Eco-friendly House Cleaning Delivers Excellent Results Too
One rule you should always stick by when doing the house cleaning naturally is to use as few store-bought cleaning detergents as possible. It is better and healthier for you, your family, and your home to use natural cleaning methods. Many chemical-based products can be hazardous if they remain in your home environment. Here are a few natural cleaning tips for cleaning specific items in the household.
Coffee pot natural cleaning – pour vinegar in a coffee pot and swish it around. You can use a brush or sponge – whichever works better. If you want intensive cleaning, try the overnight method. Fill the coffee pot halfway with ice, then pour in the vinegar, and add a few slices of lemon on top. Let the mixture sit for the night. In the morning, dump out the contents and enjoy your freshly deodorized and sanitized coffee pot! It allows you to make coffee with a clean taste and no acidity, which is what builds up in the coffee pot and causes the bitter taste.
You can naturally clean pots with food burns by applying a small amount of baking soda. Dip a sponge in warm water and scrub the pot until the stain is gone. If the pot is made from stainless steel, steel wool or a steel thread pad is best for this type of job.
Stainless steel sinks can be cleaned with white vinegar, which will keep them shiny. Pouring a little vinegar down the garbage disposal will freshen that as well.
Remove rust from your stainless steel sink by pouring lemon juice on a wash cloth, adding cream of tartar, and scrubbing the sink with the mixture. The cream of tartar works as an abrasive, while the lemon juice neutralizes the rust.
A non-stainless steel sink can be washed with baking soda on a damp sponge. To make your sink shinier, pour club soda on a wash cloth and rub the sink. Always thoroughly dry the sink.
To clean wood floors (hard floor cleaning), brew two bags of tea in hot water. Once they have cooled to room temperature, mop your wood floors with the tea. Regular black tea works best, don’t waste your flavoured tea on this job!
You can clean silverware with white toothpaste (not gel). Use a wash cloth to clean the piece of silver, then rinse and dry thoroughly to avoid rust. If you need the additional scrub, an old toothbrush comes in handy.
How To Clean Metal With Natural Methods
Cleaning gold – you can clean gold the same way as you clean your teeth: with toothpaste and a soft toothbrush, followed by rinsing. The only difference is that you will then dry the gold item off with a soft cloth. The method works wonderfully for rings.
Cleaning pewter – some people like the darker look of old, slightly tarnished pewter. If you want to clean yours and get it looking a little shinier, then one old tip for cleaning pewter is to rub it with a wet cabbage leaf. Alternatively, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in a cup of vinegar, then make a paste by adding flour (plus essential oil, if you like). Rub on (wear gloves – pewter contains lead and you don’t want to risk getting this into your system) and then rinse off thoroughly.
Cleaning chrome – you must keep grease away from chrome at all costs! Never employ abrasives – instead, you can apply a natural cleaning product: clean chrome by spraying it with diluted vinegar, then buffing it dry with a soft cloth. It works for cars as well as cleaning chrome around the house.
Cleaning copper – one of the oddest suggestions for cleaning the copper bottoms of saucepans (or any copper that you want bright and shining rather than gathering a patina of verdigris) is to mix tomato sauce (tomato ketchup) and cream of tartar (about ¼ cup sauce to 1 tablespoon cream of tartar). Coat the copper in question with the mixture and stand overnight before rinsing off with soapy water, then with fresh water and drying.
Cleaning brass – to shine your brass to perfection, make a paste of salt and vinegar. Coat the brass item with this paste, then leave it to sit on the metal for about five minutes. Then rub the paste off with a damp cloth and dry thoroughly. You may need several damp cloths for this cleaning job.
Cleaning cast iron – water is the enemy of cast iron, so if you wash cast iron to remove dirt (e.g. washing a cast iron skillet or frying pan after use), then dry it very thoroughly as soon as possible. After drying, “season” the cast iron by rubbing it lightly with vegetable oil. Do not store cast iron pans with the lids on, as the lids will trap moisture, promoting rust. Hang the pan up, if possible.
Eco-friendly Laundry Tips
We do the laundry a lot more often than we used to. Today, it’s not unheard of for people to pop two shirts into the wash a day (one from work and one from the gym). In the past, people wore things for longer so there wasn’t as much for the laundry maid to do. “Washday” came once a week, usually on Mondays when there was cold Sunday roast leftover, and nobody had to cook much so they could concentrate on the nightmare job of doing the laundry.
