19 Oct Cleaning your house naturally
Cleaning your house naturally
Cleaning your house naturally is easier than you would think. My aim in writing this article is to supply you with alternative cleaning methods without using the commercial cleaning products on the market. Most of these cleaning products are not actually needed and are often very toxic for both the body and the environment.
It is a impossible to have a completely sterile home and neither should you try to have one. You must find a balance between having a dirty home and having a sterile home.
Find the middle ground.
The dirtiest places in the home
Alternatives to commercial cleaning products
White or malt vinegar
Vinegar is a natural antibacterial, meaning it kills bacteria . It is not as powerful as some commercial antibacterials, but as a natural biodegradable product it is very strong   . It is even known to kill drug resistant tuberculosis . It is quite affective against mold/fungi although not as strong as it is against bacteria . Vinegar is even known to significantly suppress the cancer cells of leukaemia .
It comes in many different forms and types. Although I am not a fan of referencing Wikipedia – it does provide a great article on Vinegar.
Vinegar is an acid with a pH level of 2.5-3.5. Vinegar is made from a fermentation process of various products (fruits etc). Special bacteria (acetic bacteria) are added later on in the process turning the alcohol to acetic acid. Vinegar usually contains around 5% acetic acid. This acid amongst other components is what gives vinegar its antibacterial strength .
When it comes to cleaning you want either white or malt vinegar. Other types are usually used in foods and have weaker acetic acid content.
Baking soda/Sodium bicarbonate
Unlike vinegar, sodium bicarbonate is an alkaline/base. It’s strength is pH 9.
The brilliance of sodium bicarbonate is in its ability to deodorise smells. You can use it with anything from carpet smells, shoes, bins and car mats etc. It is a white powder so it can help visually as you clean.
he great thing with hydrogen peroxide (HP) is that is turns into water naturally. It is therefore not toxic for the environment.
Typically you can only purchase HP at 3-5% strength. If for whatever reason you decide to use it either orally or on your skin, you may want to dilute it a little with water.
Naturally occurring acid. Great fresh smell.
This is a type of wax produced by the worker bees. It is what the hive that stores the honey is made out of. It has brilliant cleaning affects, like polishing wood, layering glass so water beads and waterproofing clothes
This oil is great at removing sticky patches that have remained after stickers have been removed. It can also kill dust mites and bed bugs . So it is great to add a few drops to water and then spray over your bedding and mattress on wash days. In addition this stuff smells wonderful.
Cleaning your house naturally without using chemicals
TIP: Wear thick kitchen gloves whilst cleaning.
Wash this every day and replace completely every 2-3 weeks.
- Place cloth/sponge at the top on the dishwasher. The heat of the water and the cleaning tablets will neutralise the bacteria and clean the cloth/sponge.
- Nuke the cloth/sponge in the microwave for one minute – make sure the cloth/sponge is slightly wet.
- Wash the sponge/cloth in your washing machine with your towels on a 60+ degrees wash.
TIP: When rinsing the cloth, rinse well with hot water (gets rid of any fat) but on the final rinse make sure it is cold. You want to leave the cloth cold. This seriously hinders the growth of bacteria.
Mix the juice of a lemon with water and put it in a glass microwavable bowl (you can add a splash of vinegar too). Turn on for 5 minutes. The steam will help soften the stains so it is easy to wipe clean and the lemon juice will leave the microwave with a nice smell (although the lemon juice also helps soften the stains).
Unblocking drains and plugs within the house
1. Use a plunger. It works 99% of the time.
2. Use boiling water.
If for whatever reason it does not work pour about half a litre of boiling water down the drain. Leave it until the water disappears. Nearly all blocks are caused by hair and fat combining and pooling together.
When the fat is hot it is very liquid and so behaves just like water. When it laters cools down it hardens to a solid. The hairs collect and this creates your block. The boiling water should melt the fat and gradually dislodge the block. You may need to try this a couple of times.
