If you’ve never tried making your own cleaning products for everyday round-the-house work, give these a go. The fanciest ingredient that gets used is essential oil – which you can easily pick up at a chemist’s shop or a health food store, or even at flea markets – and won’t sent you on a search for diatomaceous earth, glycerine or washing soda. Instead, these household cleaner recipes use everyday ingredients that you probably already have in your cupboards.
Hardware needed: a spray dispenser. Either buy something meant as a plant mister, or rinse out and reuse a bottle that formerly contained a commercial cleaning spray.
-2 parts plain white vinegar (let’s say 400 ml)
-1 part ordinary tap water (200 ml)
-20+ drops essential oil of tea tree or lavender
Put the liquids in the bottle and shake well to combine. This super spray can be used for all sorts of cleaning jobs. It’s great for cleaning mirrors and cleaning glass, removing fly spots, wiping down kitchen benches, disinfecting the toilet seat and as an air freshener. Leave out the water (i.e. just use the vinegar and essential oil) and you can use it as a fabric softener.
Hardware: a kettle and a plastic container (something recycled like a 1-litre yoghurt tub is great). If saving soap scraps, a plastic mesh bag is handy.
-Soap, any sort, either grated, chopped up or in little pieces too small to use for washing hands and faces
-Essential oil (optional) –again, any sort will do
Fill the kettle with the water and boil the water. Chop up or grate the soap and put in the plastic container. Pour the boiling water over the soap scraps, stir and leave for a few hours. The soap will melt, combine with the water and create a slimy goo. If you save soap scraps, collect the scraps in a plastic mesh bag (the sort oranges are often sold in) and keep this permanently in the container. The bag help you strain out the lumps from the gel, and you just pour in boiling water when the container has more unmelted scraps than goo.
Soap slime can be used for washing floors, especially tiles, vinyl or lino, washing the paintwork of cars, cleaning toilet bowls, spot-cleaning carpets, cleaning toys cleaning rugs and for handwashing woollens. It can also be used as liquid soap, if put into an appropriate pump dispenser, and as shampoo. Add some food colouring (not too much) and you have something that’s perfect for a preschool messy play day – slimy, squishy, stringy and messy, but washes out like a charm.
The Old Sailor’s Brass Polish
Hardware: a saucer or small pottle and at least two rags, one (or more) damp with fresh water.
-half a cup of salt
-enough white vinegar to make a paste (less than you think – salt dissolves readily)
Mix the salt and vinegar to make a paste. Apply the paste to the brass, bronze or copper to be cleaned, and coat whatever it is thoroughly. Leave the paste on for at least five minutes. Scrub as much paste off with the dry rag, giving the brass or whatever a good rub as you take it off. Clean off any residue with the damp rag(s). This worked a treat to clean a brass candelabra that had been neglected for years (tarnish, dust, fly spots…) and left it gleaming like gold. The paste can also be used as a marinade for meat, as a disinfectant for open wounds (stings like heck, but works) and as an addition to the bath for deep cleaning.