Winter is an important time to keep everything in the home clean and to prevent the spread of germs, bacteria and viruses. More and more people want to use plants and natural ingredients to clean themselves and their homes – the old fashioned methods and accessories are often the best.
Detoxifying your detergent cupboard is just as important for your health and well being as using natural skincare – studies have shown that harsh cleaning chemicals can cause harm to the skin, respiratory system and the endocrine system.
Here is a list of natural ingredients and products that I use in my home to get it ready and safe for the season.
Natural ingredients and accessories for effective cleaning
Hot water and soap remove pathogens like microbes, germs and viruses from your hands, clothes and surfaces because they dissolve the fat membranes, or lipids, that hold the latter together.
Vinegar and lemon juice – acetic and citric acids are useful for all manner of stain, mould and dirt removal as well as being powerful limescale removers and window cleaners. Spray vinegar into an empty washing machine and dishwasher, making sure you aim at all the seals, filters and crevices, and leave overnight. The next day run a hot, empty cycle to ensure that the machine and filters stay clean.
Rosemary, bay and sage - naturally antibacterial and antimicrobial, rosemary, bay and sage infused in a bottle of vinegar create an effective sanitiser.
Lemon, lavender, tea tree essential oils - naturally antibacterial and fragrant.
Hot water and biodegradable washing up liquid – for washing down all surfaces including walls, floors, sinks, tables and doors.
Bicarbonate of soda – when mixed with lemon juice or vinegar it makes an effective de-stainer and chopping board cleaner. When mixed with salt it's a tough scrubbing agent to clean cookers, ovens, roasting pans and grills.
Table salt – sodium chloride is a reliable disinfectant for sinks and chopping boards because it removes oxygen and moisture.
Plant oils – oils such as olive, almond, flax and hemp make very good wood and leather polishes.
Beeswax – natural beeswax is a safe and reliable product for polishing wood and leather.
Linen cloths - for drying and cleaning. To wash cloths we soak them overnight in hot water and our own soap flakes – eco household soap bars that we have grated to make laundry cleaner. Washing soda is also a good natural alternative cleanser for laundry and as a bleach substitute you can buy eco-bleach, made with sodium percarbonate which uses oxygen for destaining and deodorizing.
Brushes – scrub dirt away. Wash them in hot water, soap and leave to dry in sunlight. UV rays kill bacteria.
Natural cleaning spray
This is a useful recipe for an all-round homemade cleaning spray which can be used on most surfaces (except marble and granite). It is antibacterial and can also be used in a bucket of hot water to clean floors, tiles and bathrooms.
Ingredients to make 1 litre natural cleaning spray
Strained juice of 1 lemon
500 ml of white distilled cleaning vinegar
10 drops of rosemary, lemon, lavender or tea tree essential oil
1 teaspoon fine table salt
A drop or two of ecological washing up liquid
400 ml of tap water
Mix all the above ingredients in a jug. Pour into a sterile spray bottle and label.
Use on a damp cloth to wipe down all surfaces.