Chemical free or Green cleaning is becoming more and more popular as people are becoming more aware of the health risks some common household cleaners can pose.? Whilst there is much talk, study and speculation on the effects of some commonly used cleaners – such as eczema, asthma, allergies and behaviour problems – I would like to leave the specific health problems aside and focus on the methods of green cleaning, give you some easy recipes and show you how a few simple changes can hopefully optimise your home environment. If you are concerned about a particular chemical or health problem the information can be found on the web, in your library or by talking to a natural health care worker.
Reasons to consider changing your cleaning habits
I have called this article green cleaning as it details methods of using common, inexpensive ingredients that are also biodegradable and low toxic. Not only are they effective but they are also much better for the environment, create less pollution from packaging and are also better for our health and the health of those in our homes.
I have became more observant of my cleaning practises since starting our family, having little babies around the house with their delicate skin is a strong reminder of what I was using around the home. I have discovered many ways to trade my caustic, chemical and over fragranced cleaners for things I already had in my pantry. Dont think these are new ideas, many green cleaning methods were common practise before ads appeared on TV depicting germ laden homes and miracle cures! Many of these recipes are stolen from my Grandmothers.
Just by adding a few drops of essential oils to my cleaning I have a house that smells lovely and undernath all the family mess I know its clean and chemical free…alright, chemical free anyway.
Your basic cleaning kit:
Bicarb Soda (sodium bicarbonate)
Borax (use caution, is caustic so use gloves)
Essential oils (including Eucalyptus oil & Tea tree oil as a minimum)
Newspaper or Microfiber cloths
**You dont need to buy brand name products, get the economy size no-name vinegar and bicarb**
White vinegar, being acidic, neutralises grease and oil making them easy to clean up. A spray bottle with half tap water, half vinegar is a great household spray for bench tops in the kitchen and bathroom, cupboards, windowsills, floor spills. Vinegar also gives stainless steel a lovely shine. Dont worry about the vinegar smell, once it dries the smell will go. A few drops of essential oil or an essential oil blend can be added to your vinegar and water spray to make it more powerful and to leave a lovely smell.
Bicarb is very multi-purpose and can be used for both cleaning and deodorising. Make a bicarb and water paste to remove tough spills and stains from surfaces including stove tops. This paste, when used with steel wool, can be used to clean BBQs and very thick soap scum from showers. A tub of bicarb in the fridge will remove funky odours. To clean jars and bottles well, and remove any lingering smells, put a splash of vinegar in the jar and sprinkle in some bicarb (best do this in a sink, if you can recall making volcanos in primary school you may recall the combination of vinegar and bicarb can have an impressive reaction)
Borax is a powerful stain remover and can often be used in place of bleach. Although it is a naturally occurring mineral salt it is caustic so use caution when mixing and keep away from kids and pets. You can soak whites in water with dissolved borax in it, use borax and bicarb paste with tea tree oil to scrub a mouldy shower and grout.
A brilliant recipe to clean a feral oven is:
1/4 cup borax
1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup bicarb
5 drops rosemary essential oil
5 drops lime essential oil
Dissolve borax in hot water then add bicarb and oils. Use a sponge to wipe over walls of oven. Leave for as long as possible (do as I do and put on before going on holiday- not many people have ovens that clean themselves whilst their owners are in France). Wipe clean with a fresh damp cloth. When confident all paste is removed give the inside of oven a spray with the vinegar/water mix to ensure no Bicarb is left.
Lemons will remove stains from white clothing (dab on stain, dry in sun, repeat until the stain is gone)
Salt will absorb any liquid, including red wine in carpet, so it is very useful to have handy when spills and stains occur. Like bicarb it is also very abrasive. Dip the cut side of half a lemon in salt and use to scrub grout in between tiles, the fiddly area around taps etc. This salted lemon is also good for polishing brass!
Soda water, which is really carbonated water, is invaluable to have on hand to remove carpet stains as they occur. Keep a few cheap bottles in the pantry and pour on a spill as soon as it happens. The bubbling action will carry the stain to the surface for easier cleaning.
Other beneficial essential oils:
On top of the basic two essential oils listed above there are a huge variety of beneficial oils that can be used around the house. Please note, all oils with a # along side, should be avoided when pregnant.
Around the house:
Windows- Eucalyptus oil and old newspaper. There is something about the paper and the ink that really cleans glass well. This will take a fair bit of elbow grease but youll get a shine that no other cleaning method can beat.
Kitchen- Vinegar/water spray, straight vinegar for stainless steel, borax for blocked drains and tile grout. Eucalptus added to the vinegar/water spray with a drop of detergent is great for those oily splashs and baked on stove grime.
Bathroom- Make a paste with bicarb and water and scrub onto tiles with a scourer or sponge depending on dirt. Rinse off then spray with vinegar/water spray. Tea tree oil wiped on dry tiles will stop mildew, mould and bacteria.
Floors- add a few drops of essential oil to a bowl of bicarb soda then sift onto carpets or rugs in a fine layer. Leave overnight and vacuum.
-for sparkling hardwood floors mop with cold tea (black-no milk or sugar) or just throw a few tea bags into a bucket hot water as you go.
-For shiny tiles, mop floor with half vinegar and half boiled water with some essential oils and a drop of detergent.
Ingredients for green cleaning are available through my online store
Essential oils, blends and a fantastic little recipe book called essentially clean are all available there and I offer flat rate postage ($6.50) to all customers.