Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Alchemy #2

Hello dear ladies!

Now we come to exciting bit of green cleaning - the alchemy. I am going to give you some recipes for making your own cleaning products. As I said in a previous post I began making my own cleaning products because my boy has both eczema and asthma. Also, did you know that there are around 80,000 chemicals in use in homes and businesses and the average western woman is exposed to over 500 of them each day before she leaves the house! Chemicals such as benzene, hypochlorite, scilica and butyl are found in a wide range of cleaning products and are linked to all sorts of health problems - infertility, hormone disruption, skin and lung problems, and even cancer. In fact we don't really know what the long term effects on our health will be.

So the reasons for making cleaning products are pretty clear in terms of reducing your chemical exposure. It is also much better for the environment (bleach kills seahorses, ladies) and is cheaper too!

So here is your shopping list for the essentials that will clean everything from toilets to fridges to your precious wooden furniture.......

1. White distilled vinegar - the queen of green clean!

2. Bicarbonate of soda (I think that is baking soda in the US)

3. Borax or borax substitute

4. Essential oils - lavender and tea tree are naturally anti-bacterial; I also use lemon and sweet orange, again anti-bacterial but they also smell gorgeous.

5. Liquid castille soap

You can also add fresh lemons, 6% hydrochloric acid (a natural bleach and really good for cleaning bathroom grout!), plain old table salt and soda crystals to your list  if you wish. I tend to buy bulk order of bicarb and borax online as those titchy little tubs won't go very far! I buy the rest from local supermarkets or stores.

A word of caution here - just because a product is natural doesn't mean it is harmless. Borax especially is harmful if ingested or is in contact with the skin so please, please keep your cleaning kit out of the reach of children and pets!

Recipe #1 - general purpose cream cleanser

You will need:

A small shallow container with a lid
Bicarbonate of soda
Liquid castille soap (or environmentally friendly washing up liquid, such as Ecover)
Essential oils
Vegetable glycerin (to stop the cream from drying out)

1. Mix about 6-8 tablespoons of bicarb in your container with about 1 teaspoon of liquid soap. It should easily form a sort of paste. You don't need to be too precise about measurements - you want something that is the consistency of cream cheese so add more soap or bicarb as you need.

2. Add about 10 drops of your favourite essential oil. Tea tree is good for bathrooms, as is lavender - or you can mix them. Lemon and sweet orange are really nice for kitchens.

3. Add a teaspoon of vegetable glycerin if you plan on keeping the cleanser for more than one use. This prevents it from going hard. You can buy it from the chemist.

4. Mix it all together and apply to surfaces with a damp sponge and then rinse. It is very gentle and won't scratch and yet it cleans very well. Don't expect it to be like a shop bought cream cleanser - it won't be that smooth or fluid - but it is easy and very pleasant to use.

I use this for cleaning the kitchen surfaces, sink and taps, bathroom, doors and window sills. Once you have rinsed you can buff taps and sinks up to a spectacular shine with a soft, dry cloth.


Recipe #2 - wood cleaner

This is one of my favourite recipes. Unlike spray polish that just adds a layer of gunk to your furniture, it produces the most wonderful, deep lustre in natural wood and you will be amazed at the amount of dirt it shifts too. You will smell vinegar at first but please don't worry, it dissipates very quickly and you are left with the gorgeous smell of the essential oils.

You will need:

A small mixing bowl

1 tablespoon of olive oil

2 tablespoons of white vinegar (it really must be white distilled vinegar- this is what lifts the dirt)

A small splash of liquid soap or 'green' washing up liquid

About 8 or 10 drops of essential oil - choose whatever appeals to you. I prefer lavender.

1. Mix the ingredients in the bowl and then add tepid water to double the amount of the mixture. Mix it together and apply to the wooden surface with a soft sponge of cloth. Do this sparingly, squeezing out well before applying so as not to make the wood wet.

2. Once it is dry, buff with a soft cloth. Throw away any remaining.

As I say, the smell of vinegar will be strong only for a very short time! I would recommend you do this about twice a month.

For in between care of wooden furniture I just use a barely damp micro fibre cloth. I have a spray bottle with a few drops of essential oil and water and use this for normal dusting, squirting it sparingly on surfaces. This leaves a lovely scent.

Recipe #3 Toilet bowl cleaner

1. At night throw a cup full of bicarb down the loo and add a cup of white vinegar. It will fizz. Leave it to work over night. You can use a brush if you wish.

2. Alternatively, sprinkle borax into loo (but remember that this can cause serious skin and eye irritation so take care when using).

Once I have cleaned the toilet, I spritz it with a mixture of tea tree oil and water mixed in a spray bottle. This gives a nice scent but is also a powerful anti-bacterial. In fact, you can mix this up in a small spray bottle and use it on public toilet seats when travelling!

If you decide to give these a go I would love to hear how you get on. Or perhaps you have some alchemy you can share! I will post more recipes soon but I think these will give you a starter.

Enjoy your week! xxx


  1. This is great-thanks so much for sharing.
    I feel strongly about where you can minimising the impact on the environment of harmful products, so this is fantastic!
    You can also use bicarb as soap, or a face wash, by just making a paste with water, you can also brush your teeth with it- takes a bit of getting used to. I go through packets of bi carb like it's nobody's business.

  2. I have a terrible problem with chemicals, both in cleaning products and in perfumes, lotions and deodorants. Thank you for this way to clean with harsh chemicals. My lungs thank you too!

  3. Thanks for these...can't wait to make my cleaning a little bit healthier for everyone :)x

  4. Wow!! So many ideas here. I'm going to try the furniture polish this weekend.
    Think il try rose oil.
    Thanks Andrea.

  5. I have got most of the ingredients at the ready, I just have to get my hands on some Castile soap, it sounds wonderful stuff. Have you any idea were I can buy pure Olive castile in GB? most seem to use Coconut oil as a substitute.

  6. Interesting, I like the sound of the wood polish, may give my banisters a treat sometime...

  7. I often use bicarb and vinegar to get pans/flasks/sinks clean would never have thought of the toilet though. great tips

  8. Great! Thanks for those.

  9. Some great cleaning recipes, I'll have to give them a try.

  10. Surfing the crochet blogs and ran across yours:)Great post,thanks so much.I've been making my own cleaners too.My oldest Daughter has asthma and strong scents trigger migraines for me.I make our laundry detergent also.1 cup fels-naptha(laundry bar soap)or any bar(bath) soap without purfumes,grated,half cup of borax and half cup washing soda.mix well,shake before each use and use 1-2 tablespoons per load for h.e.(front load washers)or quarter cup for older washers. works great.For fabric softner,quarter cup vinegar in rinse water.Baking soda makes a great deodorant,mix with few drops of water and apply.tipnut.com has loads of homemade cleaners, hope this helps:)

  11. 500 before leaving the house! Oh my word! I think I should start using your recipes. Trip to the chemist for me for ingredients I think.

    I'll have to tell my friend who does cleaning as she has allergies.

    How are you doing my love? You sound pretty chirpy here but I know that blogs can be as chirpy as you like and hide the flatness. I hope you are feeling good. Truly I do. I'm feeling less rageful lately, which is a relief, though I feel like my shine hasn't returned yet.


  12. Hello! Just like the comment above, I stumbled across you from some other crochet blog, but coincidentally I have been also looking for cleaners to make myself, so I am doubly happy I stumbled!
    Also although I now live in Berkshire I am from Yorkshire - I think it is the Best County in the country!
    Have a lovely day and please make time to pop in at my new blog :0)
    Val xx Berkshire

  13. Val again ..... sorry my blog ....


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