Cleaning without chemicals

Jan 16 2013 0 Comments Tags: chemicals, cleaning, soap

I'm not much of a cleaner.  Our house is pretty messy most of the time.  About once a week I try to at least tidy everything away and sweep the floor (we have tiles throughout the tiny house).  I try to keep the kitchen clean and sanitary (what will all the crazy things fermenting on the bench!), and we wipe the bath out before we have the next bath :)  I have never been one to buy lots of cleaning products.  I find the range of different products quite bewildering and try to avoid that isle of the supermarket because I can't stand the smell of the fake fragrances.

The things that we do buy are dishwashing liquid, toilet cleaner and a bench-spray-cleaner-thingy (we already replaced laundry powder with soap nuts).  I've been thinking for a while that we really need to find an alternative to all these products.  I hate the smell of these products, I hate that they have unnecessary blue and green colouring in them (why do I want to wash my dishes with flouro green? when did that come to represent "clean"?) and I hate buying the packaging that they come in.

Washing the dishes
A friend who makes soap recently introduced me to her soap shaker.  I had wondered what people did before the flouro green liquid was invented!  I had heard of soap shakers, but I didn't know what they actually looked like.  They are now almost impossible to buy.  You can either get them antique or from this person who started making them.  I did ask Pete to make me one, but he was very busy lately, and I didn't want to buy anymore flouro green, so I got impatient and decided to support a small business instead :)  They are quite expensive, but I think I will save that money by using soap instead of flouro green.

The soap shaker arrives from New Zealand and has been opened by customs -
It said "soap shaker" on the declaration, what's not to understand?

The soap shaker works by simply loading it up with soap and swishing it in the water before adding the dishes.  Its no more complicated that the flouro green liquid, just went out of fashion I suppose (you can work out the conspiracy theory for yourself).  I am lucky that the same friend who told me about it, also makes her own soap in the perfect size to fit the shaker with citrus oil, which smells lovely, but any plain soap would do the job (I'm thinking of using up all our odd soap ends in it).


Wiping the benches
Normally I just wipe the bench tops with hot water, but occasionally I will use a spray product, especially on the oven top if its greasy.  I had read that vinegar was a good substitute and had tried sloshing it around on the oven top, with surprisingly good results.  The other day when I was juicing the third bag of lemons that had been given to me by someone with an overflowing lemon tree, I decided to try a recipe that I had seen where the lemon rinds are soaked in vinegar.  After several weeks, this has resulted in a pleasing lemony smelling vinegar.  I'm sure it does the same job at the plain vinegar, so I wouldn't go out of my way to get lemons, but if you're just going to chuck them in the compost anyway, this is something else you can do with them.

Cleaning the toilet
In our house Pete cleans the toilet far more often than I do.  I don't know why, but I just don't really care so much.  We have always bought a commercial toilet cleaner.  Really its just a detergent with some colour and smell in it.  Some of them have disinfectants, but that's not great for our septic tank anyway - we want the bacteria to thrive in there!

Most of the natural cleaning ideas involve a combination of vinegar, baking soda and/or borax.  I decided that the easiest way to deal with this was to make up a mixture of baking soda and water in the old toilet cleaner bottle, so that it could easily be squirted around, and to use the vinegar spray that I made for the kitchen (in a different "bathroom bottle").  This seems to do the job and is probably better for the septic too. The baking soda can also be used in the bath if it needs some extra scrubbing.

(We also used a similar method to clean the BBQ recently, and it worked there too, and didn't burn Pete's hands like the oven cleaner he used up last time).

Mopping the floor
This usually gets done when we have visitors coming or something starts to get really sticky.  I have been using up the natural shampoo now that I stopped washing my hair, a splash of that seems to get the floor pretty clean.  When that runs out I will be using vinegar with a few drops of eucalyptus oil.  I find if the water is hot enough, you don't need much else anyway.

Any other suggestions?  What other natural cleaning products do you use?



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