Many articles about natural cleaning products tell you all about the consumable product that actually does the cleaning – the vinegar, the baking soda, the borax, the soap, etc. However, when you get onto cleaning –whether you use and make your own natural products, whether you use commercial cleaners, or whether you use a mixture of both – you’ll need more than just the cleaning product itself.
For a start, for home-made cleaners, you will need containers. If you are using salt or vinegar or baking soda “straight” then the packet you bought it in is probably good enough. But if you have to mix stuff up, you’ll need something to keep the mixed product in. This is especially true of natural home cleaners containing essential oils, as these need time to mellow and blend, and essential oils should not be anywhere near the vinegar that goes on your fish and chips or your salad. You do not always have to run out and buy special containers. People who like cleaning using natural methods tend to be an environmentally conscious lot, so it’s good to know that most, if not all, the containers you need are probably already in your home holding jam or something. Good items to save as containers include:
* Screw-top jars, either glass or plastic.
* Ice cream containers and large yoghurt pottles with airtight lids
* Spray bottles (if you’re switching from commercial to home-made cleaners, save those pump-spray bottles, but rinse them very well first).
You can also use an ordinary plate or bowl if you’re mixing up a small amount to use on the spot just once, e.g. a salt and vinegar paste for cleaning copper and brass.
Next, you’ll need lots of cloths for wiping things on and rinsing things off. You can use paper towels – you won’t be saving the rainforest by not using them; most paper products come from sustainably managed forests – but you’ll need an awful lot of them and this can get expensive. Better to use cleaning rags, as they’re re-usable. You do not have to buy cleaning rags, either. Any old, soft fabric item that’s falling to bits can be turned into a cleaning rag. Old sheets, towels and tea towels are fantastic. So are cotton nappies once the baby is no longer a baby, old T-shirts, odd socks and ancient underpants. Avoid using anything with a scratchy zip, anything with buttons (cut them off and save them for when someone loses a button), anything denim (too harsh) and anything made of a fancy super-duper synthetic sports fabric that doesn’t hold moisture.
You can also buy cloths for cleaning. Enjo (microfibre) cloths spring to mind first up, but others worth considering are natural sponges (for cleaning stains off carpets) and natural chamois leather (for cars and a few other things).
You will also need scrubbing brushes. Get several:
* A tough bristled brush for really hard jobs
* A softer bristled brush for something that needs a good scrub but might get scratched
* An old toothbrush or three for getting into tricky places.
* A bottle brush.
* A toilet brush. Some people hate using toilet brushes on the grounds that they are unhygienic. Personally, the idea of reaching down inside a toilet bowl with a cleaning rag is repulsive (my rubber gloves don’t reach up past the elbow and the idea that toilet=germs=hands off is very deeply ingrained), and the toilet brush won’t be all that bad if you keep it bristle-down in some sort of disinfectant when not in use.
You will also need the usual cleaning tools: buckets (lots of these), brooms, mops, vacuum cleaners and feather dusters. However, rubber gloves will be not used as often, as natural cleaning products are gentler on the skin. Don’t ditch the gloves, though. You will still need them for when you clean up something revolting or have to use strong soap.