3. Use bicarbonate of soda (baking powder). Add 1 tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda or baking powder to 100ml of boiling water. Pour that down the sink and wait 5 minutes. Pour more boiling water (this is just to flush the pipe) and then try the plunger again. If this still doesn’t work then you will need to investigate the block further.
4. Use an old wire coat hanger. Make sure you fold the very tip over slightly so if forms a small hook. This helps to move the hanger with the pipe (sharp edge doesn’t get caught in the pipe) and also to pull or push on the object blocking the pipe.
TIP: When using the plunger in a sink remember to cover the overflow holes.
1. Turn the oven on – between 50-100 degrees C. ONLY FOR FAN OVENS. If your oven uses a grill type device I would not advise turning the oven on. It is very easy to burn yourself when cleaning. While the oven is on keep the door open.
2. Remove the trays and shelves. We will deal with these shortly.
3. Spray the sides of the oven generously with your vinegar water. Leave for approx 20 minutes.
4. While you are waiting for the vinegar water to soften the dirt, prepare the bicarbonate of soda mixture. Take a litre of hot water and add 1 cup of soda. Mix well. The trick is to soak the trays and shelves in this mixture and then leave that to rest. I do this in the garden. I fill the trays and then put the shelves in the trays.
5. Go back to the oven and then wipe away the dirt using clean water.
6. Use the wire brush or steal wool to clean the shelves and a cloth with clean water to clean the trays.
7. Leaving the oven on for a further hour will help dry it out.
Oven trays & wire shelves
Discussed in section above.
Between the oven glass door
Some oven doors have two layers of glass. If for some reason it gets dirty between these two layers, it is actually very simple to clean. Open the oven door and on the side facing the oven you should notice four screws. Unscrew these and the two layers should simple separate apart. Use vinegar and newspaper to clean.
Fill your sink with hot water and add a cup of vinegar. Let the hobs and metal frames soak for an hour or so. Clean as normal or scrub with wire wool.
When cleaning chopping boards the most important aspect is to scrub them clean. You can then wipe them with vinegar or a stronger form of antibacterial depending of your preference.
TIP: Putting chopping boards in the dishwasher (especially when meat has been cut) is not good enough to clean the chopping board. You need to physically scrub the surface to break the cells of the bacteria before any chemical denaturing of the bacteria can occur [10 read the discussion at the end of the paper not the abstract].
Bad smells on your hands
Use a stainless steel object (you can usually buy these objects from a kitchen retailer store) and lemon together to remove bad smells from your hands after cooking. In my uni days I worked as a butcher and fish monger. We used these stainless steal bars everyday to remove the smell of fish from our hands.
Garbage bin, cupboards, handles, draws
All these can be cleaned with your vinegar water.
Fruit/vegetables and groceries
Fill your sink with warm water and add a cup of vinegar. When you have come in from you shop put the fruit and veg in the sink and let them soak. This will naturally clean them.
Coffee thermos & Tea pot
Fill with boiling water and add a good portion of sodium bicarbonate (half a cup depending of size). Let it soak for 2 hours. Scrub to finish (if you can). It is great for getting rid of those brown stains – even after they have been washed in the washing machine.
In addition you can just use your own toothpaste.
General household cleaning
Vacuum cleaner or hoover
Put some essence oil of your choice on the vent of the vacuum cleaner. Nearly all vacuum cleaners have a filter that should be cleaned regularly by hand washing it in cold water. Once dry add a few drops of your oil (lavender or lemon etc). Alternatively you can just sprinkle some sodium bicarbonate over the filter. This is great a neutralising odours.
For me feather dusters and cloths are useless for dusting and are just a sales gimmick. All they do is spread dust from one place to another. On top of this most people don’t clean their duster or cloth afterwards and so spread old dust around.
Add the juice of half a lemon and an equivalent amount of vinegar to a bucket of water. Soak a squeegee or micro fibre cloth in hot water and squeeze very tight. The cloth should be hot and damp (not wet). Wipe the surfaces. The hot water should evaporate and the vinegar should prevent streaking. The lemon just gives a nice smell. This technique can be used for nearly all surfaces – even wood. Remember the idea is to collect the dust with the dampness of the cloth, not make the surface you are cleaning wet.
