It’s common belief that to keep a clean house you have to buy specially manufactured, chemical, cleaning products. This is false – and harmful to our health. The chemicals most frequently used in disinfectants pose a serious risk to your family members (both two-legged and four-legged) and to the environment. Let’s explore a few natural homemade options to keep your house gleaming from ceiling to floor – without nasty chemicals!
It’s easy to get sucked in by all those cheerfully coloured packages stacked neatly on the shelves at the supermarket. But the big problem with all those mass-manufactured cleaning products is their ingredients. Their main ingredients are based on synthetics and petrochemicals, so they’re hugely harmful to health. Breathing them into our lungs can cause allergic reactions due to their toxicity.
A disease that develops quite commonly in those who regularly clean – whether it’s tidying at home or as a paid job – is eczema. It can affect the fingers, hands, arms and other extremities. Skin allergies can occur, as well…as can respiratory disorders and hypersensitivities. The culprit is regular exposure to these products without using protective gear such as gloves and masks.
The effect of these products on the environment is even worse. Millions of tonnes of detergents end up in the water supply via rivers and seas, which has a very negative impact on the environment. The more quickly the product claims to work, the higher the chemical content. Of course, this means that it’s more toxic, too. When handling such cleaners, caution is key – and it’s even more important to be careful if you share your home with pets or children.
Vinegar is your friend
Want to keep a clean house using homemade or natural products? The first thing you need in your bag of tricks is vinegar! It is essential for any kitchen cupboard and produces marvellous results. Not only does it leave sparkling surfaces in its wake, but it disinfectants, degreases, removes stains and unpleasant odours, wipes out bacteria, eliminates rust, cleans kettles and removes stains from carpets and rugs. What more could you ask for? Here are a few ways to use vinegar at home:
- Clean inside your refrigerator with vinegar, focussing on any rusted areas. Leave the vinegar to sit for 20 minutes, then rinse with warm water.
- Mix 1/4 cup of vinegar with 4 cups of water for cleaning glass, windows and mirrors. If you use newspaper to remove the vinegar, your surfaces will shine like never before.
- Mix 1/4 cup of vinegar with 4 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of baking soda. This blend is perfect for cleaning any surface that requires that little bit extra. If you have an accumulation of soap scum round the edges of your bath, for instance, this mix will make it vanish.
- Put a splash of white vinegar in your washing machine to eradicate odours from clothing and remove mould or dirt residue. The vinegar also helps to eliminate static. During the last wash cycle (once the laundry liquid has been completely rinsed out), add the vinegar.
- Use a spongeful of vinegar to remove soap residue or stains from tiles or the bathtub.
- A splash of vinegar in a bucket of water will remove the unpleasant smell of cigarette smoke. Just let the clothing soak for a while, then wash and dry as usual.
- Mix a bit of salt with vinegar and use it to wash the kettle or the coffee pot. Let it sit for a bit and rinse thoroughly with water.
- Put vinegar on your hands after you’ve chopped onion or garlic. Rinse off the excess vinegar and – voila! – no more smelly hands.
- Wash glass jars with vinegar if you plan to reuse them to make chutneys or jams. Simply leave them to soak for a few minutes, add a bit of vinegar to the water and rinse.
Baking soda and other unsung heroes
Baking soda is another indispensable item for your household cleaning kit. It works wonders when used alongside with vinegar. Best of all, it’s safe to use round all family members and is much, much safer than its chemical counterparts. Cheap and easy to find at your local supermarket, you’ll find yourself turning to it again and again. Here are several ways to use baking soda:
- Baking soda is a gently effective way to clean the bath and bathroom tiles. It won’t harm or scratch the enamel. Just sprinkle a bit onto a wet sponge and thoroughly wash the surfaces. Ensure that you rinse and dry everything well. Want even more dazzling results? Make a paste with some baking soda, salt, and water.
- Clean up your cutlery and cookware. Put the items you want to clean in your kitchen sink and cover with water. Add two tablespoons of baking soda and let everything soak. After about 30-60 minutes, everything will be much easier to clean. Food will no longer be stuck to plates, pots or pans.
- Shine up your silver. Using 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water, make a paste. Rub each bit of silverware with a dry rag. Rinse and dry everything thoroughly.
- Shake a bit of bicarb inside the oven. Sprinkle with just enough water to wet it and let stand overnight. Scrub and remove with a sponge.
- Freshen up the floor by adding half a cup of baking soda to a bucket of warm water. Mop as you normally would and you behold the miraculous shine it leaves behind. Bonus points: no marks or streaks.
- Simultaneously deodorise and clean shower curtains. Sprinkle baking soda directly onto the curtain and use a brush to scrub off limescale. Rinse well and leave to dry.
Bicarbonate of soda is also exemplary at deodorising rooms and objects. For instance, a little tub of baking soda left on the top shelf of your refrigerator will eliminate strong smells. You can use it on cutting boards (dust with baking soda, let stand and rinse), rubbish bins (sprinkle and leave in the bottom of the receptacle), plugholes (use half a cup of baking soda per plughole and add warm water), carpets (spread evenly over carpet, leave overnight, then sweep and vacuum), cupboards and wardrobes (same directions as for your refrigerator), cars (sprinkle on seats and floormats), slippers and dirty clothing. For especially smelly, sweaty or damp clothing, add half a cup of baking soda to the wash.