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CLEANING YOUR HOME (NATURALLY)

What actually goes on in our homes? I’m talking about daily life and activity; Family, kids, pets, guests. What we use to keep our homes clean can make a big difference.

What actually goes on in our homes? I’m talking about daily life and activity; Family, kids, pets, guests. What we use to keep our homes clean can make a big difference.

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There is a new blog Cleaning Windows And Mirrors ( Without Streaks) on this Link

There is more information on cleaning your soft furnishings like mattresses and bedding here

CLEANING YOUR HOME

The reason for this blog was really simple, We just wanted to be able to clean our home with safe products and without toxic ingredients that could effect our family and dogs.

Like anyone else, we also wanted it to smell lovely and fresh too. And with three dogs, that can be a challenge!

Max our Labrador Retriever, has a habit of licking the floor, and his paws constantly. It has made us more aware, of just what we were cleaning the floor with.

All these products can leave a residue, and be inhaled, which a problem for everyone in our home.

Of course, any of these products are also flushed down the drain and into our environment and waterways.

I have noticed more TV advertisements changing their focus to more naturally produced products ( often offering up a % of “Natural” ingredients), suggesting their ability to recycle also. Most companies are just out to make profit, and will follow what people are looking for.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO FIND MORE INFORMATION ON A CHEMICAL OR PRODUCT CLICK HERE

WHAT ARE HARMFUL CHEMICALS IN CLEANING PRODUCTS?

What are we all actually cleaning our homes with? Are they safe to breathe in? Safe for your baby to crawl around on? A great explanation, of these products and deeper information can be found on the links below.

With all the fear of the Covid-19 virus , people have been cleaning more rigorously . There have been many advertisements on using certain chemicals like bleach to kill the virus.

It is a worrying time, of course people want to know they are safe in their own home.

Have you ever looked at the containers for these products ,and wonder why they have danger, poison labels for human and animal are on the label?

Also many have warnings of skin contact. Why it is safe to have these in our homes? The fumes from some of these products are very strong and can effect your breathing.

The safety around even the pods for washing clothing, is now very strict, it is a mine field for little children.

EWG have a really fantastic Guide To Healthy Cleaning /Decoding the Labels – They makes some very valid points on what to avoid ( deeper information on the link) –

“Active ingredients” – hazardous chemicals which are pesticides to kill bacteria and mold. That you don’t really need in cleaning your home. Some products contain  Triclosan which is terrible for our waterways. This was added as a anti-bacterial and was in toothpaste!

“Antibacterial” – basically a pesticide.

Natural”- This can cover anything really, I have been very wary about this term after all the Green Washing you see on advertisements. Unfortunately it doesn’t always mean ‘natural’.

As long as there are some natural ingredients listed on the ingredients ( regardless of everything else in the container)

Optical brightener-” used to make your clothing look cleaner, but again is an irritant and can stay on the fabric after washing. Not great in our waterways .( when you start listing these ingredients and see how many can damage our environment it is a huge amount of polluting chemicals being used everyday.)

“Biodegradable” Not all of these breakdown harmlessly into our waterways.

Chlorine bleach“- This is corrosive and it is better to have a non- chlorine alternative but still be careful how you use it. Also another reminder NOT TO MIX CHLORINE BLEACH WITH VINEGAR as this can cause a toxic chemical reaction. ( I first came across non-chlorine bleach when I lived in NY, the concept use to really throw me, we never had that type of product in the UK at the time).

FLAMMABLE” – This speaks for itself, be careful where you are storing your products, we get really hot summers here in France, even the Sanitizer Gels can be very flammable. I saw one photo where the Gel had exploded in the car in the heat and melted part of the plastic on the door!

ESSENTIAL OILS” – This was a bit of a surprise to me, I guess you assume that they are safe as they are ‘natural’ but you need to be aware of allergies to using these as well.

There are many more chemicals on the list, the one that surprised me was the word “Organic” which according to EWG can mean anything on a cleaner.

I have seen the word Organic on a number of cleaning products, I guess we are back to reading labels and not relying on the large label on the front of the bottle, where they paste their claims!

One of the jobs that I have done in the past, was to do Market Research for a couple of companies.

One of the tasks given ,was to get people in from the shopping area, and ask them what scent they preferred for a cleaning products. So much money is spent on the scent, look and color of products which can mask the chemicals in them.

