Natural household cleaning is one area that I think is a real “hidden secret”. If you think about the amount of products we use to clean, the chemicals involved are staggering. Cleaning with pre-mixed chemical based shop products can be harsh on the skin and lungs, decreases air quality, can be bad for the environment, are almost always provided in plastic and are expensive too. I have pets and a baby and so I do worry about the chemicals I’m using as well as trying very hard to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, but at the same time I want a clean and fresh smelling home and I don’t want to spend hours on my knees scrubbing away at stains either! Who has time for that!
It takes a bit of getting used to, but there are many natural ways using household ingredients of cleaning that are as efficient – or more! – than buying chemical mixes. These are the processes that our grandparents and great grandparents would have used, and these were stopped using not because they weren’t effective, but because the modern lifestyle of buying everything from the supermarket and just giving the counter top a few squirts became the most convenient. We have become a wee bit brainwashed by advertising as well and so it’s become more normal to buy a chemical product off the shelf.
But it’s easy to switch back and there are definite benefits, so why not give it a go?
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing – you can start by picking one or two things from this list to switch out your cleaning products for and see how you get on. I’m all about small changes that fit into our lives but at the same time improve both our own experiences, and make a difference to the world. Like cutting down on plastic usage, this is a way that can make a difference on a personal and larger scale.
How to replace cleaning products with natural solutions
Natural Air Freshener and Deodorizers
You don’t have to buy chemical sprays and deodorizers. I used to think that because I have a dog and 2 cats, I’d need some heavy duty cleaners. I don’t want my house to smell like cat poop (or baby poop!). You can use white vinegar in a small bowl for just an hour or two and it will refresh the room and get rid of any bad odours. Vinegar is also purchased in glass bottles, which cuts down on that plastic usage!
Solution: White Vinegar
Natural options for Deep Cleaning Carpets
I have bought a lot of powdered products in the past to pop into the carpet and then vacuum. However, bicarbonate of soda for an hour and then vacuumed up will give you just as good a clean. If you’re missing the smell of the carpet cleaner, you can pop a sprig of lavender, citrus rinds, or your favourite aromatherapy oil in your bicarb of soda jar and it takes on the smell.
Solution: Bicarbonate of Soda
Natural methods for Polishing Furniture
To get a really good shine on furniture without having to buy polish, mix a teaspoon of olive oil with a few drops of white vinegar. Dip your washable cloth into it very lightly – you only need a tiny bit of the mix at a time.
Solution: Olive Oil + White Vinegar
Natural ways to clean Ceramic tiles, Counter Tops, Glasses and Descale
You can get your ceramics and glass sparkling clean with one part white vinegar, one part water. You can also descale your kettle with the same mix or run your sterilizer – you really don’t have to buy special descaling packets of chemicals! Just pop the half and half mix in, run the kettle or sterilizer, allow it to cool and rinse.
If you’re worried about the time it takes to mix and apply every time, you can buy glass spray bottles (you can also buy plastic but we’d like to avoid that where possible) and just once a week or longer mix your cleaning solution (which takes 2 minutes), and then you can quickly spray it on and wipe when you’re doing a clean.
Solution: White Vinegar + Water
Natural ways to Clean Brass or Copper
Cleaning brass is actually surprisingly simple. I have a few brass pieces from my grandmother and although most people don’t have a house filled with brass these days, you may have some pieces or fixtures and fittings that are brass or even copper you need to clean. Mix lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda to clean brass, or mix lemon juice and salt to clean copper.
Solution: Lemon Juice + Bicarbonate of Soda (Brass) or Lemon Juice + Salt (Copper)
Traditional ways to clean Serious Stains
Borax is also known as sodium borate. It’s toxic and you should handle it with rubber gloves on and keep it well out of the way of any pets or children. It’s also an incredibly effective solution for serious stains. Mix 1 part borax to 8 parts water and it will remove blood, urine, coffee, mold and mildew, wine, chocolate stains and so on. You don’t need to go out and buy special mixes with 62 chemical compounds in them with a price to reflect it. Borax is cheap, simple and effective. Just be sure to store it well away from any little fingers.
A Natural alternative to Fabric Softener
You don’t have to use a shop-bought fabric softener. Mix 1 part white vinegar with 2 parts water. Add around 50 – 80 ml (that’s 1/4 to 1/3rd of a cup who prefer that measurement, you weirdo) to your rinse cycle or softener tray if your washing machine separates it for you.
Solution: White Vinegar + Water
When you realize how well these old natural remedies do actually clean the house, it makes you wonder why we need a cleaning aisle in the supermarket that contains hundreds of products. Like most things in life, it comes down to money and advertising. Companies have to make it seem like their product is the best at what it does, so that you buy it – it’s that simple. Over time we’ve forgotten that these alternatives existed and for people like me, who have grown up using chemical products on a daily basis, shifting back to a more natural cleaning regime seemed quite unnatural, but I think you’ll be surprised if you try these out at how effective they are and how much money you can save just by having a few household staples in the cupboard and knowing how to use them. I certainly was!