But just because you’ve got a modern washing machine with a wool cycle, a hot cycle, and enough lights for a very small Christmas tree don’t mean that you have to use fancy modern wonder ingredients to get your clothes clean. Do yourself and the environment a favour and use natural laundry products to wash clothes like your grandmother (or great-grandmother) used to.
If you must use commercial washing powder (and I have to admit that I do – in a hard water area, using liquid soap in the machine on a cold cycle tends to clog the pipes and valves) you can get away with using less than the manufacturer tells you to use on the side of the box. Let’s face it: who wrote the stuff on the side of the box? Who’s going to make more money if you go through three boxes of powder instead of two? Right. In practice, you can reduce the amount of soap powder per load to three-quarters what the manufacturers tell you to – or even half. You can also be kinder to the environment by using a brand (which, happily, is usually cheaper) that doesn’t have oodles of whiteners, brighteners, and fragrance. Thus you will pump less goodness-knows-what into the water system. And remember that washing clothes in commercial powder is still better than dry cleaning.
If you wash in hot water or if the water in your area isn’t hard (lucky you!), you may be able to get away with using liquid soap in your washing load. It doesn’t mean a commercial liquid soap. Instead, save soap scraps and pour boiling water over them to melt them down. Once the result has cooled to a gel, it can also be used for soaking grubby clothes as a pre-wash treatment, as general maid-of-all-work for cleaning floors, cleaning cars and spot-cleaning carpets. You can also use it as shampoo. You can also use soap flakes, which you can buy again, thankfully, if you don’t fancy grating a bar of soap.
If you are in a hard water area, you can still use soap flakes or soap gel to wash clothes, but you will have to add a water softener. Borax is the classic water softener used in many natural cleaning recipes.
Soap residues are responsible for making towels and blankets as stiff as cardboard. Thorough rinsing helps, as does drying in the open air. But to make sure things stay soft enough to rub on sensitive bits of your body, use vinegar as a fabric softener. Put about half a cup per load into wherever fabric softener is supposed to be put in your washing machine, or else add it to the final rinse.
Essential oils are also popular additions to natural laundry products. Some oils not only add a pleasant scent but also help remove stains and act as disinfectants. Eucalyptus oil makes a great stain remover and is the key ingredient in Sard Wonder Soap (if you can purchase some, it is fantastic for removing all sorts of stains). Tea tree and lavender oil are great antibacterial supplements.
Natural Ways To Remove Bad Smells At Home
While most people have five senses, all too often tips on how to do your house cleaning properly seem to consider only one of them – sight. But not too many consider smell, apart from where bad odours indicate poor hygiene and possible sources of germs). And a home that smells musty, damp or peculiar is unpleasant to live in.
Many proprietary products for scenting homes smell nasty and artificial, and many of them are downright toxic. The worst offenders are the plug-in scent dispensers that promise to bathe your home in delicate scent all day long – it would be just as true to say that they will emit a constant stream of toxins into your immediate environment. And they always smell just a bit cloying (or very cloying) and not quite as nice as the real thing. I, for example, have had the experience of having “morning” sickness during pregnancy triggered off by artificial house scents, while natural scents (including fresh sawdust) were deliciously refreshing.
It is much better for your health to fill your home with natural scents. Scenting your home has two main purposes. The first is to eliminate any unpleasant odours, and the second – to please the sense of smell with fragrance.
Natural ways to eliminate bad smells:
Open windows – fresh air (even in the city) prevents mustiness and damp smells and takes away the methane-based stink of toilets. Fresh air also smells somehow crisper than what goes through air conditioners. Country air is even better, and it often has a pleasant scent, unless you’re downwind from a pig farm.
Matches and candles: The old back country method of deodorizing a lavatory was to light a match because the small flame will burn the methane produced by… communing with nature. Unscented candles will also do the trick.
Regular housework: Unwashed clothes smell musty before long. Dust and dirt also get a characteristic smell. Burnt grub on a dirty stove stinks. Unscrubbed toilets pong. Clean regularly to eliminate these odour sources.
Eliminate other sources of bad smells: Basically, do not let pets sleep on the sofa or beanbag if you can help it. Also, it will be a good idea to quit smoking (at least indoors).
