Be Natural

Cleaning detergents and products very often contain an array of chemicals, which can be harmful to the environment and to you. They take longer to biodegrade and are therefore quite toxic. The healthy and safe alternative is to use traditional, ‘grandmother’ recipies based on products that can be easily found around the house. These include: vinegar, lemon, bicarbonate of sodium, salt, milk, black soap or lavender, essential oils and even incense.

 White vinegar mixed with water makes a great natural cleaner for windows, mirrors and glasses. Buff them with crumpled newspaper for a sparkling finish and give them a final wipe with a dry cotton cloth. Vinegar will also get rid of tough greasy marks on your cooker or oven. It is a good descaling agent for shower nozzles: Leave the nozzle in a basin full of vinegary hot water and after a while the limescale deposit will dissolve. If you spill coffee on a rug or carpet, put a tissue on the stain to absorb it. Then dab the stain with an equal mix of cold water and white vinegar. Rinse finally with cold water only.

Still life with lemons by Auguste Renoir

Lemon juice will help to get rid of fruit stains on clothes,  tablecloths and napkins. It cleans silver jewellery pretty efficiently also. Rub the flesh of half a lemon over the limescale deposits on taps and then rinse with water to get a shining finish.

Sodium bicarbonate or bread soda is a natural deodoriser: sprinkle some on rugs and carpets before hoovering.  If your kitchen sink, your teapot or mugs are tea-stained, cover the stain with a mix of two or three teaspoonful of bread soda per litre of water and leave to soak for a couple of hours, the stain will be removed without difficulty. If the bottom of your pots and pans are burnt, again cover it with a mix of bread soda and water and leave to soak. You might need to repeat the process until the burnt patches disappear.

Rock salt will revive the colours on a rug. Sprinkle it on the rug and hoover after an hour. Again if soot or ashes have accidentaly dropped onto a carpet or rug, cover the area with rock salt and leave it for a couple of hours then hoover it up. Leaving a bowl of rock salt in a quite humid room will absorb the humidity.

The milkmaid by Vermeer

Boiling milk will efficiently get rid of wine or fruit stains, even old ones, on material.  Warm milk is a good natural cleaner on wooden furniture. Prior to applying the milk, rub the piece of furniture with a cork , taken from a wine bottle- going with the grain of the wood. Once the milk has dried out, buff the piece of furniture with a beeswax polish.

Black soap is an olive oil-based liquid soap that has a great texture and is brilliant for cleaning tough greasy stains. It will restore shine to tiled floors.

A.M Ruggeri-Pano

Lavender sachets left in wardrobes and drawers are great deterrents against mites and will gently perfume linens and clothes. Essential oils such as lavender and tea tree have natural antibacterial and disinfectant properties.  Incense is a pleasant alternative to chemical spray.

A constant flow of cool fresh air is essential in all the rooms so that they are always fresh. Open the windows every day for ten to twenty minutes to renew the air. Houseplants will also improve the quality of the air in the rooms as they release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide during the day. They are also natural humidifiers, especially in a dry atmosphere.

For commercial eco-friendly detergents, I would recommend Lilly’s Ecoclean products:  the all-purpose citrus spray cleaner can be used to clean your mirror and window panes, the inside of your fridge, oven and microwave. It cleans perfectly well all surfaces including tiles, granite and stainless steel. The vinegar and tea-tree oil-based toilet cleaner is an effective product and is not harmful to septic tanks.

Ecover has promoted the use of eco-friendly products since 1980. This Belgian company pioneered and produced a laundry powder containing no phosphates before anyone realized how harmful they were. Their household products don’t have phosphates, enzymes or bleach, making them absolutely safe to use around the house. The camomille and marigold washing-up liquid cleans and degreases all tableware very efficiently. The dishwasher tablets and rinse aid work perfectly while the bio washing powder has a gentle smell and works brilliantly on whites and colourfast clothes. The floor soap has a linseed oil base and caters well for all type of flooring.

If you have any grandmothers’ cleaning recipies or tips on uses of natural products around the house, please leave a comment.

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