The issue I have with these products, is that they seem to suggest that they are safe in small amounts. What they fail to add to that ,is when we end up mixing all of these products together in our home, what chemicals are blended together.

By the time you have washed the floor, cleaned the kitchen tops and washed the dishes, just how many of these toxins have been released into our environment?

I absolutely hate the smell from some of these, though probably the fumes from oven cleaner has to be the worst.

The green washing on some of these products, such as plant based, but what else is in there? Biodegradable, maybe giving how many days before break down. It is still ending up in our sewage and will end up somewhere.

Experience Life, gives “8 hidden toxins hiding in your cleaning products“. In depth on article link.

” Phthalates-” endocrine disruptors- found in  air fresheners and anything else that is fragranced.

 “Perchloroethylene “- a neurotoxin- found in dry cleaning and products to clean areas.

Triclosan“- antibacterial – can be found in products that have this on the label, maybe endocrine disruptor.( this is in so many products, how many of us knew what we were using)

Quarternary Ammonium Compounds”, or “QUATS”– antimicrobial, can be found again in products labelled with antibacterial. Also in dryer sheets . skin irritant too. It can be found in hand wipes, how many of us are using those at the moment.

 2-“Butoxyethanol “- multi -purpose cleaners. gives a sweet smell, these have some major health issues.

 “Ammonia”- in bathroom cleaner and window cleaner—can be a strong  irritant

“Ammonia can also create a poisonous gas if it’s mixed with bleach.”

Chlorine“- another irritant and the fumes can be a strong problem for respiratory problems. Found in scouring powders. Such as loo cleaners.

Sodium Hydroxide“- in oven cleaners, extremely corrosive, can also be called Lye .

They also have a whole list of DIY cleaners that you can try.

It is the story of Beth Greer, and how finding a tumor in her chest, led her to find a cleaner lifestyle without toxic chemicals in cleaning products and her personal care.

After changing her lifestyle and keeping away from processed foods, the tumor disappeared.

This then led to her writing a book called

SUPER NATURAL HOME Well worth looking into, I find it so inspiring to be able to change your life.

ORGANIC CONSUMERS .ORG

They have a really good article, on what is in cleaning products , giving you solutions to enable you to change some products.

Looking at labels if it says Danger, Warning or Caution, it does give a warning on how toxic they are . If they say  Danger or Poison it says it all really.

To clean more naturally why not use soap, water, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and borax and a bit of effort! ( I often see the dishwashing liquid Dawn being recommended, we can’t seem to find that here in France)

One professional cleaning lady I saw talking the other week says that she uses washing up liquid all the time for most cleaning jobs.

THE SPRUE explain how to use washing up liquid to clean, though they mention that some of them do contain the chemical Triclosan as mentioned above. Using it also to clean stubborn dirt on window before going back to clean it with a glass cleaner.

WATCHING A TV PROGRAM

There used to be a house cleaning program on TV( How Clean Is Your House) where they went into homes that had serious problems with years of neglect and cleanliness issues. Equipped with their fancy rubber gloves!

It was interesting to see that they used natural products, such as vinegar, bicarbonate, lemon juice and cola, to clean such a deep grained dirt. It was an “Oh my gosh! how can you let the place get like that!” type of program.

I never thought that something so natural could be that effective.

Since then, we have armed ourselves with loads of vinegar, lemon juice, bicarbonate of soda and essential oils.

There are “Safer” products on the market these days but it does take some time to read and check on the ingredients on the back of products.

Again on TV recently, there is yet another program on cleaning up neglected homes, often having being neglected by their owners for long periods.

Only this week our daughter was watching the struggles of a divorced man with problems and the apartment was in quite a state.

It was interesting to note one of the cleaning mixtures that the two guys recommended was a mixture of white vinegar, lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda for cleaning the bathrooms. It removed all manner of yucky stuff.

If you don’t feel up to making your own products, there is often an organic cleaning agent, that can also be found in your local health or organic shop.

We find these rather expensive, so we have listed a number of recipes to help you D.I.Y.

I recently found another company that seem to be getting some great reviews for their cleaning products called KOH.COM

 This link goes to their list of ingredients and facts page.

I have seen quite a few videos on YouTube if you want to check out some of their reviews and ideas on cleaning . Even hard to clean items such as cookers and garden furniture.