Natural ways to add pleasant smells:
Home cooking. Fried onions, bread, roasting meat, simmering soup, spicy muffins and even fresh curry smell delicious. Open the windows regularly to make sure that the smells don’t become stale, though.
Fresh flowers. These are a treat to the eye and a great way to express love and appreciation – to yourself, your family members, a Higher Power… Buy them or pick them as often as possible and place them in strategic locations. Look for highly scented blooms – freesias, daphne, lavender, honeysuckle, jasmine, etc. Other things can also be decorative and scented, such as fresh pine branches in winter, and citrus fruit.
Essential oils: These can be used in a range of ways to add a delicate scent to your home and disinfect the air at the same time. One of the simplest ways of using essential oils to scent your home is to dab a few drops onto a radiator or a cold light bulb (never put it on a hot light bulb). As the radiator or light bulb heats up, the fragrance of the oil will be released into your home.
Incense: While these can be a bit overpowering if overused, they can create a very distinct and fragrant atmosphere. Oriental scents (e.g. patchouli) tend to be sweeter and more soporific while Western incense (frankincense) tends to be sharper and more bracing. Frankincense can be bought from ecclesiastical suppliers, especially for “High” Catholic and Anglican churches where incense is still ritually used.
Pot pores. These blends of dried flowers, spices and herbs tend to be more subtle and will fade over time. To top up a pot pores blend, add a little essential oil and stir well. Place bowls of pot pores where they can be shaken, stirred and fiddled with easily, as movement releases the scent.
Eco-friendly Oven Cleaning
The top of a conventional oven is the easy bit. The best way to keep it clean is to wipe up spills as soon as they happen. The only “cleaning product” required is a bit of water. However, if you’ve spilt something right beside or onto a red-hot element, don’t try wiping it up straight away unless you want a nasty burn. It’s best to switch on the fan to remove the ghastly burnt smell and wait until the ring has cooled down before attempting any oven cleaning. If you have the sort of elements consisting of a coil with a sort of dish underneath, you will periodically have to clean beneath the element. It will be a lot easier to line the dish-type thing that usually sits in the cavity under the element with aluminium foil. It has the advantage of making the element more efficient: the aluminium will reflect the heat onto the bottom of the saucepan where you want it.
You can clean the rest of the oven top easily enough with the help of baking soda and a damp rag. If you have any burnt-on bits that are harder to remove, dousing them in water will soften them enough. Use baking soda a bit more liberally if you need to clean off grease splatters (who wouldn’t put a lid over the frying pan while frying bacon?!). Enjo cloths – the special green grease-removing ones – are excellent for this job, and shift stubborn old bits of grease that even baking soda won’t remove, such as the ones this writer had to deal with when cleaning up after her late and very slovenly grandmother.
You sometimes come across those stovetops that are flat and covered in a glass-cum-mica surface. It is theoretically easier to clean, but the manufacturers prefer you to use the “proper” commercial oven top cleaners and protectors, as well as a sort of scraper thing for removing burnt gunk. And it will start resembling the surface of the moon if you spill sugar onto it while making jam or toffee. If you’re stuck with one of these or if you like them, you can get away with using plain old water and/or an Enjo cloth instead of the fancy cleaning products.
The inside of a microwave oven is easier, and all you need to do is wipe it down with baking soda and a damp rag. The glass dish down the bottom can be removed and washed along with your dishes – in the sink or the dishwasher as you prefer. To clean off stubborn grime inside a microwave oven – and to make the inside smell nicer – put a bowl of water in the bottom of the microwave and drop half a lemon into it (or a slice of lemon, if you’re stingy like me). Zap the water for several minutes so the whole lot boils into steam. Keep the door shut and leave the steam to get to work loosening bits off. Then wipe down. Stingy people can leave out the lemon.
Smears on the outside of the microwave can easily be cleaned off with a bit of vinegar, which is great for getting the glass gleaming.
The inside of an oven is a hell-hole, and most people turn to those horrible chemical sprays when the time comes to clean inside the oven. However, it can be less of a hell-hole if you line the bottom with tin foil to catch splatters (remove and replace the foil when it gets grubby), and if you cook wisely and cover anything likely to drip, splatter, spit or fizz while inside the oven. And you can clean the rest with natural cleaning products. The first natural cleaning product to use is water – put a cake tin about one-third full of water in and turn the oven on high until the water boils away. Then you get out the baking soda. Put a paste of baking soda on the walls and bottom of the oven and leave it to sit for a bit before getting scrubbing. This method requires quite a lot of elbow grease and lots of cloths, so you can probably skip going to the gym on the oven-cleaning day. Enjo cloths also help.
