I am going to be writing several posts about the everyday products we use in our house. The things that most of us use on a daily basis are full of nasty chemicals, and it can be overwhelming trying to make the change to a greener lifestyle. I have done it one step at a time, replacing things when they run out, with healthier, organic or chemical free versions. I hope these posts will make it easier for you to do the same, without feeling totally confused. There are loads of organic cleaning products out there, but you really don’t need to spend a fortune on anything special. So here is my list of kitchen essentials for the beginner:
Washing up liquid: This is one I am thinking of changing. I have been using Ecover, which is a better option for a beginner, however it does contain SLES (Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate) which is something you really want to avoid. Apparently it hasn’t always contained this and people who have used their products for a long time are very disappointed as it is clearly advertising itself as an eco friendly green product. Once I have replaced it (soon as we have almost run out!) I will let you know. But if you want to make a better choice than your standard options this is available at major supermarkets and is good value.
All surface cleaner: I use white vinegar for every surface in the house. Because it is acidic it kills germs and bacteria and despite what you may think it won’t leave any scent after a few minutes. It is really cheap and I just pour it into a spray bottle to use all around the house. For a quick wipe down of kitchen work tops I will just use vinegar on it’s own, but you can add other things listed below for a more substantial clean. I also use vinegar to clean the fridge, and wash the shelves in hot water with washing up liquid.
Stubborn work top grime and cooker gunk: White vinegar with bicarbonate of soda. You can sprinkle the bicarb onto the muck first and then spray the vinegar over. I leave it to fizz for a few mins before wiping clean. Use a scourer for more stubborn dirt, but bicarb is very effective at cutting through grease and grime. I found it hard at first to find large boxes of bicarb but you can buy bigger boxes from Wikaniko (online or through a distributor) and it is cheap. The stuff you buy for baking works exactly the same though!
Sink: Again I often use more of a paste on the sink by mixing the vinegar and bicarb. This also works well on taps with limescale. For the plug hole you can get rid of nasty smells using half hot water and half bicarb. It should be quite thick to help unblock the pipes.
Floor: White vinegar, hot water and lemon juice. Lemon is another great natural cleaner as it is a disinfectant, is acidic so kills germs, has a mild bleaching effect and smells lovely! Neat lemon juice is great for stains (even on fabric with a little salt!) and grease. There are plenty of uses for lemons in your cleaning regime, and I would use them more but to keep costs down I keep things simple.
Essential oils: If you want to make your house smell nice then adding essential oils to your cleaner is a brilliant idea. Lavender or orange are both lovely, whilst tea tree oil is a natural disinfectant and may be preferable if you like that familiar clinical clean smell that comes with chemical filled cleaning products!
Oven: For inside your oven, where it gets really mucky, bicarb is a must. I hate to think of using oven cleaning products from a bottle, which will leave a chemical residue which will then be heated along with your dinner, not nice. Again a nice thick paste with white vinegar and a scourer does the job. I told you that you really don’t need much variety in your cleaning cupboard!
Washing machine: I have recently started using soap nuts and I am very impressed. They release a natural soapy residue and are also a natural softener, so you don’t need to use a separate fabric softener (although I never did anyway.) No, they don’t get every single tough stain out, but you can find instructions on google for making your own detergent with them and using that on stains before washing as normal. I haven’t tried yet but will do soon. They are about £9 for 1kg, and you only need 4-6 soap nut halves in each wash. I think it works out as something like 350 washes, so excellent value. They do not give your clothes that freshly washed smell, but again we have only become accustomed to that because of all the rubbish in normal detergents. You can use essential oils in your wash if you miss the smell, but I have got used to it quickly.
Soap: I like a liquid soap in the kitchen, and because of the fact that you are preparing food it should be naturally antibacterial. So once again tea tree comes up trumps. This soap is by Faith and they have a great range of products, at reasonable prices. I always recommend looking online, because as much as I hate to admit it amazon do usually have the best prices. You can get these products in good health shops but you may pay a little bit more.
Coming up next will be part 2 – Chemical Free Bathroom! All of you everyday bath and shower products, but greener!