I am looking forward to giving this stuff a go, especially on the cooker which is getting used even more frequently! They have a lot of supporting cloths and spray bottles which are extra to go with the products.

I saw an article on the IDEAL HOME with this product being recommended by TV presenter KIRSTIE ALLSOPP.

Another company called Sodasan – which I believe is made in Germany, I have linked their product policy on the link.

They are pro- environment and even their packaging is from recycled products.

DO THE DIY RECIPES WORK ?

I am often hunting differing articles on this subject, I came across an article today in the NY TIMES on whether these DIY Cleaners really work.

It is an interesting take on what is out there , especially some of the recipes on You Tube and Pinterest.

I really understand what she is saying, you definitely feel as if you are trying to take some control, over what you are using around your family. Everything is a chemical, even water, so being mindful about how look at these DIY solutions.

Also understand about which ingredients you are mixing together, some can be hazardous. Really looking into some of the recipes and understanding them before we try them out.

WHAT ARE THE TOXIC DANGERS HIDING IN MOUTHWASHES & CLEANING PRODUCTS ( EVEN IN HAND SANIZITER WIPES)

There are a number of dangers in using simple products for cleaning, or at the moment as we are all using many more sanitizing hand wipes and hand sanitizer gels due to the Covid situation. Chemicals such as Methanol, found in anti- freeze, fuel, can be found in aspartame ( how many foods do we find this sweetener in?)

Even mouthwashes could be affecting your ability to having a baby due to the toxic chemicals hiding in these everyday products.

( Link-“Toothpastes, mouthwashes, nasal sprays, lotions, shampoos and household cleaners all contain “quats” – or quaternary ammonium compounds used as antiseptics.” )

These ‘Quats’- As mentioned were found in some surface wipes by Dettol( benzalkonium chloride,) a couple of Colgate Total mouthwashes and an Aveeno moisturiser- (SPF 30 has the same chemical )called positively radiant . There were test done on mice with these chemicals which made them infertile.

There are more examples on the link. Something as simple as a cleaning wipe has the ability to effect our health.

It feels like everything you thought you could use safely, needs to be looked at with fresh eyes.

USING VINEGAR TO CLEAN YOUR HOME

We have kept it simple, and often distilled white vinegar mixed with pre-boiled water , it works well in a spray bottle, you can add a few drops of essential oil too, this helps to get rid of dirt, and soap scum.

You do need to be careful where you use vinegar, it doesn’t work on surfaces like marble and stone,( not on Copper Baths) it can etch into it as it is acidic. Good Housekeeping gives some ideas on this too.

HOMEMADE DISINFECTION

You can also add some lemon juice, to one part of the white distilled vinegar, and two parts of the water, about one part of the lemon juice.

( lemon juice can have the same effect as vinegar on marble and stone, not a good idea as it can really effect these materials.)

This makes a good disinfectant. We use a spray bottle, then add a label, so you can work out each product later.

INSIDER- Has “5 Natural Disinfection To Kill Germs Effectively

Though Insider say they should be left on the surfaces longer and work better after cleaning with soap and water.

They suggest using Hot Water, Some Essential Oils, Vinegar, Alcohol and Hydrogen peroxide.

( though they mention Hydrogen Peroxide it isn’t as effective as bleach.)

They do go more in-depth on how these work, of course the temp of the water is import too. Of course there are different strengths of vinegar too. In France, stronger concentrations can be purchased for garden use.

THE SPRUCE.COM has some good advice on using Vinegar to clean , also some warnings on mixing it with Bleach, which causes a bad reaction.

I have seen recently with everyone cleaning more frequently and probably more deeply than they ever have before, that using vinegar alone won’t disinfect, it will clean but it is not good enough to kill the virus that is effecting everyone at the moment.

There is a guide to GREEN DISINFECTING by OREGON ENVIROMENTAL COUNCIL

They offer alternatives to bleaching everything even in this Covid 19 time. This was only written in March this year. They offer a couple of suggestions that are a little different, Castile Soap and Bicarbonate of Soda. Of course other ideas too.

AROMA EASY have a list of essential oils that can kill germs.

Tea tree ( which I thought would be first, we have always used this oil- very careful not to use near animals)

Peppermint , Lemon, Eucalyptus, Lavender & Cinnamon

( I never realized that Cinnamon oil could be used for this) They give helpful ways of diluting and using these oils. My husband is really heavy handed with products, more isn’t always more effective!