The racks can be cleaned by smearing every rung with a paste of baking soda and water, then wrapping everything in tin foil. Dip the wrapped and pasted racks into a bath of warm water and leave them for about ten minutes. The aluminium and baking soda will react to remove the gunk.
Green Cleaning In The Bathroom
The bathroom is the place where the greatest amount of bacteria lurk, whether or not your toilet is located in the bathroom itself or elsewhere. It often looks the tackiest, what with soap and toothpaste smears everywhere, grey soap scum on the taps and rings around the bath. And it can be all too easy to succumb to the temptation to bring in the heavy cavalry in the form of hospital-grade disinfectants and powerful degreasing agents that promise to cut through all your bathroom gunk in a manner of seconds as well as killing every single germ around.
However, these super-duper commercial cleaners often leave you with headaches from nasty fumes, and itchy, dry or even cracked skin from the chemicals. Thankfully, natural domestic cleaners work just as well, if not better, to get your bathroom sparkling and clean – and hygienic.
Some of what gets smeared on bathroom taps and the top of vanity units is cleaning products: toothpaste and soap. All you need to do to remove them is to give it a good rub with a damp flannel or cloth, and it comes away easily and quickly. You can even squeeze out a little more toothpaste onto the taps and give them a good shining. The toothpaste just rinses off with a bit of water or another wipe with a damp cloth. If you clean your bathroom “little and often”, it can be all that you need to do to keep everything clean.
However, if it’s been a while since you cleaned the basin and if there’s grey scum in the bath, you’ll need a little more firepower. Have you ever noticed that many commercial cleaning products have the words “contains baking soda” emblazoned across their fronts? Well, baking soda is an extremely efficient natural cleaner that is perfect for scrubbing down bathroom surfaces. It won’t scratch either porcelain or taps, and it gets the gunge off. All you need to do is to mix a bit of baking soda – you may need about half a cup to do the bath thoroughly – with some water and apply it with a cloth. Leave it for a little, then get rubbing. It will require a little elbow grease to get all the muck off, but this is going to give you a small workout – it’s good for you. Rinse the baking soda off with fresh water.
Rinsing it off with white vinegar produces a satisfying fizz and also helps to attack any alkaline deposits.
Keep the vinegar handy for cleaning glass, whether the mirror or glass surround on a shower. The easiest way is to mix vinegar and water – a 50/50 mix – in a spray bottle and squirt this onto the glass. Rub well with a soft lint-free cloth, then dry off with another soft cloth. You can add some essential oil to the vinegar and water mix to add a pleasant scent to it, plus some germ-killing ability. Neat vinegar will kill mould spores, so if you have discovered a nasty patch of mould in your bathroom, attack it with neat vinegar, then make sure you leave the bathroom well aired to stop the mould coming back. If you haven’t got a spray bottle, dampen a soft cloth with a vinegar/water mix and rub it directly onto the glass. Dry off with a second cloth.
The toilet is the one thing to clean in the bathroom area that gets most of us nervous. All those germs and the smell…
However, the yellow crystals and the skid marks will yield easily to a bit of scrubbing with the toilet brush plus a bit of hot soapy water. If you have one of those old duck-head bottles from some commercial toilet cleaner you bought in the past, save them and fill it with some soap gel (made by pouring boiling water onto soap scraps or grated soap). More stubborn stains within the toilet bowl can be shifted by leaving it overnight with one of the following natural cleaners:
a cup or two of baking soda
denture cleaning tablets – about two will do
a can of Coke or Pepsi
Leave whatever you’ve selected in the toilet bowl overnight and DON’T USE THE LOO while it’s in there. Flush down in the morning, and finish off with a good scrub if necessary.
If you’re worried about germs in the toilet, you can use a little alcohol (vodka, whiskey, brandy, rubbing alcohol or methylated spirits) to wipe down the toilet seat and the flush button.
Don’t bother putting disinfectant inside the bowl – it will just go down the drain with the next flush. The only places you are going to come in contact with are the seat and the flush button, so these are the ones that need disinfectant. And you’re going to wash your hands after using the loo, aren’t you? So don’t be too fussy about killing every single little germ – you’re not going to eat there.