Dirty Little Household Secrets - Tips for a squeaky clean, green & healthy home

Dirty Little Household Secrets - Tips for a squeaky clean, green & healthy home

Are you waging chemical warfare against household grime? Powerful cleaners that zap
household grime can contain ingredients you’d really rather not be breathing, wearing or washing in. Choice Magazine tested bathroom cleaning products and found that 43% of testers reported skin irritations from a popular mould remover. Nasty cleaning chemicals can be absorbed through our skin or inhaled. Here is a better way that’s healthier for you, your family and our planet.  The following pages contain easy, natural cleaning recipes for your home, starting in the kitchen. There are easy-to-make recipes for cleaning windows, deodorising sneakers, removing mould and making antibacterial sprays plus much more.

K I T C H E N

Light Surface Cleaner
5ml lavender oil
5ml essential oil solubuliser
250ml water
Pour the solubuliser and essential oil into a spray bottle. Cap & shake the
mixture. Then add some of the water (at around 70 degrees, not too hot or you will ruin the lavender, not too cool or the solubuliser won't work) Cap and Shake.  Now top it up with the rest of the cool water.  Cap and shake. Spray mixture onto surface and wipe off
with soft cloth.

aromatherapy for beginners workshop

Antibacterial & Insect Repelling Spray
2ml peppermint oil
2ml clove bud oil
1ml tea tree oil
5ml essential oil solubuliser
250ml water
Pour the solubuliser and essential oil into a spray bottle. Cap & shake the
mixture. Then add some of the water (at around 70 degrees, not too hot or you will ruin the lavender, not too cool or the solubuliser won't work) Cap and Shake.  Now top it up with the rest of the cool water.  Cap and shake. This solution can also be sprayed
around windowsills, skirting boards and doorways to keep ants at bay during the summer months.  Many essential oils contain antibacterial properties including lemon, clove, eucalyptus, tea tree, thyme and lavender oils.

Oven Cleaner
Bicarbonate soda
Vinegar
Sprinkle a little bicarbonate soda over oven surface. Spray vinegar over bicarbonate soda (watch it sizzle!) then leave overnight. Wipe off with a cloth dampened with water. Wipe over one final time with vinegar on your cloth.

Dishwasher Detergent
1 tbsp washing soda
Use 1 tbsp washing soda instead of commercial dishwasher detergents. Caution – use this one at your own risk as dishwasher manufacturers are quite strict about what you should use.

Sink Cleaner
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
Fill a spray bottle with half water and half white vinegar. Spray on any surface where there is soap scum and leave for 5 minutes. Wipe off.

Drain Cleaner
1 cup bicarbonate soda
1 cup vinegar
1 litre boiling water
Sprinkle bicarbonate soda down offending drain. Pour vinegar in and watch the reaction. Follow with 1 litre of boiling water. Wipe over drain plate with essential oil to leave a fresh fragrance. Baking soda (or bicarb) and salt can be used instead (½ cup each).

All Purpose Cleaner
Borax
Bicarbonate soda
Vinegar
Eucalyptus oil (try Lemon Eucalyptus for a fresh clean fragrance)
Place borax and bicarbonate soda into a recycled glass jar. Mix in enough vinegar and water to make a paste. Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil.  Wipe mixture onto surfaces to be cleaned and wipe off with a soft cloth. A note on borax - this can be harmful to children and pets if swallowed, you can make a milder version of this paste without the borax.

L A U N D R Y
*Laundry detergent
½ cup pure soap powder
1 cup hot water
Melt soap powder in hot water. You can add a few drops of your favourite essential oil if you like.  Pour into washing machine and wash as normal.
*“Caution – use this one at your own risk as manufacturers’ warranties are quite strict. Pour directly into the washing machine with your wash. Do not pour into soap dispensers.”

Super Natural Laundry Detergent
Put 5 soap nuts into a calico or cotton bag, put 5-10 drops of your favourite essential oil on the bag and toss into the washing machine with your washing. If you use cold water you can use these nuts up to 5 times. Then toss the nuts in the compost.

Dirty Collar Cleaner
Vinegar
Simply spray vinegar onto the collar before putting item through wash as usual. Hang item in the sun to dry. The combination of the sun and the vinegar should remove the offending collar mark.

