Some Basics for Chemical Free Cleaning

Chemical-Free-CleaningThe chemical revolution didn’t start in earnest until after world war II.  That is only 68 years ago, less than a lifetime, but  every body alive today carries the burden of these chemicals. Chemicals are now reaching us before we’re even born, with researchers finding a plethora of contaminants in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies. There seems to be no escaping it.

The effects on health and environment of these chemicals has  undergone little or no testing and certainly not in the area of collective and accumulative effects of chemical toxicity.

Did you know that literally thousands of chemicals are allowed in your cleaning products?  The chlorine routinely used as a disinfectant in municipal water systems, is toxic, even at low concentrations.

Using typical household ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice for cleaning, is a good place to start lessening this chemical load, and save money at the same time.

Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a commonly available mineral made from soda ash, and is slightly alkaline with a pH of about 8.3 – 7 being neutral. It neutralizes acid-based odors and will eliminate perspiration and many other odors.  Sprinkled on a damp sponge or cloth, or a simple paste of baking soda and water applied to sponge or cloth, it is used as a gentle non-abrasive cleanser to clean bench-tops, tiles, stove-top, bath, sink, inside fridge and much more and replaces a range of commercial cleaners.

I have written about the many uses of Baking Soda here Baking Soda for a Natural Clean  and here Baking Soda for a Natural Clean 2  and here Baking Soda for Personal Care

Washing Soda (sodium carbonate) can be made by heating a 1/2″ layer of baking soda in a glass baking dish in a 200 o C or 400 o F oven for about 30 minutes. It changes the molecular structure from NaHCO3 to Na2CO3. To test for change place a small amount of baking soda in a small bowl and a small amount of washing soda in a separate bowl. Put a few drops of lemon juice on each. The baking soda will fizz, but the washing soda will foam and turn bright yellow. Be careful handling the washing soda, and don’t taste it, it is highly alkaline, therefore caustic, with a pH around 11. It releases no harmful fumes and is far safer than a commercial solvent formula. Washing soda cuts through grease, disinfects, softens water and neutralizes odors. You may, like myself, find it easier to purchase your washing soda at the supermarket.               Caution – Don’t use it on fiberglass, aluminum or waxed floors—unless you intend to remove the wax.

Both Baking Soda and Washing Soda are in My Natural Homemade Laundry Powder Recipe. 

Soaps  and detergents are not the same. Soap is made using fat/oil and lye, while detergents are chemically based synthetic cleaners.

White Vinegar (acetic acid, pH about 2.3) and Lemon Juice (citric acid, pH about 2) are acidic—they neutralize alkaline substances such as scale from hard water. White vinegar kills mildew and removes grease build up. It is also great for cleaning glass and mirrors. Lemon juice is one of the strongest food-acids. Use it to kill virtually any household bacteria in kitchens and bathrooms.

I add lemon skins to my bottle of white vinegar, and let them steep, to increase the cleaning effect of the vinegar – and the fragrance. They work really well together.

Here are some other uses for vinegar: Vinegar for a Natural Clean and More Uses for Vinegar

Mould is being called “the asbestos of a new generation”. Buildings today are much more ‘air tight’ than they were, helping to create ideal conditions for mould to flourish.

Mould is toxic, and dangerous. Growing research into mould has found its impact on health is so much more than just triggering asthma attacks, respiratory irritation, runny noses and allergic reactions.

Bleach merely bleaches mould so you can’t see it, but it doesn’t kill the root system and the mould will grow back.

Straight vinegar reportedly kills 82% of mould. The mould feeds off the vinegar to the extent where the cells actually burst. Add to this the strong fungicide action of clove or tea tree oil and you have a safe but powerful eliminator of mould.

Prepare a solution of white vinegar with clove oil or tea tree oil (approx. 1 teaspoon of oil to 1 litre of vinegar). Wear protective clothing, such as rubber gloves and apply the solution to the mouldy area gently with a sponge or mop. Spraying is not advised as it can cause spores to become airborne and spread to other locations. Allow the vinegar solution to stay in contact with the surface for at least 15 minutes or more. Ensure the treated area dries out as moulds will regrow if the surface remains damp.

