Spring cleaning without the chemicals
I can't say I have a fondness for cleaning. In fact, I think I would rather have a root canal than spend the day cleaning my home's nooks and crannies, but there's something about that feeling of satisfaction and pride when you put your feet up afterwards to admire your reflection in your gleaming tiled surfaces.
Spring cleaning is a great way to embrace the new season and it certainly helps to re-energise your environment.
Worryingly, more often than not those citrus notes present in household cleaners are chemical-based synthetic imposters masquerading as fresh lemon or orange. Well now is the time to ditch the chemicals and opt for a natural spring clean; so next time you put your feet up you also know your home is naturally fresh-smelling and clean.
We wanted to share a few of our favourite cleaning hacks to get your chemical-free spring clean underway. And what’s more, they are not only simple, they’re also easy!
In true Blue Peter style all you need to get started are the following everyday items:
Make an all-purpose surface cleaner.
We have experimented with various different recipes for a great everyday cleaner but keep returning to these two simple recipes, which not only smell great but also possess aromatherapeutic properties.
250ml of boiled (then cooled) water
Two tablespoons of white vinegar
15 drops of lavender essential oil
15 drops of orange essential oil
60ml of white vinegar
Two tablespoons of Bicarbonate of soda
The juice of half a lemon
750ml of boiled (then cooled)
Add all ingredients to a spray bottle and shake until they have fully dissolved. You can spray on all types of surfaces and leave for about 30 seconds to disinfect. Wipe clean with a paper towel or cloth. Bingo!
Hints and tips for the bathroom
Get your mirrors sparkling.
Here is one of the most simple strategies for gleaming mirrors and windows. All you need to do is add around 40ml of white vinegar to 300ml of water in a spray bottle, shake, then spray onto mirrors and windows. Wipe the surface clean using newspaper or an old t-shirt (or any other lint-free fabric).
Admire your bathroom.
There is nothing more satisfying than seeing your bath sparkle and tiles shining brightly, and with a little elbow grease you can achieve a perfect finish and then enjoy a good cup of tea (or something fizzy...) before you tackle your next job!
- Check out your reflection in the tiles by putting on your most glamorous pair of rubber gloves and mixing 500ml of water with 60g of bicarbonate of soda, 200ml of white vinegar (optionally add a few drops of lemon essential oil) and then using a non- scratch scouring sponge, apply the solution and rinse with water. Voila!
- Now for your bath and shower; use half a grapefruit, dip into some coarse sea salt and get scrubbing. To remove build-up on your shower head you can place the shower head in a plastic bag with about 250ml of white vinegar, grab a cup of tea (you deserve it by now!) and leave it to soak for around half an hour. Using an old toothbrush, scrub clean and rinse with warm water before replacing.
- Removing pesky water spots is easy peasy; simply rub half a lemon over your taps and rinse, to have them spot-free in no time.
A nice touch is to add a bunch of fresh eucalyptus to freshen up the shower as the heat from the steam releases a truly stunning aroma which not only smells amazing but it’s also energising and can help to ease congestion. Get a bunch from your local florist and hang away from the direct spray of water with natural twine (cotton absorbs more water) and enjoy.
So your tiles are sparkling, but the grout is showing them up - like a mouthful of perfect teeth with biscuit crumbs wedged between them. So if your grout is letting the side down, there is a solution and all you need is an old tooth brush (a hard tooth brush) and determination. This is a great job if you need to get rid of some pent-up frustration!
- Step one: Add 1:1 white vinegar to water into an atomiser and spray the area you want to work on. Leave for five minutes before working the brush into the affected areas in a circular motion before rinsing with warm water.
- Step two: Make a bicarbonate soda paste by add a small amount of cooled boiled water to roughly 30g of bicarb to create the paste. Dip your toothbrush into the paste and work it into the grout. Get your atomiser and again spray the area, with the vinegar solution and you will start to see it fizzing and working on the pesky embedded grime. Leave for 10/15 mins and get to work with the toothbrush in the most affected areas and then rinse with warm water. Polish off with a dry cloth.
- Step three: If there are still a couple of stubborn patches you could always use Hydrogen Peroxide (35% Food Grade*). Spray it on the stained area and leave for a few minutes then get to work with your toothbrush. If that doesn’t work don’t give up! Try making Bicarbonate of soda and hydrogen peroxide paste. Apply the paste to the grout lines, leave for a few minutes, scrub and rinse with warm water.
