Charlotte Willis shares her top tips on how to keep your home clean and sparkling the natural way.
The exact moment I vowed to discover an alternative range of cleaning products was when I witnessed the consequences of conventional detergents erupting upon the sensitive skin on my hands. A splash of washing-up liquid, a mist of bathroom spray, a biological washing powder on laundered clothes; that’s all it takes to set me off. I should have been cautioned by the labels on bottled products I used to purchase, signalling warning signs to health and the environment. With this is mind, I decided to keep my cleaning product supply the same as my dating life: simple, natural and free from anything that’ll get under my skin within a month of use.
Clean Not Cruel
Animal testing by big companies in the 21st century, when there are so many other equally as quantifiable and reliable methods of putting a product through its paces, is something I can’t accept. Yet, the cruelty continues for some brands of household products who test abroad to skirt EU regulations on ethics and brutality.
The best action is to distance yourself from such companies (a list can be found on PETA’s website, peta.org) and look for the official ‘leaping bunny’ logo on your cleaning products. This symbol is an indication of a compassionate and cruelty-free company, whose products, by law, have been certified as free from animal testing (although they may not be free from animal products). What’s more, such cleaning products are easier to find than you might expect. Brands such as Ecover, Method, Astonish, Marks & Spencer, Ecozone, Waitrose and Co-Op are certified cruelty-free and cover a wide range of budgets to suit each and every purse-string.
A Spotless Alchemist
Living a chemical-and-cruelty-free lifestyle doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your cleanliness. If you struggle to find products on the market that suit your allergies – or perhaps you fancy yourself as a holistic, wellness enthusiast who loves a Saturday morning concocting their own chemistry experiments in their kitchen – nature has all the vital ingredients at your disposal. The fundamental ingredients you need include:
• White/Cider Vinegar This classic ingredient found lurking at the back of your cupboard is one of the best cleaning ingredients out there. Highly acidic, vinegar acts as an antibacterial cleanser for surfaces and leaves your house sparkling. Vinegar in hot water works wonders for scrubbing windows, silverware and mirrors.
• Baking Soda Baking soda has been used as a household ingredient for many years. An open bowl of baking soda with a tablespoon of citrus juice is a simple air-deodoriser for a small room or fridge. You can also add it to a spray bottle with other ingredients such as Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap, lemon juice and purified water to create an all-purpose kitchen spray.
• Essential Oils I use these perfectly powerful, small and mighty droplets to enrich my facial serums, to help me fall asleep at night using a vaporiser, and to add a splash of luxury into my bath. What’s more, essential oils such as orange (don’t use if highly sensitive), lemongrass, lime, tea tree, rosemary, lavender and eucalyptus can be used and are readily available online. Add a few drops to your cleaning mixture and let the natural oils to purify your home.
One Mix To Clean Them All
The ultimate recipe for household harmony is one that you can use on most common bathroom surfaces, all your kitchen cleaning needs and even windows, mirrors and make-up brushes. I tend to use this mix in a spray bottle and use a cotton cloth. I recommend you adjust the essential oil strength to suit your needs, tastes and skin allergies, as some of the oils can trigger allergies and skin complaints such as eczema.
- 1 cup Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap – I use the rose-infused blend for my skincare, but you could use any you like to suit your tastes.
- 2 cups purified water (filtered or boiled and cooled)
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp baking soda
- 5 drops of tea tree oil
- 5 drops of orange oil
- 5 drops of eucalyptus oil
- 5 drops of lemongrass or lemon oil
- Simply combine together in a spray bottle, and clean, scrub and buff until you can see your face in the reflection of your bathroom tiles.
Personally, I like the inside of my fridge to be pretty squeaky clean. I think there’s nothing worse than inviting a guest round, only to have them fridge-diving into a cornucopia of abhorrent biohazards! Keeping your fridge clean is harder than you may first imagine, especially when it comes to all the delicious soil and insects that I find crawling out of my organic cabbages (yeck). Here’s my go-to solution:
- ½ spray bottle of purified water
- 10 drops of lemon essential oil
- 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
- ½ cup white wine vinegar
- Simply mix these all together and spray away any nasties.
- Finally, for a simple tip, try keeping a bowl of bicarbonate of soda infused with fresh lemon juice in a corner of your fridge. This’ll act as an odour-absorber for those late-night pizza leftovers or oops-I-forgot-about-that coconut yoghurt(esque) pot.
About the author
Charlotte is a freelance journalist and health writer who has worked with the Vegan Society and other online vegan publications. Her fields of expertise and interest include vegan nutrition, holistic healthcare, mindfulness, fitness… and gluten intolerance!