Following some reader suggestions, I have decided to share some natural cleaning products that I use in my home. Most of the ingredients, you will probably already have but perhaps for a different purpose. Nothing I share with you today is any harder than grabbing a bottle of chemical off of the supermarket shelf. In fact, if you were to pop to the shop just for that washing up liquid – this is a million times easier! The hardest thing here is boiling a pan of water – I think you guys can manage that!
Not only are these cleaning solutions super easy, they are incredibly cheap. I purchased a 1kg bag of soapnuts from Amazon in May for less than £10 and I’ve probably used 1/16th of the bag. Honestly, they go amazingly far! The same shells can be used 4 times and then they still have life in them after that to be turned into an abrasive paste cleaner for a gentle yet effective scrub for burnt on food, grease or bathroom stains. I buy all the products in bulk from Amazon which is cheaper.
Natural cleaning is also so much kinder to you, your home, your family, your hard earned furniture and belongings, the environment – our home planet and all the creatures who share it with you. I recall buying an oven cleaner that nearly blew my head off with ultra strong, chemical fumes. It was and is so unnecessary. Why don’t we all use vinegar and lemon juice to clean? I don’t know for sure but I guess it’s because of the ease and cheapness of mass producing chemicals, business growth and a consumer population that believes s/he needs that product that promises to make life so much easier. It was only after the Second World War that chemical cleaning took over the natural cleaners our world has to offer – but there’s no point having a booming economy with no world to economise in.
It’s nothing new that modern chemicals are playing a huge part in human and environmental ill health and an article I found dated July/August 1990 highlighted this. That was written exactly 23 years ago, before hundreds of toxic, synthetic chemicals were even created. I would love to know what Ann Larkin-Hanson is saying now.
Probably most importantly for me, none of these homemade products caused an innocent, helpless, voiceless, fully sentient animal to suffer. The only place these ingredients were tested were by our ancestors in their limited kitchens.
In the event that I use a store bought cleaner, (if my products just aren’t working on something or I’ve run out of a key ingredient that I can’t buy locally or I’m not at home) I buy products that are certified not tested on animals – the finished product and it’s ingredients and is vegan. The brands I usually buy are Method which is also non toxic and natural and Co-op’s on brand products, but there are tonnes more at affordable prices such as Superdrug’s own range.
So, here is a list of all you could ever need to naturally, cheaply, kindly and safely clean your whole home and more:
Bicarbonate of soda
Coarse salt (kosher or rock salt)
Soap nuts (Sapindus Mukorossi):
Soap nuts are the most natural surfactant there is. Soap nuts grow on trees in India and Nepal and the shells contain “Saponin” which is a natural soap. The shells tend to come in bags of half shells.
The soap nut shells release the saponin when they come into contact with water. They are most widely used for laundry washing. They break down the surface tension of the water and oil in the wash reducing the surface tension of the water aiding it in freeing dirt, grime and oils from clothes. Essentially this is how chemical detergents clean our clothes…but now you can do it without chemicals!¹
To use soap nuts for your laundry simply place 5-7 half shells in a drawstring bag (they usually come with the soap nuts) or a sock, tied at the end. Place on top of the clothes in the drum, add a few drops of essential oil to the dispenser drawer if you wish and wash as normal.
Adjust the amount of nuts you use based on your water, load size and the dirtiness of your load. Bear in mind soap nuts are fabulous for cleaning but not great at removing tough stains. I add soda crystals to help on stains and on dulling whites.
|Temperatures in °Celcius||Dosage in Half Shells|
|Soft Water||Hard Water|
|30° to 40°||5 Half Shells||6 to 7 Half Shells|
|60° to 95°||3 Half Shells||4 to 5 Half Shells|
(dosage info from http://www.salveo.co.uk)
You don’t need to add a fabric softener as soap nuts do this for you as well as cleaning your clothes! Unless you have used a hot wash, you can reuse the same nuts up to three times effectively, I wash at 30’C and use them four times in total for standard washing. I use fresh nuts for towels, very dirty or stained items and tea towels.
You can use soap nut liquid also (see recipe below). Add 1 cup/250ml of the liquid to the dispenser drawer.
