One issue that many people have when it comes to cleaning and natural cleaning products is the issue of germs. Can you really sanitize toilets and food preparation surfaces (or, if you’re carpet cleaning, the place where the dog misbehaved) using natural cleaners? Actually, yes you can. A number of natural ingredients have been known as germ-killers for a very long time. Not all of them can be used for every single cleaning job, but you should find something that suits what you’re doing.
Boiling water: The simplest germ-killer of them all. Small items (heat proof, obviously!) can be dropped into a pot of boiling water. Alternatively, you can pour boiling water over larger items, assuming that (a) you’re not going to ruin it by getting it hot and wet, (b) you won’t scald yourself.
Boiling water is good for cleaning cutlery and crockery, especially if they have been used by someone who’s ill.
Use this for cleaning the bathroom or other damp areas that are prone to mould and mildew.
1 cup hot water
5 drops thyme essential oil
1/8 cup borax
Shake together in a spray bottle. You don’t have to allow it to cool before using. Alternatively, you can replace the thyme essential oil with the same amount of tea tree oil, or with four drops of pine essential oil and two drops of cedar oil.
This can be used for cleaning toilets inside and out. Actually, contrary to what many people believe, it isn’t the bowl of the toilet that is favoured by germs. You flush fresh water through the bowl umpteen times a day (with or without a tank hippo), don’t you? However, the seat and (worse still) behind the seat is where they get.
4 cups water
½ cup soap gel, preferably made from castile soap
2 tablespoons tea tree essential oil
20 drops essential oil of peppermint, lavender, pine or eucalyptus
Shake together in a spray-top container and leave for a while to let the oils work thoroughly into the water and soap. Spray wherever you need it. An old toothbrush is great for cleaning lavatories around the hinges of the lid and other tricky places – so handy that old toothbrushes are often part of a professional cleaner’s toolkit.
Vinegar is one of the non-poisonous germ killers, which is why it is used as a natural preservative in things like pickles. Vinegar can be used neat to clean up mould, as the acid breaks down the spores.
Common salt is another edible germ-killer. Usually, salt is used more as an anti-bacterial mouthwash or for washing wounds (ouch!). But it can also be used as an antibacterial scouring powder, assuming that you have grains of salt that aren’t too large. A very strong solution of salt can be used to soak fabric items that have something revolting on them. Those living near the coast can use sea water.
Methylated spirits, surgical (rubbing) alcohol, vodka or whisky (etc):
Any strong alcohol is a disinfectant and can be sprayed or wiped onto most surfaces. It evaporates off easily without leaving any residue, so it is useful for cleaning windows or glass.