Untitled-2Shared on: Wildcraft Wednesday, Old-Fashioned Friday, From the Farm, Simple Saturday, Simply Natural Saturday, Natural Living Monday,



Natural Homemade Laundry Powder

Laundry-PowderDo you know what is in commercial laundry detergents and what effect they have on your health and the environment? Detergents in all forms – liquids, cakes or powders – are mistakenly accepted as safe, but more and more research is finding they are anything but safe for your health or our environment.

Making your own All Natural Laundry Powder is a breeze and you will know for sure what is in it. This is yet another way you can reduce toxins in the home and save money at the same time.

This is what is in my Homemade Laundry Powder:

Baking Soda – (Sodium Bicarbonate) helps remove stains and any odor. It is gentler on delicate fabrics than Borax.

Washing Soda – (Sodium Carbonate or Soda Ash) helps remove stains and grease as well as softening the water. It can even work as a fixative for some natural dyeing techniques.

Soap – (Plain Soap Bar like Sunlight) cleans

Citric Acid – helps break down grease and stains and is a natural bleaching agent, color brightener and water softener.

Borax –  stain removal, and can also be used on whites as an alternative to bleach. (This can be left out if you prefer to go Borax free and more Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda) added in its place) Soap-&-Laundry-Powder My Natural Homemade Laundry Powder Recipe:

1 cup Washing Soda

1 cup plain soap grated or powdered

½ cup Borax

¼ cup Baking Soda

¼ cup citric Acid


1. First slice the bar of soap, using a sharp knife, into smaller pieces. Then put the soap pieces into the blender and blend on high to get it as close possible to powder form. If you haven’t got a blender, you can hand grate the soap as fine as you can. The finer the soap is ground or grated the easier it will dissolve during washing. I wash in cold water so this is quite important to me.

Powdered Plain Bar Soap

Powdered Plain Bar Soap

2. I then mix all the ingredients together and put them in an air tight jar or container ready for use.

3. I use a third of a cup of powder for a load of washing.

4. I often turn my washing machine off part way through the wash cycle for an hour or even ten hours, to let it soak before turning the machine back on to complete the wash cycle. This gives time for the cleaning ingredients to gently get in for a cleaner wash.

All Natural Fabric Softener:

I put 1/3 cup of vinegar in the last rinse cycle to act as a fabric softener. It also removes any soap residue that may still be in the fabric and makes sure the ph level has returned to a balanced level.  My clothes don’t smell of vinegar because any vinegar smell doesn’t linger for more than a minute in clothes.

Have you ever used this recipe?

4 cups Lux Pure Soap Flakes

1 cup Methylated Spirits

1 cup Eucalyptus Oil

Combine and store in a jar.

My mother did and although it is a mix for washing woolens (and seemingly doesn’t need to be rinsed out after washing) she also used it in her washing machine for very dirty, greasy or oily clothes and it worked amazingly well.

What is your favorite Natural Laundry product? Untitled-2 Shared on: From the Farm, Old Fashioned Friday, Simple Saturday, Simply Natural Saturday, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Thrifty Thursday,

Baking Soda for a Natural Clean 2

IMG_2649Household cleaning products are a big source of toxic overload in our bodies and our environment. Turning to safer, more natural alternatives, such as Baking Soda, is a very good way to help improve personal and environmental health, become more sustainable and save money as well. It is totally a win, win situation!

Continuing with the series on this wonderful, cheap and very versatile product, let us now take a look at Baking Soda as a deodorizer and some uses for Baking Soda around the home. You can see part one about Baking Soda in the home here and part three about Baking Soda in personal care here.


Air freshener – Ironically, most air fresheners on the market are full of toxic chemicals that shouldn’t be breathed. Here is a safe and healthy one you can use. Mix 1 tablespoon Baking Soda with a few drops of essential oil. Add to a spray bottle and fill with water.

Dishwasher – Sprinkle Baking Soda in the bottom of your dishwasher before your next load to get rid of odors.