FOR THE TOILET   

You can just add neat vinegar. I think vinegar has become my best friend! cost wise it saves a fortune.

You can also use Baking Soda with some essential oil too, Baking soda does have some abrasive qualities .

On a T.V. program ,I saw them putting down a bottle of cheap cola over night to remove stubborn stains.

There is a video below to explain how you can use this.

Another way is to sprinkle some Baking Soda around the inside of the bowl,you can then add some vinegar and let it sit a while. Tea tree is a disinfectant which can be added.

( careful using Tea tree oil if your dog drinks from the loo as it is dangerous for dogs.)

I have seen the use of Hydrogen Peroxide too, not one we have tried, as we have a septic tank, which you have to be careful with.

THE TOILET BOMB, I TRIED MAKING, AND WHAT I THINK I DID WRONG!

I saw one video that made a toilet bomb , Not to blow up your loo! But a pod that can be chucked down to react with the water, making the loo clean.

It sounded great!

I mixed the Baking soda , Citric Acid and some distilled water, you are then supposed to put the mixture in an ice cube tray or mould and leave to dry for some hours.

SO of course after reading that, I decided to add some essential oil to make them smell nice.

That, is when I ended up with mount Vesuvius coming over the sides of the mould! Perhaps I should just follow the basic recipe next time!

I couldn’t get the mix just to sit in the mould, I was afraid nothing would be left after the drying period.

They have reacted to the essential oil so much, that they now don’t react in the loo!

Oh well you learn by your mistakes.

here is a little video by Natural Ways on using coke in the toilet and other odd uses.

Not sure about it disinfecting with cola. Have you ever done the experiment with your children, where you leave a dirty penny in Coke and see just how clean it becomes? That actually put me off drinking Coke!

HOW CAN I UNBLOCK THE TOILET?

I am sure that we have all been in this situation. Totally embarrassing if you are visiting someone else. Other than being blocked with poop as the tricks and ideas below. We have had the blockage with a toilet block- the type you put into a basket hooked over the loo. Never again, that ended up in a plumbers fee! Almost a new loo needed.

I wanted to add some tricks and tips I came across today if your toilet is blocked .

I came across a great site called Sun Rise Specialty11 Excellent Tips To Unclog a Toilet With Poop In It”

I love the title, of course we have all tried some of these measures, plunger, coat hanger( plastic coated) Toilet brush .

One’s that I hadn’t come across was warm water with some dish soap( Or Shampoo), cocoa- cola and plastic wrap- cover the loo. ( 1 hr), Baking Soda ( can be done with plastic wrap too)or Baking Soda and vinegar ( I have used these for cleaning the loo, not unblocking it.

The real yucky one was use your hands! with gloves of course. Bleach was another idea but not great for the environment or a septic tank. ( more on the link)

MICROWAVES

Photo by Mike on Pexels.com

How often are microwaves forgotten in our cleaning routine, it should be easy to give them a quick wipe. When I was working in a large office, the microwave was being used all the time. The inside of it was a cure for something ! Really horrible . I think at work , people just chuck in a plate for defrosting or a quick heat up and because their food is on the plate, the worry of the cleanliness goes out the window.

So I wanted to give a few really simple and quick ideas to loosen up grease and clean the oven easily.

I am not a fan of microwaves, but I certainly have had my share of mistakes in them, then having to find some way of cleaning off the food , which I admit was more like concrete.

One mistake I made was ,to put a crushed crisps, on the outside of a chicken piece, as it doesn’t colour in the microwave.

It had spectacular results and plastered its self over the entire interior of the oven!

HOW CAN YOU CLEAN THE MICROWAVE NATURALLY?

With a heat proof glass bowl either 50/50 of water and vinegar or water and lemon juice.

Allow it to come to boiling point , the steam helps loosen and dirt, let it cool a little and then it can be wiped. You can also use a dish soap and water, using paper towels to dry it afterwards.

CLEANING BRASS 

I cook a fair bit, and have a set of those beautiful brass pans.

They are great for a bit, then the outside tarnishes fairly quickly.

An old fashioned way of cleaning I found on line, was to get some table salt and vinegar, using a cloth or sponge, dip it in the vinegar squeeze out the excess then sprinkle on salt and very gently rub the sides , its like magic ! I have seen a couple of postings not to soak the copper in the vinegar.

