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Keep your space spick-and-span with these tried-and-tested eco-friendly cleaning solutions.
The Fruitful Five
Mixing these versatile natural ingredients with water is really all it takes to make your own cleaning products. The combinations create top-notch, totally effective solutions that will clean your home from top to bottom without using a single synthetic chemical.
1. White Vinegar
The acidity of plain white vinegar removes grease, deodorizes and dissolves limescale without damaging surfaces. Look for basic white vinegar and add a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil. Special cleaning vinegar is also available, with a higher price tag, but plain is just as effective.
2. Sodium Bicarbonate
Good old baking soda is great for absorbing odours—you may even already keep some in your fridge for that very purpose. This multi-purpose powder is very versatile, and can replace commercial scouring pastes and powders.
Citrus fruits give a fresh scent to many cleaning products, but a lemon, for example, can also be used as a household cleanser on its own. In fact, it's just as effective as vinegar for cleaning, reviving, polishing and deodorizing floors, appliances and most surfaces in your home. Leftover cut lemons can be popped in the freezer for later use. A couple of minutes to thaw is all that's needed.
4. Vegetable-based Soaps
We love natural vegetable-based soaps because they’re not harmful to the environment and are great for DIY solutions. Grate the bars yourself or purchase the soap in flakes and use for things like hand- washing delicate linens.
5. Essential Oils
Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts. They clean, add fragrance and can also be antiseptic. Tea tree, eucalyptus and lavender are great for home cleaning because of their antifungal and anti-bacterial properties, but remember to check all essential oils for contraindications before use. (Some popular extracts can be too potent to be used around small children and pets.)
Six Useful Recipes
These easy-to-create cleaning solutions can last up to a month.
1. All-Purpose Cleaner (Disinfectant and Deodorizer)
1 cup white vinegar + 4 cups hot water + 2 tbsp sodium bicarbonate
2. Window Cleaner
1 part white vinegar + 1 part water
1 cup white vinegar + 1 cup hot water + juice of 1/2 lemon + a couple drops lemon or lavender oil
4. Dish Detergent
1/2 cup water + 1 tbsp white vinegar + 1/2 cup vegetable soap + 20 drops lemon oil
This solution foams only slightly, but it works—whether or not a product creates a frothy foam has nothing to do with its ability to clean.
5. Wood Polish
1 cup olive oil + juice of 1/2 lemon
Mix the ingredients in a clean spray bottle. Spray on surfaces and wipe with a soft cloth.
6. Oven Cleaner
2 parts sifted sodium bicarbonate + 1 part water + 1 cup white vinegar
Mix baking soda and water to make a paste; spread over the surfaces of the oven, inside and out. Let sit for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. Spray with vinegar and clean off all residue with a warm damp cloth.