Written by: Jenny Smith
Before super powerful Hoovers and supermarket sprays like Vanish were invented, our grandmothers cleaned their homes in a much simpler way. They were used to making things last by mending and repairing and were generally living with sooty fires and cooking ranges that made their homes a lot dirtier that they are today. Elbow grease was an important ingredient and meant that they didn’t need to go to the gym or to aerobics classes to get strong and fit!
Chemical in cleaning
In the recent years there has been a huge increase in the availability of cleaning products but now people are recognising that using chemicals in our homes is both a threat to our health and the environment so there is a growing move away from synthetics and back towards products and cleaning tips that were popular in our Grandparents time.
Just about every natural cleaning product uses the same basic ingredients; some of them are not completely safe and need to be stored away from children and pets but overall they are much less toxic than many of the products on sale today.
A good natural start up cleaning kit would include the following: baking soda, borax, white vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, castile soap and washing soda.
White vinegar and lemon juice disinfect and respectively cut through dirt and grease, borax also disinfects and at the same time whitens and deodorises, baking soda gives you a gritty scrubber and castile soap and washing soda are both cleaners, respectively foaming and caustic.
There are lots of recipes online for different rooms in the house and it’s also a case of experimenting to find out what works for you. The following suggestions are a good place to start from and you can adapt them as you go.
In the kitchen make up your own spray cleaner by putting one tablespoon of washing soda into warm water, this is great for all the surfaces and the draining board.
Similarly, baking soda or vinegar will clean your sink and if you’ve burnt the pans. Wet the burnt area and throw a good handful of bicarbonate of soda over it. Let it soak overnight and you should be able to wipe the burnt spot off the next day. This works well when you’ve burnt the oven too!
If you use wooden chopping boards, rub half a lemon over them every so often to disinfect them and free them of odours.
If you have wooden floors try a slosh of vinegar in a gallon of hot water and for wood surfaces or furniture try a cup of vinegar with a teaspoon of oil.
For ensuring that your drains stay unblocked, buy a strainer to collect most of the bits that could go down and if you cook oily food pour boiling hot water down the sink hole every week to flush the fats down.
To unclog a blockage try a couple of ounces of baking soda followed by the same amount of white vinegar and then cover the drain hole to let the foaming pressure do its work.
To clean windows or mirrors, make up a mix of one part vinegar and eight parts water and wipe on with a cloth and then buff dry thoroughly with newspapers.
In the bathroom
Baking soda and vinegar are great for scrubbing toilets clean and borax is very popular as a tile and bathtub cleaner. To eradicate musty or stale smells in any part of your house, put some bicarbonate of soda mixed with a generous splash of white vinegar or lemon juice in small bowls and place them around the room.