You can also clean brass and copper with Ketchup! Yes this was a surprise to me too. Mentioned here on Apartment Therapy

Rinse very thoroughly and buff up with a soft cloth.

How to Clean a Copper Bath ( & Can You Use Bath Salts?)

Photo by Ksenia Chernaya on Pexels.com

I have seen a couple of ideas with regards to cleaning these beautiful baths.

It is an amazing material, rust proof, mold resistant, antibacterial, they retain the heat. They are recyclable too.

If you are buying one of these, make sure that it is high quality as cheaper versions can contain other metals such as lead and mercury!

The thickness of the bath is important too, some are too thin, which could lead to the bath becoming damaged. The great thing about Copper baths is that it will keep your water warmer for longer, music to anyone who likes a good soak with a book. Though you can’t use bath salts, as it will corrode your beautiful bath.

One was a simple mild dish soap, rinsing and using a soft cloth to buff up the shine. The inside of the bath should be cleaned in the same way and it is better to wipe away the water to allow the bath to shine. Otherwise you can get a spotting effect.

Avoid anything that is abrasive in including rough cleaning cloths and sponges, as it will scratch the beautiful finish and remove the lacquer . Acidic liquids like lemon juice or vinegar can also take off the patina from the copper. I have seen some waxes suggested to protect the exterior, but I am still searching for one without toxic chemicals in.

CLEANING AN OVEN

Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. on Pexels.com

I have to say this is one job that I am not keen on doing, a lot of ovens these days have a self cleaning cycle, ours has, but  it still doesn’t get everything off .

I have seen the use of soda crystals and hot water to soak the racks in the oven for about an hour. ( Years ago my grandmother used to use soda crystals in a huge saucepan of water ,on the stove with her t-towels boiling every evening. They were snowy white, some old fashioned things work so well)

I tried yet another method that I found on the Internet the other day, this was a thick mixture of Bicarbonate of soda mixed with a little water to a paste then plastered over the interior of the oven , avoiding the electrical bits!

Then leave over night and the following day after wiping it off with a cloth, use a white vinegar solution with water to rinse off the rest. They suggested doing the glass on the door the following day.

I did find it ok, but even after I thought I had removed all the bicarbonate, after heating up the oven again, I was left with a white residue which hadn’t shown up before.

Yes I am still wiping out white residue, now on about the fourth clean!

Also with the oven, prevention is often better than cure ( or clean).

A good friend of ours, reminded me today ,about the dangers of using tin foil to line your oven to keep it clean.

LILY NICHOLS has a well written article on the dangers which most of us are totally unaware of, in using tin foil to cook with in the oven. Also Not to Use the tin foil to line your oven against spills, making it easier to clean.

She says that it can be toxic to use it in the oven ( FROM LINK )

.” Simply put, aluminum is a toxic metal with no known beneficial effects in the human body.

“The hypothesis that aluminum significantly contributes to Alzheimer’s disease is built upon very solid experimental evidence and should not be dismissed. Immediate steps should be taken to lessen human exposure to aluminum, which may be the single most aggravating and avoidable factor related to Alzheimer’s disease.” (J Alzheimers Dis, 2011)

HELLONEST 

has a NON TOXIC NO FUME OVEN CLEANER , easy to make and leave on your oven over night. They also offer many recipes for a number of DIY recipes, great site.

Finding a Non- Toxic Oven Cleaner is not an easy task – This is some of the listings on EWG but they are not great! As I find products I will of course update, have you come across any products that would be suitable? It would be great to hear from you.

You may have more luck with a degreaser –

FitCleaner and Degreaser Organic . Fit also make other products , one being a vegetable wash. FIT ORGANIC.COM

GETTING RID OF STAINS

Photo by Posawee Suwannaphati on Pexels.com

One of the first stains that I thought about was red wine, how easy does that glass go over, especially with a whole table of food around, and in our household , not much space left on the table or coffee table. Here in France it is the simple pleasure of a glass of wine with your meal.

I came across a site called La Crema ( they sell wine and have a wine club, so if anyone should have an idea on how to cope with the stains ,it is them) as they say red wine is basically a dye waiting to happen, and to clean up the wine as soon as it happens, or it will soak into the fibers of your carpet or tablecloth.