Do not use this technique for screens or monitors.
Polishing wood surfaces
Natural bees wax is a great natural product for polishing any surface. Clean the surface and then add a thin layer of the wax. Buffer away the residue with a dry cloth to get a nice shine.
Use bicarbonate of sodium. Sprinkle the powder liberally over the carpet. Leave it over night and then vacuum the next day. Vacuuming the bicarbonate of soda will also clean and deodorise the vacuum cleaner.
Windows and/or glass surfaces
Use vinegar water. Scrub the surface and dry.
TIP: Use newspaper for really clear results. Newspaper is brilliant for drying glass. It does not leave small fibres or lint behind. Be careful after using newspaper as your hands will have ink on them. Most window frames are white and ink stains from a newspaper are difficult to remove.
Sofas and cushions
Sodium bicarbonate is a brilliant stain remover, especially for grease or oil. Use it with a dash of water to scrub at a stained area. Please note there is a difference between working a stain that is new to one that is old. New stains should be left without scrubbing. Old stains benefit from scrubbing. Here is a brilliant article of stain removal. Art of Manliness – how to remove stains.
TV/laptop screens and monitors
Cleaning monitors is actually very simple. It is perfectly safe to use vinegar water. Just add a small dash to some water, you don’t need a lot. Use a microfiber cloth. The 3 tips when cleaning screens are.
- DO NOT spray directly onto a screen. Spray onto a cloth.
- DO NOT use any form of paper. It is too coarse and often leaves small paper fibres behind.
- DO NOT use alcohol.
Spray a gentle mist over the top of the ash pill – the idea is to add a layer of mist, not to soak the ash pile. This stops ash from puffing up and out.
Gleaning the glass door (if you have a chiminana). Take some ash from the fire and mix it into a paste with water. Using newspaper, dip it into the paste and rub this onto the glass and keep rubbing with the same newspaper. This will clean off those stubborn black stains. It does need some solid rubbing, but it is effective.
Removing glue from left over stickers
Use eucalyptus oil extract. Apply neat to the glued area and gently rub. What tends to happens is the glue melts but ends up being sprayed over a large area. Don’t be put off by this. Keep applying a few drops with each wipe over and eventually it will all disappear. It really works great.
Crayon or pencil stains
Use cucumber peel.
Natural linseed oil is great for looking after wooden floors. To remove scratches or white marks on the wood, rub with a walnut. The walnut oil naturally dies the area and makes it look like new. This is a trick that works really well.
Polishing silver, copper or brass
Yep.. vinegar can even help polish metal cups or plates etc.
Banana peel for silver or toothpaste.
ketchup for copper
TIP: Always have a few old toothbrushes as part of your cleaning equipment. They are brilliant at getting in-between tiles, around tap fittings and small fixtures.
If your shower curtain is particularly full of mold or mildew then you can soak the curtain over night in some water and vinegar (1 cup should be enough). In the morning wash on a normal cycle in the washing machine. Add another cup of vinegar in the wash. This should clean the curtain well and remove all mildew smells.
Use bees wax. Make sure the glass is dry (doesn’t necessarily have to be brilliantly clean). Apply some bees wax and the buff with a dry cloth. This will create that needing affect you can see if cars. The water will quickly drain away and leave very few water marks. This process will probably need to repeat every 2-3 weeks.
Use vinegar or sodium bicarbonate and leave over night.
Interesting fact: Using cola or pepsi will not have any affect on bacteria . It may remove dirty marks however.
Just like with the shower doors. Add a thin layer of bees wax to prevent streaking and condensation build up.
Also cucumber peel works to prevent condensation.
Sink, cabinets and titles
These can all be cleaned with the vinegar water.
