Stop! Drop the bleach!

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Image credit: http://ec.europa.eu

If you follow my blog you’ll already know about my love for natural cleaners but a recent guilty admission from a ‘natural’ buddy (your secret’s safe with me!) inspired the writing of this post.

We are bombarded daily with ads about the latest cleaning wonder-product and how like a tsunami, it kills everything in its wake. “Kills 99.9% of bacteria” they lament. We are scare-mongered into panic-buying gimmicky products without actually knowing the ingredients – or the dangers.

Sounds strong written like this doesn’t it? But their sales pitch works every time. We are consistently persuaded that we need to buy these extraordinarily expensive chemical-laden liquids so that we can cleanse our home of all it’s bacteria. We wouldn’t be responsible if we didn’t right?

Wrong. “Danger! Death! Kill!” Might be their buzz-words, but it’s not actually the small amount of bacteria we’re hurting most. In fact, these words ring true every time you pour that toxic cleaner into your toilet bowl or around your sink. Be less concerned about those few minor seconds that the chemicals are on the ceramics in your bathroom and care more about where that liquid goes next – straight into the natural water cycle where it does exactly what it says on the tin; kills everything in its wake.

If slowly poisoning and permanently damaging the natural eco-system doesn’t grab you, then consider the trace remains and air-born particles of these ‘killer-chemicals’ left behind in your home. Each year studies tell us that breathing and skin conditions such as asthma and excema are on the rise. Children are being raised in completely sterile environments, where even the good bacteria (that we really do need!) cannot survive. This not only affects immediate health but also inhibits the development of a strong immune system to fight future infections; if and when they are ever given the chance of everyday, natural exposure to germs.

A friend of mine who uses bleach liberally around the home, recently told me that she sometimes gets ‘dizzy spells’ from inhaling too much of the stuff. Do you need anymore persuading?!

Go natural, even homemade and you will save your money, your health and a burgeoning guilty conscience.

So what can we do?

As well as commercial brands such as Ecover; who make everything from toilet bowl cleaner to laundry liquid, there are a huge amount of options for natural, safe and effective homemade cleaners to use in the home. But you need to do a little shopping first!

6 Must-Haves:
White vinegar – cuts grease, de-scales, cleans mildew, shines glass and chrome.
Lemon – a strong food-acid, cuts grease, cleans.
Bicarbonate of soda – cleans, deodorises, softens water, scrubs.
A bag of soap-nuts
Castille soap – a natural non-toxic liquid soap.
Essential oils – lemon (hides smells, cuts grease), lavender (anti-bacterial) peppermint (anti-mice) and tea-tree (anti-bacterial) are a good base stock)

These basics will get you started and easily enable you to make my multi-purpose cleaner below but do explore other natural ingredients you can use in your cleaning recipes, there are some great blogs here and here with hundreds of recipes to keep you busy. And don’t forget to visit my previous post about the power of soapnuts which cater for all your laundry needs! You can buy them here as well as lots of ready-made beautiful natural goodies and products.

A simple multi-purpose cleaner

You will need:
2 cups white vinegar
Water
About 20 drops of your desired essential oil(s)
An old spray bottle

Using a funnel or jug, add the vinegar to your clean container, then top up with tap water. Voila!

Tips: This mild cleaner is great for everything! Wiping around sinks, tables, chrome/glass fittings, greasy stains, floors and even the toilet! I use lavender and tea-tree oil in the bathroom spray and citrus and peppermint in the kitchen. For really tough stains, use a sprinkling of bicarbonate of soda as a pre-scrub.

You can make a similar multi-purpose cleaner using just strained-soap nut liquid and adding your essential oils as above. As soap-nuts do spoil, this one will need to be kept in the fridge and used within a couple of weeks.

Invest in a couple of micro-fibre cloths which give you the power of cleaning with just water. Always wash and reuse.

I hope you’re converted enough to at least switch to a kinder branded cleaner. I would love to hear the results of any homemade cleaners!

Share your recipes and results below 🙂

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