Soap nuts can also be used in shell form in your dishwasher. Simply add 5 shell halves to the cutlery rack and wash as normal. They will be effective for just one wash and you need to ensure you rinse the dishes before dishwashing as the nuts are not great at removing very dried on or burnt on foods. I find this is also the case with commercial dishwasher tablets anyway.
For the most varied use of soap nuts, you need to make soap nut liquid. This is incredibly easy and quick. I simply add a handful, about 10-15 half shells to a pan and cover with a litre of hot tap water. Bring to a boil then simmer for ten minutes. Remove from the heat, cool, strain and you have basic soap nut liquid that can be used in so many ways and in so many places.
If you prefer, strain the liquid through muslin to remove any sediment that will make the liquid a little cloudy eventually, I don’t bother with this as it’s only a visual issue, it doesn’t affect the cleaning quality.
Use the liquid straight to dust and polish furniture, wash your car, clean door frames and skirting boards or add to your laundry loads as above.
Make surface sprays for the kitchen, bathroom and all purpose by adding 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to a spray bottle and a few drops of essential oil then filling with the soap nuts liquid, give a little shake and you’re good to go! Add this mixture to a bucket of hot water or steam mop dispenser to clean and polish floors.
Make a washing up liquid as above for surface sprays in a washed out washing up liquid bottle. Use lemon juice instead of vinegar and a little lemon zest (or lemon essential oil) for a squeaky clean, citrus fresh finish.
Make a handwash by adding an essential oil to the basic liquid and adding to a cleaned out handwash pump bottle. The most effective are the foam pumps as the hand wash is very liquid.
Use the basic liquid to wash your pets, just be careful to not let them drink it or get it into their eyes to avoid an upset tummy and irritated eyes.
Add 2 cups/500ml of the liquid to a sink of water to soak non organic fruit and vegetables to remove any nasty pesticide residues. This is great as you no longer need to peel the skin off where most nutrients are found. Make sure you rinse well before using.
When your soap nuts have done their job in the laundry or being boiled up, save them in a bowl or jar then when you have enough, grind them up in a food processor to a paste. Use this as a gentle abrasive cleaner for burnt on foods and the like or use as a soft hand and body scrub, adding your favourite essential oil.
Add to soap nut liquid for a smear free finish and for its degreaser qualities.
Add straight to your rinse aid dispenser in your dishwasher.
Make a vinegar solution spray to clean glass and mirrors without a smear in sight. Simply add half water, half vinegar to a spray bottle and use kitchen paper or a cloth to wipe.
Pour down smelly drains and plugholes with bicarbonate of soda to eliminate odours (see below).
Make a daily shower spray to remove soap scum from shower walls and doors and bath tubs, making it easier to fully clean. Simply spray after each use. Use a mixture of half lemon juice, half water.
Add to your hair after washing to add shine, then rinse.
Bicarbonate of Soda:
Remove odours naturally. Place a small bowl full, perhaps mixed with some lavender buds in cupboards, around the home or in the fridge.
Make a paste by adding water a drop at a time to bicarbonate of soda and use to clean the fridge, sink, hob, washing machine door rubber rim and toilet bowl.
Put 2 tablespoons down drains and plugholes with 4 tablespoons of white vinegar to remove odours. Leave to work for about 10 minutes or longer before pouring in hot water.
Clean the inside of your oven door. Spray the door with water then sprinkle bicarbonate over and repeat, it should look pasty. Leave overnight then wipe with a sponge, scrubbing any stubborn areas.
Freshen carpets. Sprinkle bicarbonate of soda on your carpets every now and again, leave for ten minutes before hoovering.
Freshen the bin. Sprinkle a layer in the base of your bin to absorb odours.
Sprinkle in litter trays before adding litter to absorb odours.
Use as a dry pet shampoo, massage the powder into the fur, avoiding the eyes, ears and nose then brush through. Great for pets who hate water!
Use as toothpaste. Add peppermint essential oil and drops of water to make a paste. Just as Arm and Hammer do but without the extra ingredients and the price!
Soda Crystals, Borax, Coarse Salt and Citric Acid:
Use to make dishwasher powder. Keep in separate tubs next to your dishwasher. Add a tablespoon each of soda crystals and borax and a teaspoon each of salt and citric acid to the powder dispenser for each cycle.
Some essential oils that are great for their antibacterial, disinfectant qualities and great fragrance;