Grout between titles
To clean particularly bad grout or stained grout (even moody grout) you need to use strong solutions of either vinegar or sodium bicarbonate. Make a paste with the sodium bicarbonate – only add a little water. Spread this paste over the grout, leave for an hour and then scrub later.
Correct way to wash clothes
Towels, kitchen towels and hand towels (kitchen & bathroom) should be washed every 3-4 days. Wash these on 60+ degrees.
Underwear and socks should be washed at 60+ degrees (make sure colors and whites are separated). At high heat colors can bleed and blend.
Normal clothes can be washed on lower temperatures 30-40 degrees.
When you have finished washing leave the washing machine door open. This allows time for the washing machine to dry out preventing mildew.
If you have a European washing machine or front end washing machine, make sure you wipe around the grey rubber seal every month to clean it. This will prevent smells.
TIP: Have a lost and found box near the washing machine to collect odd socks and loose items.
Stains from clothing
Use corn flour on a silk blouse. Cornflour for fat stains.
Salt for red wine.
Hydrogen peroxide for blood.
Lemon juice on white fabrics.
Use an iron and paper to remove wax from clothing.
For a full details you can check out For Better Living.
TIPS: Don’t dab. Avoid pressure or rubbing. Instantly add cold water, don’t use hot water.
Remove static from your clothes
Use two tennis balls in the dryer. Tennis balls also work when drying a down jacket. The tennis balls consistently hit the jacket dispersing the down throughout the jacket giving a uniform displacement of the down and proper air time to dry. Works perfectly.
Adding vinegar to your wash will also reduce static if you prefer not to use a dryer.
 From the TV program Mythbusters, Episode 135 – http://mythbustersresults.com/hidden-nasties
I have used this as my source because I trust their experiment approach.
 Antibacterial Action of Vinegar against Food-Borne Pathogenic Bacteria Including Escherichia coli O157:H7, Journal Of Food Protection Vol 8, Page 929-1086 – http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/iafp/jfp/1998/00000061/00000008/art00005
 Survival of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella enterica serovars Typhimurium in iceberg lettuce and the antimicrobial effect of rice vinegar against E. coli O157:H7, Food Microbiology Journal, Vol 24, Issue 7-8, Page 745–751 – http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0740002007000330
 Antimicrobial Activity of Olive Oil, Vinegar, and Various Beverages against Foodborne Pathogens, Journal of Food Protection, Vol 5, Page 1072-1294 – http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/iafp/jfp/2007/00000070/00000005/art00018
 Antimicrobial Activity of Home Disinfectants and Natural Products Against Potential Human Pathogens, Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, Vol 21, Page not given – http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/501694
 Antimicrobial Activity of Vinegar and Garlic Extracts, Food Science – http://en.cnki.com.cn/Article_en/CJFDTOTAL-SPKX200801010.htm
 International Journal of Food Microbiology, Vol 16, Issue 4, Page 343–347 – http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0168160592900363
 Effects of sodium bicarbonate, vinegar, acetic and citric acids on growth and survival of Yersinia enterocolitica, Food Science and Technology, Vol 11, Page 311-317 – https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/fstr/11/3/11_3_311/_article
 Acetic Acid, the Active Component of Vinegar, Is an Effective Tuberculocidal Disinfectant, American Society of Microbiology, Vol 5, Page not given, Feb 2014 – http://mbio.asm.org/content/5/2/e00013-14.full
 The survival and disinfection of Salmonella typhimurium on chopping board surfaces of wood and plastic. Food Control, Vol 9, Issue 6, Dec 1998, Pages 363–368: http://ac.els-cdn.com/S0956713598001273/1-s2.0-S0956713598001273-main.pdf?_tid=850eb3c8-61d5-11e4-a8e8-00000aacb35d&acdnat=1414853221_5fa9497eda9524e689833c8ba6d0fc9d. Read the discussion at the end of the paper not the abstract.
 A simple washing procedure with eucalyptus oil for controlling house dust mites and their allergens in clothing and bedding. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Vol 100, Issue 4, October 1997, Pages 464–466: http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(97)70136-2/fulltext.