Every day we’re exposed to over 170 different chemicals, and that’s not counting the commute home!
For those of us that take the tube, train or even drive to work, there’s an even larger barrage of chemicals and pollutants come into contact with you on a daily basis. Whilst the extent of this exposure hasn’t been fully explored, it can do no harm to revert back to more ‘natural’ cleaning solutions around the home, to help protect both you and the planet. With this in mind, we’ve put together some of our favourite tried and tested methods for cleaning your home in the most natural way possible.
As the famous saying goes, ‘when life gives you lemons… clean your home’, (well, maybe not quite like that) but there are much better uses for this little acidic fruit than just making lemonade. If you’re going to make one shift into the world of eco-friendly cleaning, get yourself a bag of lemons and be prepared to be amazed at their potent power.
- Most people know about the half a lemon in the microwave trick to remove odour, but did you also know that you remove surface stains and scratches with lemons?
- Being so acidic, lemon is naturally antibacterial, making it perfect for cleaning wooden chopping boards that can’t be cleaned as easily as glass
- If your dishwasher is not smelling as fresh as it should, add half a lemon wedge to either the top shelf or the cutlery draw and run your cycle as usual. Once it’s finished your dishes will sparkle and your dishwasher will be suitably deodorized with a fresh lemon scent
- If those troublesome t-shirt stains are refusing to budge, instead of throwing it away rub half a lemon over the stain before washing (white vinegar also works well)
- Adding lemon to slowly simmering water can help to remove stubborn odours in the air and creates a makeshift humidifier, perfect for cold and flu season
- Lemon and salt can help bring back the shine to aluminium sinks and worktops and can help keep bugs and insects away as they do not like the lemony scent
- Mix with white vinegar and get the perfect bathroom cleaner – this solution gets rid of limescale and streaks and smears on your glass, all whilst adding a fresh and natural scent
Houseplants don’t just look nice, they’re also a great way to remove toxins and chemicals such as formaldehyde from the home.
The cumulative effects of these plants can offer big results; however, you’ll need around 10 plants to make a difference according to a respected 19s0s study by NASA.
Even staying in doesn’t guarantee clean air. After all, not only do car fumes permeate into our homes, but we also put our bodies at risk from household pollutants such as furniture dye and glue, hairspray and air fresheners. So seeing as most city workers spend a shocking 90% of their time indoors, it’s crucial to add a few of these eco-warriors into your home to naturally filter the air. Staple plants in this list include English ivy, spider plants, Dracaena, weeping fig, peace lilies and Boston ferns. Together they remove toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene, ammonia, trichloroethylene and xylene. Make sure you have at least one or two snake plants and aloe veras in your bedroom, as these pollution fighters emit oxygen at night as they absorb the dangerous chemicals in the air.
It’s important to note that some of these plants are toxic to pets, so make sure they are high enough out of reach of your furry friends.
Bicarbonate of Soda
You might know it as bicarb or baking soda, and it might have been in the back of your cupboard since time began, but dig out this little pot and prepare to be amazed at the natural cleaning power it holds.
It’s an amazing odour neutraliser; wipe out fridge draws, plastic containers, toilets and pretty much anything else you feel needs a deep freshen up. Even if you have something that isn’t wipe clean, for example trainers, rugs or carpets, bicarb can work its magic. Sprinkle it onto the required area, leave for 30 minutes and then either shake it out or vacuum to remove the offending smell. This also works for toys, teddies and pet bedding – just sprinkle, leave and vacuum.
If you’re getting the garden ready for the summer and your barbecue is looking less than shiny take some bicarb and make a thick paste, apply, and leave for 10 minutes before scrubbing off. Similarly if you have patio furniture that has been gathering dust since 2018’s heatwave, take the same paste and make them gleam. (Top tip, if you have cushions on any of your furniture, you can sprinkle some bicarb inside the cushion cover before storing them for the winter).
Drains a bit clogged? Simply mix 100g of bicarbonate of soda and 100ml of hot vinegar. Pour down the drain and leave as long as possible before using.
Cheap, versatile and non-toxic, white vinegar should be a household staple when it comes to eco-cleaning.
- If your aluminium or even cast iron pans are looking a bit sad or rusty, wipe or soak very briefly in white vinegar before cleaning and seasoning as usual with cooking oil. Be careful not to leave the vinegar on for too long as you could run the risk of permanent damage on your cookware.
- Surprisingly white distilled vinegar is perfect for stubborn stains. If you have a pen stain gently blot with vinegar until the marks are gone and then run the item in question through a quick machine or hand wash.
- A red wine spillage usually signals disaster for a rug or carpet, however simply flush the area with vinegar and rinse well with warm water. This also works for tea and coffee stains, so no need to panic again when your friend/neighbour/child/dog/spouse knocks over your mug.
- If you have cut flowers that are starting to droop, or if you want to make them as fresh as possible, add two tablespoons of vinegar and one tablespoon of white sugar to the vase
- Vinegar is a great odour neutraliser – use it to clean your fridge draws, drains, dishwashers and even your ice/water dispenser. Just wipe with some warm water before use to get rid of any traces of a vinegar taste.
Word of warning- never mix bleach and vinegar together as it creates toxic fumes that are unsafe to breathe in.
A classic accompaniment to crusty bread, pasta, pizza and pretty much anything we can drizzle it on, olive oil has more uses than just adding a delicious flavour.
- If you’ve been redecorating your home in time for spring and you’ve found yourself covered in paint, soak the skin in olive oil for five minutes before rinsing in warm water. Not only will the affected area be free of paint but it’ll also be soft and moisturised!
- Olive oil is a great furniture restorer. If your leather sofa is looking a little tired from family life simply wipe down with some olive oil and a cotton cloth and watch it come up as good as new.
- For wooden tables simply combine two parts olive oil and one part vinegar or lemon juice and work into the wood to smooth away scratches and imperfections.
- If you have any summer furniture made out of wicker or rattan, use warm olive to avoid any cracks or drying.
As olive oil is non-toxic, it’s a great way to freshen up your home without harming you or your family.
If you have any more tried and tested natural tips, tweet us here! As with all cleaning products, these eco-friendly alternatives may not work on all materials. Always check with the manufacturer and test on a small area first.
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