Domestic pollution is claimed to cause more environmental damage than industrial pollution. This is both highly feasible and alarming when you consider the chemicals in multi-purpose cleaners, washing-up liquids, hand wash, disinfectants, and disposable wipes to name just a few. This is why I can now only entertain household cleaning the natural way. The household products in this blog feature because they can save you money, are kind to your health and to the environment. A.M Gower was ahead of his time in 1980 when he wrote that “of the pharmaceutical products, detergents, cosmetics, and other similar domestic products and their metabolites (ingredients), greater quantities are discharged into sewers from domestic premises than from the premises manufacturing them”.
When buying household cleaning products and toiletries, check the labels carefully and opt for environmentally-friendly products which don’t contain potentially harmful chemicals. Better still, make your own and save money at the same time. The household products we were using which contained potentially harmful chemicals and were therefore not environmentally-friendly had weighed heavily on my mind for several years.
Whilst I had managed to do this for my hair and body as much as possible, this hadn’t extended to household products. Making them in order to save money coincided with being in control of what chemicals we were or were not ingesting. Instead of continuing to fret about this and other nasty consequences. It was time to go DIY. The best way to avoid chemicals of concern is to use fewer products and in smaller amounts or not at all. These simple tips for household cleaning the natural way will reduce your family’s exposure to potentially hazardous chemicals commonly found in the home.
Washing the Dishes: Household Cleaning The Natural Way
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve poured too much liquid into the washing-up bowl, yet never thought to dilute it in the bottle. Nowadays, I fill half a standard-sized bottle with washing-up liquid and top it up with water; it works just as well. At the end of January, we bought a 5l container of washing-up liquid – it’s still going strong and will see us through to autumn at the earliest.
We opted for Ecover as it’s plant-based and great value for money based in terms of price per liter. Nevertheless, I have felt uneasy about the company for a while. This is partly due to the fact that their sustainability credentials have recently been in question. But mainly it’s because they are rumored to no longer be cruelty-free. I haven’t knowingly used any products tested on animals since I was a teenager. Unless this is irrefutably disputed by the company I’ll continue to use Bio-D. At 88p per bottle, it’s also £1.11 cheaper than Ecover (on Amazon).
Bio-D is an independent, family-owned, ethical UK company. Bio-D is committed to promoting hypoallergenic, eco-friendly detergents with minimal environmental impact in terms of both their manufacturing processes and use by consumers. They are the only UK-based producers of a 100% hypoallergenic household detergent range (to the best of my knowledge).
Here is a sample of the homemade household products we use – you can find the full list in my book Well-Lived Life With Less:
Baths, Tiles & Sinks: Household Cleaning The Natural Way
Combine two cups of Bicarbonate of Soda with half a cup each of washing-up liquid and hot water. Mix thoroughly then add two tablespoons of distilled white vinegar. Apply immediately, scrub and wipe.
Drains: Household Cleaning The Natural Way
Pour half a cup of Bicarbonate of Soda then a cup of distilled white vinegar into the drain. Leave for 15 minutes then rinse with hot water.
Laundry (Washing Powder & Conditioner): Household Cleaning The Natural Way
Thoroughly mix one cup of Borax substitute with half a cup of Bicarbonate of Soda and a quarter cup of soap flakes in a large container (Tupperware or an old detergent box is perfect). You can buy boxes of soap flakes but grate my own natural soap. A food processor will also work but make sure you clean it properly afterwards.
One heaped-dessert spoon is plenty for a standard wash but I add two to a heavily-soiled or larger wash, e.g. my husband’s work clothes (he’s a tradesman), bed linen, etc. This recipe also suggests adding 10 drops of essential oil but I found that the scent disappeared, so I save it for my oil burner instead.
Want brighter whites or to remove odors? Add a cup of distilled white vinegar or half a cup of lemon juice (strained) to the rinse cycle. White vinegar is also a great natural and hypoallergenic alternative to fabric conditioner.
Mirrors & Windows: Household Cleaning The Natural Way
A solution of water and distilled white vinegar (50/50) will make your windows and mirrors sparkling and streak-free. Water wiped off with scrunched-up sheets of newspaper works also just as well (thanks, Mum).
Multi-Purpose Cleaner: Household Cleaning The Natural Way
Don’t waste your money on so-called multipurpose cleaners. Simply mix half a teaspoon of Borax and four tablespoons of distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle. Add 3 to 4 cups of hot water and shake well. A dash of washing-up liquid will add extra cleaning power.
Oven: Household Cleaning The Natural Way
Add enough water to a quarter cup of Borax to make a paste. Apply to all oven surfaces and leave to soak overnight. Rinse well.
Toilet: Household Cleaning The Natural Way
I’ve felt guilty about using bleach (and products containing it) for years but finally did something about it in 2017. Have you ever seen what Cola can do to a copper coin? Then you’ll appreciate its effectiveness in the removal of human waste. Buy a bottle of cheap Cola, pour the contents down the toilet and leave for as long as possible. I use a natural room spray rather than aerosols.
* adapted from DIY Washing Powder Recipes For The UK