Cleaning can be a chore and if you are unlucky enough to forget to wear your gloves, all the cleaners, scrubs and wipes can leave your hands in a bad shape. In addition, the most efficient cleaners tend to have a rather unpleasant smell. Manufacturers of cleaning products have caught on to this and now offer their products with citrus, pine or other fragrance additives. While this is progress of sorts, there are a few much better, safer and environmentally friendlier ways to keep your home clean and fresh.
First, invest in a good doormat to stop the dirt from entering your home. This is not as crazy as it sounds as a study done at Exeter University has shown that houses without doormats contain much higher levels of toxins than those where a doormat is used. Then follow the good work by making your own cleaning products using fresh herbs and the contents of your kitchen cabinet.
They are just as effective as the ones you can buy, but add fewer toxins to your home, save you money, smell nicer and keep your hands in much better shape – even if you do forget your gloves. Making your own cleaners is easy and takes about as much time as making a cup of tea. Just collect a few empty jars and bottles, find some sticky labels and a pen and follow the instructions:
To make disinfectant, boil a liter of water, and then pour it over about 2 tablespoons each of chopped fresh thyme, rosemary and sage. Leave to sit until cool then strain into a bottle. Label the bottle and use this neat solution to wipe down work surfaces, kitchen cupboards and high chairs.
To make an anti-bacterial all-purpose cleaner, mix 100ml of your herbal disinfectant into 100ml of plain washing liquid. Do this carefully, or you will end up with a foam bath in your kitchen. Add a good splash to a bucket of water and use as floor cleaner or to wash out your kitchen cupboards. This mix also makes a good bathroom cleaner, as long as you don’t have a problem with lime scale.
To make an effective window cleaner, mix 50-100mI of vinegar (not the malt version or your house will smell like a chip shop!) into 500ml of herbal disinfectant solution. Use this in the last rinse for your windows and they should polish up streak free. To make your own bathroom cleaner, half fill a dry glass jar with baking powder, and then add half the quantity of dried herbs. Use lavender, chamomile or lemon balm for scent and rosemary and sage for their disinfectant properties, and shake it well to mix. Use it by sprinkling it into the sink, bath or toilet and then rubbing with a damp cloth.
If the grouting around your bath or kitchen sink has seen better days, make your own anti-fungal solution by steeping 1 tablespoon each of chopped chamomile, peppermint, rosemary and thyme in boiling water. Mix baking soda into a paste with this solution and apply to the grouting with a toothbrush. Leave for a while to soak in, and then rub with the brush or a damp cloth.
Some stains are too difficult for a liquid cleaner to deal with and a tougher scrub is needed. Table salt is useful here. It will not scratch expensive non-stick cookware, but gets rid of any number of baked on food and stains. Add chopped rosemary for a stronger scrub and its extra disinfectant properties. Baking soda, mixed to a paste with lemon juice or vinegar, will make short work of lime scale. Leave the paste on the lime scale for a few minutes, and then rub it off.
Lf you’re trying to restore a neglected basin or bath to its former glory, add chopped rosemary for extra scrubbing power. To make your own furniture polish, mix equal proportions of lemon oil and white vinegar. Liquid soap and herb oil also make a useful mix for nice shine and a lovely smell. In both cases, a little goes a long way, so mix only small quantities.
We’ve all lugged home bottles of fabric conditioner, trying to keep our clothes soft and sweet smelling. But a strong infusion of lavender, rose, bergamot or lemon balm, added to the final rinse, does as job just as good.
Making your own herbal cleaners, disinfectants and scrubs, instead of bringing halt a chemical factory into your home, does not only save money or the planet. The wholesome scents of fresh herbs improve our living space and lift our spirits. And somehow, it also seems to make cleaning much less of a chore.