Keeping on top of it all
Invest in a good bathroom squeegee and a spray bottle (labelled to prevent confusion) of bathroom cleaner to hand. Get everyone in the house into the routines of giving the tiles and glass a onceover after a shower to remove excess water, and a quick spray and wipe. These small tasks will make your regular bathroom cleaning easier and help to prevent ingrained grime in the grout.
Hints and tips for the kitchen
Keeping your kitchen spick and span: So by now you will know that baking soda is the King and vinegar is the Queen when it comes to natural cleaning, and the same applies when it comes to cleaning your kitchen. We've picked up a few tricks along the way on our journey to reducing the number of chemicals we use at home that we'd like to share with you.
Keeping things fresh in the fridge is as simple as adding a few tablespoons of baking soda to a bowl of warm water and wiping the surfaces down with a clean cloth, resulting in a crisp and sparkly refrigerator. We are big fans of the natural microfibre cloths that you can wash and wash forever. Well, not forever, but until your pass them on to your children in your will... We have been guilty of using disposable wipes in the past but abandoned them years ago.
There is always a danger that someone (such your partner) will undo all your hard work by leaving leftover Brussels sprouts or a decomposing burrito in the chiller drawer. Well, there is an easy solution. To eliminate the risk of being slapped across the nostrils by a toxic whiff when opening the fridge door, simply grab a storage container and fill it with approximately 120g of baking soda and several drops of zesty lemon essential oil and, hey presto, it'll stay fresh for between four to six weeks.
Microwave magic. We're all too familiar with that popping and banging sound resonating from the microwave when reheating soup or looking forward to beans on toast, only to discover a splattered mess that resembles a sauce-based Jackson Pollock when peering inside. Well, don’t let it ruin your meal; simply pop a slice of lemon in a bowl of water and microwave it for 4 - 5 minutes, letting the steam do all the hard work. Carefully remove the bowl and wipe down. No elbow grease required. It's easy-peasy...
And now for a new ingredient to add to your cleaning products list - coconut oil!
It turns out that coconut oil is not only a firm foodie favourite, but it’s also a bit of a legend when it comes to cleaning and polishing stainless steel elements in your kitchen. All you need is a dab of oil on a microfibre cloth to erase the build-up of grease, grime and sticky fingerprints. It takes just a tiny bit of effort and your stainless sinks and splashbacks will look like brand new again - until the next time you attempt a Bake Off Showstopper...
Hints and tips for living room
Freshen up your carpet and rugs: It takes just two ingredients to leave your carpets and rugs fresher and eliminate odours - and there's not a chemical in sight! It will be no surprise by now that it involves a healthy dose of bicarbonate soda (120g) and 20 to 40 drops of essential oil. Our go-to oil is lavender; as well as smelling amazing it also helps to remove odours and has antibacterial properties. However you can choose to go with fresh citrus oils, but be cautious of using tea tree oil if you have pets.
All you need to do is take a recycled jam jar, combine the bicarbonate soda and essential oils in the jar, replace the lid and shake until well combined. If you want to use the cleaner Shake n' Vac-style then you need the addition of grease proof paper and a rubber band. Remove the lid and secure some paper over the jar and poke some small holes into the paper and then you are ready to go. To get the best results we recommend you shake liberally onto your carpet and wait a couple of hours before vacuuming.
Purify the air throughout your home, naturally: Firstly, ditch the synthetic plug-ins. Now we are of course biased and recommend lighting natural candles or utilising room mists for an instant boost, or enjoy long-lasting fragrances from reed diffusers, but in recent times we have fallen in love with the benefits of aroma diffusers.
They work by blending millions of water and essential oil particles into a fine vapour and in no time at all your entire room smells amazing. This is one of easiest way to dispense the aromatheraputic properties of essential oils into your surroundings. What’s more they also act as humidifiers as the diffusers atomize the water and the essential oil so that the air quality is improved.
Plants are also fantastic to have in your home, especially those which help improve air quality such as the humble spider plant, weeping fig or English Ivy.
There are so many fantastic natural cleaning hacks to try but these are just a few of our favourite ones.
We would love to hear your hints and tips, so please add comments and help spread the word about how easy, simple and often cheaper it is go chemical free when cleaning.
Thanks for reading,
* At first glance, the name hydrogen peroxide or H202 sounds pretty artificial. But, put simply, it’s a combination of oxygen and water. Hydrogen peroxide has antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is a good multi-purpose natural cleaner for those tougher jobs, and also has disinfectant and bleaching properties. However, a word of caution, never use anything that is over 35% hydrogen peroxide in a solution as it is highly corrosive. It is strongly recommended to use only food-grade hydrogen peroxide.
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