Firstly the aim is to soak up what you can before it gets worse. They suggest anything dry such as Bicarbonate of soda, soap powder, table salt, granulated hydrogen peroxide or even cat litter( that sounds a great idea- it is so absorbent) their suggestion is just to blot the stain, not rub it- I have to admit that would probably be me, its instinct just to go for it!

They say that adding white wine to the red is not a good idea! It just gets to be a bigger stain! which actually makes sense when you think about it. I have heard that one myself. Other suggestions are club soda and white vinegar, or even milk. Also oxi- cleaners as well. Another tip is washing up liquid with  hydrogen peroxide ( 20min to 1 hr)

They offer a whole list of more specialized cleaning of sofas, carpets and clothing. Really great information .

VINEPAIR also have 5 tips to get rid of red wine stains. Salt, Dawn dishwashing liquid and Hydrogen peroxide, Boiling water on a tablecloth, but the great tip is to isolate the stain by stretching it over a glass so that it doesn’t spread. White vinegar and laundry detergent on clothing. There is some discussion on a bleach product too, best to check it out.

USING ESSENTIAL OILS  

We use quite a few Essential oils in our household cleaning products, also in disinfecting.

After a friend of ours was using Tea-tree oil near one of her dogs , and the dog ending up at the vets quite ill.

We are careful what essential oil we use near them. Especially in a place where your animal can lick the area, or inhale .

There are some ideas of essential oils ,and how to be careful around animals, on the Healthy Animal part of this website.

NIFTY has some great ideas of 7 D.I.Y. household cleaners

Also a lot of the recipes for making homemade soap products use a CASTILE soap.

We are only starting out on this journey into making our own products .

I have seen the recipe, on how to make Castile soap, which is a pure soap. It does take a bit of effort and I think looking at the fumes, outside would be better.

I have also included a video made by OH, THE THINGS WE’LL MAKE  which makes this look fairly simple.

 GOING GREEN – is a site written by LISA BRONNER 

With many answered questions for anyone using this wonderful product. Lisa is an expert in how she explains everything these products can do. She is easy to listen and watch, with a clear understanding.

DR BRONNER’S range and Castille soap, how to dilute, and use these liquids correctly, so that they are more effective.

DR BRONNER’S SAL SUDS BIO DEGRADEABLE CLEANER  for use in many cleaning situations in the house very concentrated. Great reviews.

LISA BRONNER.COM has some fantastic ways you can use Dr BRONNER’S products for a whole range of cleaning and washing clothing, with ideas on how to use it in your washing machine and dealing with stains.

Lisa has a number of really informative and helpful videos on her site. Which is great, I know when we first started making out own products ,it was a bit of a walk in the dark , to what would work and the amounts to use.

Since I wrote this originally I have across another website called WELLANDGOOD.COM They are offering “14 ways how Castile Soap is as good at cleaning as baking soda is at, well everything.

( From Link)

“Use as a Dishwashing liquid, in your washing machine, washing the dog, cleaning the toilet and floor.”

Also personal care like “shaving, foot bath and cleaning your makeup brushes.”

“Mixed with baking soda as a souring mixture.”

A surprising one ,of “getting rid of bugs on your plants” ( check out the link for how to mix).

Then  to “clean pesticides or residue from fresh fruits and vegetables”

( we also use a bicarbonate in water to do this)

This Site seems to be popular too, I came across it after looking on the METRO NEWSPAPER site MRS HINCH CLEANING , she appeared on the TV program THIS MORNING.  This seems full of cleaning Hacks too.

The METRO also have an article on the ways of using Distilled Vinegar in cleaning and in your washing machine as a softener.

I have seen mixed reports of this though.

I have also come across an informative site, with some great ideas on cleaning your washing machine and how frequently this needs to be done, one of those was cleaning out the filter!

I really had to think how long ago we did that???? Stay at home mum Has many ways of dealing with all cleaning issues to do with your washing machine, top loaders and front loaders( Oh I remember those when I was living in NY, they were huge, you don’t really see anything the same in the UK or France )

From using Vinegar to Bicarbonate of soda and even clove oil if you have mould in your machine, which was a new one to me.

BICARBONATE OF SODA

I love Bicarbonate, it is so useful in cleaning and baking, an amazing product.

THIS VIDEO BY CLEAN MY SPACE IS BASED ON BICARBONATE OF SODA 

BICARBONATE OF SODA

Probably one of the all time favorites and one of the oldest ingredients for cleaning ( and cooking of course) We use this magical ingredient in so much.

