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Go green as you clean

Is your cleaning really as clean as you think it is? In the battle to keep your living space clean and healthy, are you using conventional cleaning products with caustic and toxic ingredients? They can be just as harmful as the grime and bacteria they’re meant to eliminate.


Whether you’re shopping for prepared natural cleaning solutions or making your own, keep in mind that the word “aromatherapy” is now being applied to everything scented - from dishwashing liquid to laundry detergent. The true practice of aromatherapy relies on using pure essential oils extracted from plants. These natural plant essences nurture us on mental, emotional, physical and even spiritual levels.

While house cleaning isn’t exactly a spiritual exercise, adding the effects and properties of essential oils to your homemade household products can enhance the experience and the effectiveness of your task.





Essential oils have potent antimicrobial effects along with their clean, pleasant natural aromas. Here are a few“classic” homecare essential oils:

Lemon (clean, sweet, uplifting scent; deodorizing),
Peppermint (minty, fresh; air purifier; mild pest repellent),
Eucalyptus and Tea Tree (air and surface sanitizers; fresh, therapeutic aromas).

You can also use this shopping list of key ingredients for making your own homecare products:

* Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) - Gently abrasive scouring powder, odour absorber and an excellent base for making your own cleaning preparations.

* Washing soda (sodium carbonate)

* Borax (sodium borate) - Natural mineral compound, laundry booster, multipurpose cleanser, fungicide/insecticide.

* White distilled vinegar (acetic acid)

* Liquid soap (sodium hydroxide) - Choose from vegetable oil-based soaps such as olive oil or sweet almond.

* Distilled water - Clean, distilled water acts as a better carrier and dirt solvent. Tap water will often contain salts and minerals that can lead to spotting and build-up.

Essential oils

Follow these recipes for making your own basic homecare products:

Gentle scouring cream
1/2 cup baking soda
Liquid soap
18 drops essential oil

Add essential oils to baking soda and blend. Next, incorporate the liquid soap, several drops at a time, until a creamy paste forms.

Window cleaner
2 cups water
3 tablespoons vinegar
1/4 teaspoon liquid soap
36 drops essential oil

Wooden furniture polishing oil
3 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoon jojoba oil
10 drops lemon essential oil

Carpet deodorizing powder
1 cup baking soda
18 drops essential oil

Carpet cleaner
1 cup baking soda
1 teaspoon liquid soap
18 drops essential oil

Microwave cleaner
It’s easy to clean baked-on food and spills from you microwave! Partially fill a measuring jug or coffee cup with water and add a slice of lemon. Boil the water for a minute, and then leave the door closed and let the steam loosen the mess. After 10 minutes, open the door and wipe away the grease.

Homemade leather conditioner
1 teaspoon of household ammonia 4 teaspoons of white vinegar, 2 cups water. Mix ingredients together. Apply mixture, dry with a soft cloth, and then wipe on castor oil, using a soft cloth. Rub on leather shoe cream in the appropriate colour. Buff well. Or try a solution of two parts linseed oil and one part vinegar – test on a hidden area first to be safe.

Restore the shine to a roasting pan
Mix bicarbonate soda and distilled white vinegar into a thick paste. Apply to the stain with a kitchen cloth and scrub in a circular motion, adding more vinegar if the paste becomes too dry. It does take time, but the results are more than rewarding. Follow with a rinse in warm water and towel dry.

Remove coffee and tea stains from cups
Squeeze a wedge of lemon into the cup and fill with boiling water. Leave to soak overnight, then empty. Wrap a damp cloth around your finger, dip it into some sodium bicarbonate and rub the stains in a circular motion.

Deodorise your dishwasher
Cut a lemon in half, remove the pips and skewer the cut side of each portion onto the spikes of the upper plate rack or place in a muslin or cotton bag. Once the cycle is finished, remove the lemon halves and admire the miracle of citric acid at work. The same process done once a month – without dishes – will help to keep your dishwasher fresh.

Remove rust from kitchen utensils
Happy campers will know that sometimes utensils will get slightly rusty. To remove rust from knives or other kitchen utensils, stick them in an onion for about an hour. Move the blade back and forth to help the onion juice do its work.

Old toothbrushes for cleaning
Don't throw away your old toothbrush, use it to get into small areas for cleaning. Use around bathroom taps to remove built up grime. Clean tile grouth with a paste of sodium bicarbonate and refresh and whiten.

Keep old sock for a cleaning mit
Great for occasional dusting around the house. Pop your hand into the sock and wipe away dust from large surfaces. Also great for dusting delicate items - hold it in your hand while you dust. Use for dusting Venetian - wood and aluminium blinds.

Home made air freshner
Don't fill the air in the your home with chemicals. Making your own room freshner is a breeze. Use the juice of three lemons and a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and fill with water. For a longer lasting spray, add several drops of lemon essential oil to a bottle of distilled water.

Non-toxic cleaner for nursery
Make an anti-bacterial spray with grapefruit seed extract (available at health food stores). It's a safe and effective way to sterilise toys, change areas and just about anywhere your little ones can get their hands on. Add 1/2 cup of grapefruit seed extract to 500ml of warm water and place in a spray bottle. Make a fresh batch every time you wish to clean!



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