It is getting colder outside so staying at home gets more and more attractive – especially when your cosy home is freshly cleaned. However, did you ever think about which cleaning agents to use? Are they actually good for you?
In fact, most of the common cleaning products contain harmful substances or even toxic chemicals that are definitely not healthy. I do not know if you did ever notice, but after cleaning with commercial products, I always felt really thirsty and my throat was sometimes scratching. This was a main reason why I wanted to change my cleaning habits.
Furthermore, most of the cleaning products on the market are far from being eco-friendly. This is not only about some dubious ingredients. This topic comes along with the question of waste. Commercial products often lead to huge amounts of packaging that are just not necessary.
Let’s try to produce less waste by rethinking our daily choices. By the way, this comes along with saving money that you would have spent for expensive advertised products. You do not need to change all of your cleaning habits in one day – just try one of these recipes and you will feel the difference with natural, homemade cleaning products that are actually good for you and for the planet. If you want to, you can start with one change a week. It is a great feeling to create something with your own hands. You just need to start somewhere.
Vinegar makes a great all-purpose household cleaner. It acts disinfecting and dissolves limescale. Regular vinegar has 5% acidity – you can also use it for cooking.
Bicarbonate of soda / Baking soda (Natron) is a natural raising agent for baking. But it is also an all-rounder that neutralises smell and dissolves limescale.
Baking powder has a different composition. It is partially made of bicarbonate of soda to which is added some acidifier, most of the time citric acid. So if you only have baking powder on hand, you can occasionally use it as a substitute for bicarbonate of soda in these recipes.
Essential oils are amazing and have many uses, not only in cleaning products. However, they are highly concentrated so be aware of their power and use them mindfully. They are not absolutely necessary to the recipes, but they add a nice smell and have disinfecting properties. They also act on body and mind. Here are my favourites.
- Lavender – anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, calming, harmonising
- Mint – anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, stimulating, freshening
- Sweet Orange – anti-bacterial, mood-lifting, relaxing
- Lemon – anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, mood-lifting, vitalising
- Tea Tree – anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, stimulating
These cleaning products are all natural; nonetheless they should not get into your eyes or your mouth. I recommend wearing gloves while using them to protect your skin.
If you can, you should purchase the ingredients in big quantities so that you produce least waste. You can find larger packings of bicarbonate of soda in some shops or on the Internet.
- 125 ml vinegar
- 125 ml water
- 2 drops essential oil
Mix all of the ingredients and fill into a clean spray bottle. Shake well before every use. To use, spray on surfaces and wipe with a soft cloth or towel. You can use this cleaner for every surface except from granite. For some greasy cases soap can be necessary. You can adjust the amount of vinegar and water according to the size of your spray bottle.
Clean your sink
- 30g bicarbonate of soda
- 2-3 tbsp vinegar
- 3 drops essential oil
Close the drain. Put the bicarbonate of soda, then the vinegar and the essential oil in the sink. Simply dip the sponge into the mixture and clean the sink. Rinse with clear, warm water. You can use the all-purpose cleaner as a follow up rinse, as it eliminates any powdery residue left behind, or simply dry with a soft cloth or towel.
Clean your oven
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1-2 tbsp water
Mix all of the ingredients together in a little bowl. With a sponge, a wet cloth or towel, spread the mixture out in the cold oven. Do not touch the heaters. Close the oven door and let sit for about 20 min. Wipe out with a wet cloth or towel so that all of the mixture remains are gone.
As an alternative, you can spread out some salt and bicarbonate of soda at the bottom of the oven. Sprinkle with some water. Close the oven and heat at 70°C for 10 min. The mixture will start to steam. Turn off the oven and let cool down. Wipe out with clear water.
Note: To avoid a dirty oven, put a piece of aluminium foil at the bottom of your oven and just leave it there. You can replace it every half a year and it will prevent anything from dripping at the oven bottom.
Clean your fridge
Wipe out the empty fridge with a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar. Dry with a clean soft cloth or towel.
Note: If your fridge smells, you can put a little bowl with 50 gram of bicarbonate of soda at one of the back corners at the middle section of the fridge. If the smell is really strong, add a second one. You should change the bowl once a month, but you can reuse the bicarbonate of soda for a drain cleaning, for example.
Clean a burnt pot or pan
- 3 tbsp vinegar
- 600 ml water
Fill the kitchen pot or pan with approximately 600ml of water and 3 tbsp of vinegar. Bring to a boil. The burnt leftovers should come off by themselves, but you can help yourself with a wooden spoon.
Disinfect a sponge
- boiling water, dishwasher or microwave
Put the home-used sponge into boiling water for 5 minutes.
As an alternative, put the sponge into the utensil compartment of your dishwasher. Load the dishwasher as usual and run it using the hottest cycle possible. Allow the sponge to remain for the entire wash and dry cycle.
As another option, put the wet sponge into the microwave for 1-2 minutes. You need to saturate it with water so that it can not catch fire. Keep an eye on it. Look out for a burst of steam when you open the microwave door, and let the sponge cool before you remove it – it will be very hot. Never microwave a sponge containing metal!
Clear a blocked drain
- 45 g bicarbonate of soda
- 75 ml vinegar
- 1 l hot water
Put the bicarbonate of soda into the drain. Directly afterwards pour the vinegar in. Let sit for about 30 minutes, then pour the water in.
Note: With this recipe, you should be able to open a normally blocked drain. However, you can use a little less bicarbonate of soda regularly as a prevention in your entire household. To open a strongly blocked drain or pipe, you can increase the amount of bicarbonate of soda and repeat if necessary.
Enjoy your freshly cleaned home!
Credits: Illustrations & Visuals by Linda Dieschbourg.