Do you want to ditch the chemical cleaners and plastic bottles and move to lower impact cleaning for your home? I certainly do and we are largely there. In this post I want to share some of the tips and recipes I’ve picked up to date.
Non-Toxic, Lower Impact Cleaning Kit
You’ll be able to do away with a lot of the single purpose, toxic cleaning products that might be lurking under your laundry sink and replace them with a small range or natural products. Your lower impact cleaning kit might include:
- Bicarb Soda
- Washing Soda
- Olive Oil
- Eucalyptus Oil
- Tea Tree Oil
- Lemon Juice
- Liquid Castile Soap
- 100% cotton rags from old t-shirts and the like
- Old cotton nappies or towels
- Old toothbrushes
- Repurposed spray bottles
General Purpose Household Cleaning Spray
I don’t know many people who like to clean but for me it is a lot more pleasant when I’m not using nasty chemicals. I’ve been using this more gentle cleaning spray for many, many years now and it works brilliantly.
Equipment and Materials
- Empty 1.5L plastic bottle
- Small funnel
- Measuring cup & spoons
- 2 Tbsp washing soda
- 1 cup boiling water
- 300mL vinegar
- 3 Tbsp dishwashing liquid or liquid Castile soap
- 1 Tbsp eucalyptus oil
- 1L water
Washing soda is natural sodium carbonate and is readily available in the supermarket cleaning aisle or in bulk from The Source.
- Pour washing soda and boiling water into the bottle and allow washing soda to dissolve.
- Add remaining ingredients and shake to combine.
- Fill a spray bottle with the mixture and use as you would any all-purpose spray cleaner.
Recently I discovered a variation of this recipe had been featured in a morning television spot and that it is featured on the Lectric washing soda packet and the Lectric website. They call it “all-natural” but that would depend on the dishwashing liquid you use. I substitute liquid Castille soap and it is perfect.
Anyway, this spray really, really works. I use it to clean everywhere in my house including the bathroom and the kitchen.
We often make homemade pizza and I roll out pastry on our stone bench frequently too. This leaves a greasy residue which is cleaned up easily with vinegar from a spray bottle and a clean cloth to leave my benchtop shining again.
Stainless Steel Cleaner
I use bicarb soda and a soft cloth to clean our stainless steel sink and appliances. It needs a good rinse off to get rid of the white powder but it leaves everything nice and shiny.
Non-Toxic Oven Cleaning
I have a so called ‘self-cleaning’ pyrolytic oven. It is good but it doesn’t do everything. The racks and trays have to be removed before cleaning and inside the door must be clean before ‘pyro-ing’. I don’t know about you but I think the hardest part about cleaning an oven is cleaning the racks!
Still, I don’t want to use those highly toxic oven cleaners. A trick I have learnt is to put all the racks on a large tray. I use the one from the griller part of my oven. I put the whole lot into a garbage bag (that I reuse over and over again for this purpose) and pour about half a cup of ammonia into the tray. I fold the garbage bag over and tuck it under the tray to contain all the fumes and leave it overnight.
After this treatment, the cooked on grime on the racks wipes off much more easily.
To clean the door (and the interior of the oven if it were not pyrolytic), I sprinkle bicarbonate of soda over the surface and spray this with vinegar. It fizzes up and then forms a paste. I let this sit for a little while and then scrub the surface with a cloth. I use a clean damp cloth to wipe out any remaining bicarb.
Before I go any further, however, I will say that recently I read that because bicarb and vinegar counteract each other, they should not be used at the same time. It makes sense from a chemistry perspective so in future I’m going to use the method described on Kitchn.
Natural Toilet Cleaning
Bicarb and vinegar are employed again to naturally clean the toilet. I use my general household cleaner to clean the outer surfaces of the toilet and cistern.
For regular cleaning of the toilet bowl, spray some vinegar (mixed with an essential oil like Tea Tree for its antibacterial properties if you like) around the bowl. A little vinegar poured into the water will also help soften any mineral build up. Let this sit for a few minutes then sprinkle some bicarb around the toilet bowl, scrub thoroughly with a toilet brush then flush the toilet.
Although the ‘if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down” advice is well intentioned, I find that urine left in an unflushed toilet leads to a build up of minerals below the water line. If this happens, remove all the water from the toilet bowl and pour vinegar into to bowl up to the water line. Allow this to sit for as long as possible. The mineral deposits will soften and can be scrubbed away with relative ease after several hours.
Gentle Glass Cleaning
Do you know what cleans glass, such as bathroom mirrors, best? Water! Unless you are cleaning glass that is very greasy, such as a kitchen splash back, plain water dried off with a soft cloth is the simplest way to clean glass. T-shirt rags are the ideal cloth because they do not shed fibres.
For a bit more grunt and grease cutting power, add vinegar.
A Family Footprint follower offered this recipe for a natural window cleaner (similar to the one found here):
Combine the following ingredients in a spray bottle and shake before use. She uses two bamboo cloths, one to clean and a dry one to finish off.
- 1/4 cup white vinegar (apple cider vinegar will work as well)
- 1/4 cup isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 cups water
- 8-10 drops essential oil
Homemade Wood Polish
I have to admit, I’m generally not a very thorough housekeeper so polishing wood isn’t something I do a lot but in the past I have used a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice effectively to clean and polish our wooden entertainment unit. The Blender Girl has more detailed instructions.
When our timber floors get scratched, a walnut cut in half and rubbed vigorously into the scratch does wonders.
Well I think that just about covers all my cleaning products and they are all natural. What do you use for lower impact cleaning? I’d love your tips and recipes to add to this list. Leave them in the comments below.