Fabric Stain Removers
Vinegar
Cold water
Pure soap powder
In general, protein stains (meat, blood etc) leave a dark outline. Never use heat to remove them. Instead, treat with cold water and pure soap. Carbohydrate stains are normally dark in the centre. Treat with water, a spray of vinegar and wash as normal in pure soap.

Clothing Whitener

Oxygen Bleach (sodium percarbonate)

Dissolve in warm water: 1/4 cup for lightly soiled items, 1/2 cup for moderately soiling or to bleach yellowing whites.  1 cup for heavy soiled/stained garments.  Soak in the tub for 1 hour or overnight.  Hot water accelerates the bleaching action.  In cold water soak items for longer.  Care: Do not apply powder or concentrate onto fabrics.  Dissolve powder in water prior to submerging clothing or nappies.

African Black Soap
It can also be used as a shaving soap, and excellent dish washer, washing the family pet, great for removing make up and instant removal of stains from grimy and greasy hands and clothing.

B AT H R O O M

Liquid Handwash
250ml boiling water
2 tsp vegetable glycerine
2 tbsp grated soap powder
5 ml or your favourite essential oil
Add the grated soap to boiling water, stir and then let sit for about 10 minutes until it melts. Stir in glycerine and essential oil. When mixture is smooth, pour into dispenser bottle. Do this while it is still warm as it will set to a jelly when cold and be difficult
to pour.

Air Freshener

20 drops each lavender & bergamot oil
10 drops each peppermint & clove bud oil
100ml perfume base
150ml water
5ml essential oil solubuliser
Pour the solubuliser and essential oil into a spray bottle. Cap & shake the
mixture. Then add some of the water (at around 70 degrees, not too hot or you will ruin the lavender, not too cool or the solubuliser won't work) Cap and Shake.  Now top it up with the rest of the cool water.  Cap and shake.  Spritz into air four or five times in area that needs freshening, being careful to avoid your eyes.

Mould Remover—walls
250ml Vinegar
50ml Salt
5ml each Clove bud oil & Tea Tree oil
Mix ingredients into a spray bottle. Spray onto mouldy surface, leave for a few minutes and then wipe off using a soft cloth.

Mould Remover—tiles & grout
Vinegar
Bicarbonate soda
Clove bud oil & Tea Tree oil
Mix enough vinegar and bicarb to make a paste, add a few drops of each essential oil. Scrub into the surface with a toothbrush or scourer, leave for 30min and then wash off. Spray area with mould remover wall spray (above) and don’t rinse. To maintain your shower area, spray after every cleaning with Antibacterial & Insect Repelling Spray.

Bath & Shower Cleaner
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
Fill a spray bottle with half water and half white vinegar. Spray on any surface where there is soap scum and leave for 5 minutes. Wipe off.

Toilet Cleaner
1 cup Bicarbonate soda
1 cup vinegar
Sprinkle bicarbonate soda into toilet bowl and pour vinegar on top. Watch it react. Leave it for ten minutes then clean with a toilet brush and flush. To finish, put a few drops of tea tree oil on a cloth and wipe around the bowl and seat to provide some antibacterial protection (or use the antibacterial spray recipe).

G E N E R A L

Carpet Cleaner
2 tsp eucalyptus oil
2 tsp vegetable glycerine
2 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp Bicarbonate soda
2 tbsp perfume base
Mix ingredients together into a spray bottle. For spot cleaning, spray the mixture onto the spot and gently rub with pantyhose. For a bigger spill – place pantyhose over the head of a broom, spray lightly with your carpet cleaning mixture and sweep over the spot.  

Smelly Sneaker Saver
2 tbsp Bicarbonate soda
5 drops eucalyptus essential oil
Mix bicarbonate soda and essential oil (you can use anyone you like) into a container with small holes in the lid. Sprinkle mixture into your offending shoes and leave overnight.

Tiled or Timber Floor Cleaner
1 cup vinegar
1 bucket hot water
5 drops eucalyptus essential oil
Add vinegar and essential oil (you can use any one you like) to a bucket of hot water. Lightly mop or wipe over surface.

Window Cleaner
1 part vinegar
4 parts water
Mix vinegar and water into a spray bottle. Spray onto windows and wipe off with newspaper, window squeegee or a soft cloth. Gooey Stuff like bubble gum & glue gum Use pure eucalyptus oil and rub with a soft cloth (don’t use on varnished surfaces.)

