goes to landfill.
1. Bicarb cleaner
I love bicarb soda and the great thing is that you can buy it in recyclable cardboard boxes. You can make a great general cleaning spray by mixing one teaspoon of bicarb, one teaspoon of pure soap flakes (also comes in cardboard boxes), a squeeze of lemon or dash of white vinegar and one cup of water in a jar. (Put those old Vegemite jars to good use.) Put the lid on and shake it until the soap flakes dissolve then pour the mix into a spray bottle. Spray it on and wipe off with a kitchen sponge.
2. Vinegar cleaner
No, the house won’t stink, I promise! Vinegar is a mild acid that neutralises grease and soap residue. Combine two cups of white vinegar, one cup of water and 25 drops of eucalyptus oil in a spray bottle. Shake well, spray onto a soft damp cloth and rub onto sinks, timber surfaces and plastic finishes such as fridge shelves and telephones.
3. Lavender disinfectant
Add 25 drops of lavender essential oil to two tablespoons of methylated spirits or vodka in a clean dry bottle. Leave it for 24 hours then add 500ml of distilled water. Pour it into a spray bottle, shake thoroughly and use it to keep bathroom surfaces safe and smelling sweet. It’s also great to spray on bed linen during ironing. (If you have that much energy!)
4. Lemon juice bleach
This is a great natural bleach (and not just for hair). It disinfects and inhibits the growth of mould and even removes stubborn mildew stains from shower curtains. Just rub the area with lemon juice and allow it to dry in the sun.
5. Salt disinfectant
If you’ve ever been to the beach with even a tiny graze, you’ll have felt the sting of the salt water as it goes to work, killing any germs that may be present. So why not apply those germ-killing qualities to wipe down kitchen and bathroom surfaces, especially when you mix it with vinegar. Mixed into a paste with just a little water it makes a handy abrasive too.
6. Tea tree and eucalyptus oil surface wipe
Tea tree oil is a natural disinfectant and soothing balm. (Ask anyone who’s ever had a lip wax!) Eucalyptus oil is a great natural stain remover. (When was the last time you saw a koala with stained fur?) Add a few drops of either of these oils to hot water and you’ve got a strong smelling disinfectant surface wipe. I also find it fabulous for mopping timber floors.
7. Soap and borax cleaner
When it comes to green cleaning, borax is one of the tough guys on the block! But remember that just because a product is natural, that doesn’t mean it’s harmless. This mineral salt is poisonous if swallowed, so don’t leave it lying around where the kids can find it. That said, it’s a fabulous cleaner. Mix two teaspoons of borax with one heaped teaspoon of natural soap flakes and three cups of water. Store it in an airtight spray bottle and use it to clean benchtops and other surfaces. Make sure it’s well labelled!
8. Lemon cream cleanser
When you think essential oils, lemon doesn’t spring immediately to mind. But it’s great stuff that leaves a fresh, tangy smell around the house. Squirt phosphate-free liquid detergent into half a cup of bicarb until it forms a soft paste. Add one teaspoon of vegetable glycerine and several drops of lemon essential oil. Use it as a slightly abrasive cleaner for baths, sinks, basins, benches and cooktops. Apply it with a damp sponge then rinse off.
9. Vinegar glass cleaner
Dilute half a cup of vinegar in two litres of water, then spray it onto glass, mirrors and tiles for a streak-free finish.
10. Salt and vinegar soap scum remover
Great on fish and chips. Better on shower screen. Mix two parts salt with one part vinegar. Rub the mixture on with a cloth, then rinse off and allow to dry.