Even simply sprinkling it on our white Belfast sink, this cleans it up really well.

It can be used to clean the loo ( see on the blog )

Using it to clean up your mattress, de-odorizing the fridge or a cupboard, just by leaving in a little pot.

Even adding some to water to clean chemicals from your vegetables and fruit, something we do each morning. It has amazing qualities.

Bicarbonate of Soda By NORTEMBIO this is such a great product . This is a great size container.

They also give a free leaflet with loads of ways of using it.

HEXEAL – this company has a whole list of products to use in natural cleaning including different sizes of Bicarbonate of soda. ( this was one of the issues we found, just being able to pick up a larger size container.

STEAM CLEANER 

SIMBR is a hand held one for toxic free cleaning, car carpets, bathrooms and more, it comes with a load of accessories.

We bought one of these to clean bathrooms ,without the need for using chemicals.

You do need to be careful with the temperature these cleaners get to. The first time I tried it was really scary, I was convinced that I would burn myself on the steam.

H20 has a different type which can clean floors too. A friend of ours swears by hers.

MICROFIBRE CLOTHS –

I remember when I first saw these, it seemed a strange concept then, to clean without a spray of something, now they can be used in all cleaning situations.

There is a book on THE NATURALLY CLEAN HOME , which has a load of good reviews.

THE DYNAMIC DUO a book on using both Vinegar and Bicarbonate soda in cleaning.

I remember years ago, picking up a book on using Vinegar in cleaning, and just about everything else, it was fascinating just what was possible. It really made you want to try it on everything.

THE SPRUCE.COM has a number of ideas for natural cleaning, some I have used such as lemon for cleaning cutting boards, a couple were new to me.

WASHING UP and DISHWASHER

To wash up without using the normal bottles that are in the supermarket, I know it is fairly simple to find something like an ECOVER ,BioD, Faith in Nature, who’s  brand Clear Spring can also be found on Amazon .

They cover a range of cleaning and washing products.

These can sometimes be found in supermarkets, or your local health food store, ours also has a refillable option which is much better.

Of course there is also ways of making your own washing up liquid.

This recipe I found on the  GUARDIAN newspaper website I have listed it below but you can also click into their link. It is an old copy but the recipe looks simple to make.

“3 tbsp liquid Castile soap
2 cups warm water
2 tsp glycerine
2 tbsp. white vinegar
10 drops lavender essential oil”

Mix all ingredients in a jar, cover, and shake well to blend. Use about 1 tbsp for dish washing.

I have to admit that we haven’t as yet found a recipe that works well for us.

Our water is hard and I found we didn’t get enough bubbles. Though I do realize that you don’t need these to clean, it just shows you how conditioned we are .

WASHING UP LIQUID

Another simple recipe is 1/2 a cup of Castile soap with the same 1/2 cup of water

( I tend to filter mine, and boil it so it is as near to distilled as possible. I have read that it makes the product last longer. Then add  2 TBSP of white vinegar and mix in 1 to 2/3 cups of baking soda., I then add a few drops of an essential oil like lemon or orange .)

Sometimes, I find that it doesn’t always cut the grease.

So I am going to put a few more recipes that I find here,

HELLONEST again has a recipe for DIY washing up liquid with Lavender . 

BIO D – washing up liquid ( 5 litres)

They say this is a family owned company that try to give a range of cleaning products that are kind to the environment and people. Where possible are plant based. This washing up liquid contains vegetable glycerine.

ECOVER WASHING UP LIQUID ( 5 LITRES)

This is a larger size , to save money, of course this available in smaller sizes. I just wanted a comparison to the prices of the BIO D .

Available in different scents from essential oils. This has been around for years, it was at least one that I had heard of. They also make dishwasher tablets too

SOAPNUTS  Can also be used for washing up too, another link is also found on laundry washing.

DISHWASHER

ECOVER DISHWASHER TABLETS – these are again part of the range of this long standing company. They are usually available in your local health food store.

TRI-BIO ECO NATURAL ALL IN ONE DISHWASHER TABLETS 

RINSE AID FOR DISHWASHERS BIO D RINSE AID FOR DISHWASHERS

As to the use of Distilled white vinegar, have a look at two site for their differing advice.

 USING Distilled White Vinegar. This was also mentioned on WIKIHOW 

CNET.COM  Have an article explaining why it is not a good idea to use Vinegar in your dishwasher.