Squeaky Clean Baby Steps
Do your best to learn about whatever you clean within your home. Scrutinise the labels on your cleaning products and then go on a product diet. Phase out harmful commercial cleaning products and replace them with healthy alternatives.

Useful Items for Your Green Cleaning Kit
Bicarbonate Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate)
Excellent odour absorbent and mild abrasive.

Borax
A naturally derived product in its concentrated form, borax disinfects, deodorises and inhibits mould growth. A strong alkaline, an eye irritant and toxic if swallowed. Keep all borax-containing cleaners out of the reach of children.

Essential Oils
Essential oils can add extra benefits to your cleaning products such as antibacterial, mould retarding, antiseptic, and insect repelling. Australian tea tree oil is a broad spectrum germicide, fungicide, and bactericide. Tea tree oil is currently in the process of being registered as a disinfectant in this country. Clove has antiseptic, disinfectant, insecticidal and larvicidal properties. There are too many to list.

Castile Liquid Soap
Vegetable-based soap useful for washing nearly everything.

Liquid Detergent
Detergents are made from synthetic materials that form less soap scum when combined with minerals in hard water. Most dishwashing liquids are detergents. Try purchasing vegetable oil-based detergents, which can be less toxic than petroleum-based products.

White Vinegar
Removes soap scum, grease and mineral deposits and acts as a deodoriser. Use only white distilled vinegar for these recipes.

Washing Soda
(Sodium Carbonate) It is slightly caustic and a great grease cutter. Don’t use it on waxed floors (unless you want to remove the wax), fibreglass or aluminum.

Soap Nuts
Soap nuts which are in actual fact berries are nature’s laundry detergent that grow wild on trees.

African Black Soap
This is an ancient soap used for centuries in West Africa and still made in its traditional way. It is 100% completely natural. It has a mild gentle smell.

Note - these ingredients may be toxic in their concentrated form. When used in the small amounts in these cleaning recipes, they are non-toxic.

 

Avoid Potentially Harmful Ingredients

Triclosan
Commonly used in commercial soaps, toothpastes and cleaning products with ‘anti-bacterial’ claims. An eye irritant that is moderately toxic by ingestion, and may cause vomiting and diarrhoea.

Formaldehyde
Highly toxic and a known carcinogen. Commonly found in air fresheners.

Ammonia
A very volatile chemical. Damaging to eyes, respiratory tract and skin. Commonly found in bathroom cleaners.

Bleach
A strong corrosive. May irritate or burn the skin, eyes and respiratory tract.

Chlorine
Can affect the throat and lungs if inhaled. Commonly found in dish detergents, bleaches, plastics and paints.

Hydrochloric Acid
Corrosive, eye and skin irritant, damages kidneys, liver and digestive tract. Commonly found in drain cleaners and toilet bowl cleaners.

Sodium Hydroxide (Lye)
A caustic, strong irritant that can burn both skin and eyes. Inhibits reflexes, can cause severe tissue damage if swallowed. Commonly found in oven cleaner.

Sodium Hypochlorite
A corrosive substance commonly found in mildew and mould cleaners. May burn the skin and seriously damage the eyes. Swallowing can result in nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and chemical burns to the gastrointestinal tract.

Phenol
A moderate to highly toxic corrosive commonly found in
air fresheners. May cause severe burns to skin, and if
ingested in high concentrations can cause burns to the
mouth and throat, convulsions and even death.

Hypochlorite Bleach
A corrosive substance. It irritates or burns the eyes, skin and respiratory tract. May cause lung damage, vomiting or coma if ingested. Commonly found in bathroom cleaning products.

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate
A strong and harsh detergent and a powerful wetting and foaming agent. Repeated use can accumulate SLS in the body. Found in shampoos, toothpaste, and soaps. Note that Sodium Laureth Sulphate is a higher foaming version of Sodium Lauryl Sulphate.

Phosphates
Naturally occurring compounds in waterways, but causing algal and weed growth when they reach abnormally high levels. Commonly found in soaps and washing detergents.
This information was taken from manufacturer’s material safety data sheets.

Commercial Cleaning Products
There are many environmentally responsible cleaning products on the market. If you are going to purchase commercial cleaning products, look out for these qualities:
• Phosphate free
• Low sodium content - less than 20 grams per wash
• Plant-based ingredients
• Synthetic fragrance free
• Petrochemical free
• Microfibre cloths – they use only water and many
can be recycled through the manufacturer.

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Toni McMahon November 12, 2015

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