I honestly have seen the use of this , everywhere on the net.

AIR FRESHENER

A simple solution to stop using these chemicals in these products 

I have seen so many associated problems with using these types of products.

CVSKINLABS have an article on 7 reasons why you shouldn’t use Febreze or other chemical air fresheners. This gave me something to think about, the advertising on these products is on TV all the time. This company based in West Palm Beach also offer an Organic skincare range.

SCIENCE DIRECT .COM have 10 questions on the chemicals and effects of AIR FRESHENERS. 

INDOOR DOCTOR.COM have advice on the plug in air fresheners and the health hazard.

I am never happy, with a load of chemicals pumping into the air! The public toilets have me holding my nose!

Have you ever like me tried holding your breath until you can quickly exit the toilet area?

Another option which a friend of ours is selling is OZOFRESH a plug in, without adding chemicals. It uses an ozone to eliminate the smells. I have put a link so that you can have a look if you are interested. I understand that he has great success even in nursing homes. There is much more information on the link

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN NATURAL AIR FRESHNERS

A really easy way is to have a clean spray bottle , adding a distilled water then adding some drops of essential oils, such as lavender or tea tree.

Another recipe that I read about in a book called ORGANIC AT HOME ( by Diana Hill) It is a bit old now, but still a very informative book.

They suggested a spray 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice in 500 ml of hot water and decanting into the spray bottle.

THE PRAIRIE HOMESTEAD.COM – They have “10 different suggestions for a homemade air freshener.

WHAT AIR FRESHENERS ARE TOXIC FREE ( TO BUY)

ACTIVATED  BAMBOO CHARCOAL AIR PURIFYING BAGS 

Chemical free and reusable.

PURE ESSENTIAL AIR SPRAY 

For air and surfaces, just essential oils a blend of 41 different oils.

Aura Cacia – produce essential oils and have a mist which can be used as air fresheners also found here

LAVENDER BAGS BY SOOTHING IDEAS

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

The old fashioned way for putting into to draws and cupboards.

Simple but beautiful, good to repel moths.

Our neighbour, had a terrible time with this problem, they stated to eat into all her expensive woollens, heart breaking.

FURNITURE   

Making your cleaning easier with more natural products like beeswax. Avoiding the chemical furniture sprays. One of the brands you see all the time is Pledge , there is a rating for some of the health concerns here on EWG . The problem with sprays are the fine mist particles that can be easily inhaled.

My gran used to use a hard lavender scented polish, It brings back memories , Lavender is such a great oil.

EARTH FRIENDLY POLISH make a natural product with Orange and Olive oils. It sounds a wonderful fragrance.

They do other products for around the house and animals called ECOS . They actually come up with a fantastic A in the EWG rating

HOMEMADE RECIPES FOR FURNITURE CLEANING 

THE SPRUCE has some great tips on natural cleaning and how to make your own furniture polish.

Photo by A

I SAW THIS VIDEO BY HOUSEHOLD HACKER with a number 100 year old solutions , these were tested again , a bit of fun but also some ideas of how to use lemon to clean your boots and milk to remove some ink stains.

over 5 million people have seen this video , must be something in it!

INSECTS & RODENTS

I don’t know what you are like with anything that crawls? I am fine with anything basically crawling around outside in the garden, but I draw the line inside our home.

Living in the countryside in France has been a very different experience. We share our garden with little lizards, deer, Owls, Birds of Prey and other wildlife. Its the first time I have lived so much in the countryside.

Recently we seemed to be bombarded by ants, both crawling and flying getting through the gaps of our patio doors. Yuk would be an under statement.

They just wouldn’t stop coming in! The flying ones seem to get everywhere. I ended up trying to get rid of them using all types of methods from white vinegar, Eco type cleaning sprays, though not a lot was working for us.

Then I came across a tip using coffee grounds around the area . Wow! is all that I can say . This totally worked for us, and so quickly too,it smelt wonderful as well.

We had some old beans and just ground them up and laid a line outside the door. Totally happy with this solution. Not using toxic chemicals that could have caused problems with our dogs.

Peppermint – Using peppermint essential oil or planting near your windows, could help to detract ants.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I have seen a few tips for using peppermint plants near the house. I have seen them recommended for keeping away mice from your home. Having wonderful peppermint plants growing close by has the extra benefit of a good cup of mint tea !