Refrigerator – Place an open box of Baking Soda in the back of your refrigerator to help neutralize odors. Just be sure to change the box every couple of months.

Cutting Boards – Sprinkle the cutting board with Baking Soda, scrub, rinse.

Remove Odors from Your Hands – Simply rub your hands with Baking Soda and water to get rid of strong odors like garlic or onion.

Garbage Bins – Simply sprinkle some Baking Soda on the bottom of your rubbish bin to help keep bad smells away.

Garbage Disposals & Drains – To help eliminate odors slowly pour ½ cup Baking Soda down your drain while simultaneously running warm water to flush it down. (you can use the Baking Soda that has previously been used to soak up odours in the fridge or elsewhere in the home)

Clothes Closet – Place an open box of Baking Soda on the shelf in your closet to keep odors at bay and to freshen the air and fabrics.

Carpet Deodorizer – Sprinkle Baking Soda on your carpet and let sit overnight. Sweep up what you can and then use a vacuum to suck up the rest.

Vacuum Cleaner – sucking up the Baking Soda from the carpet will also have the effect of deodorizing the vacuum cleaner.

Litter Boxes – Cover the bottom of the litter tray with Baking Soda, then fill as usual with litter. To freshen between changes, sprinkle Baking Soda on top of the litter after a thorough cleaning.

Pet’s Beds – Safely deodorize your pet’s bedding by sprinkling with Baking Soda. Wait at least 15 minutes, then vacuum.

Dog – Between your dog’s baths, try a dry freshen-up, by sprinkling Baking Soda into their fur, rub and then comb or brush out.

Shoes or Sneakers – Shake Baking Soda into smelly shoes/sneakers when not in use and shake it out before you next wear them.

Sports gear – Use 4 tablespoons of Baking Soda in 1 litre of warm water to clean and deodorize. Sprinkle Baking Soda into a sports bag to deodorize.

Car – Odours can settle into car upholstery and carpet, so sprinkle the fabric and carpet with Baking Soda and leave overnight. Vacuum out the next day for a fresh, clean fragrance.

Uses Around the Home

Remove Oil and Grease – Sprinkle Baking Soda on top of oil and grease stains in your garage or driveway. Scrub with a wet brush and rinse clean.

Cleaning the BBQ – After the family BBQ, Baking Soda will make light work of cleaning the grill. Just sprinkle on, scrub with a damp brush and rinse clean.

Clean Car Batteries – Baking Soda can be used to neutralize battery acid corrosion in cars. Be sure to disconnect the battery terminals before cleaning. Use a past of 3 tablespoons of Baking Soda and one tablespoon of water, and apply with a damp cloth to scrub the corrosion off. Wipe them with petroleum jelly to prevent future corrosion once you have reconnected the terminals.

Clean Cars – Use Baking Soda in a solution of ¼ cup Baking Soda in one litre of warm water, to clean your car lights, chrome, windows, tires, floor mats etc. For stubborn dirt and marks, sprinkle Baking Soda directly on a damp cloth and rub.

Unclog Drains – When combined with vinegar, it can be used as an all-natural drain cleaner. Simply put around three quarters of a cup of Baking Soda down the drain and then pour half a cup of vinegar down the drain. Place the drain plug in the drain hole for 30 minutes. After that, pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain and you should find that the drain is unclogged. If not, try repeating the process.

Camping – Baking Soda can be used to wash the dishes, as a pot scrubber, hand cleaner, deodorant, toothpaste, fire extinguisher to name a few, making it very useful to take with you on your next camping trip.

Fire Extinguisher – when Baking Soda is heated it gives off Carbon Dioxide, thus helping to starve the flames of oxygen, and helping to smother the flames. This, of course, can only be used on very small fires, by throwing handfuls of Baking Soda at the base of the flame (after making sure the gas or electricity has been turned off in the case of small cooking fires)

Septic Systems – Regular use of Baking Soda in your drains will help keep your septic system healthier, but an extra cup of Baking Soda can be added once a week to help maintain an even more favorable pH.

Polish Silver – a simple paste of 3 parts Baking Soda to 1 part water can be rubbed onto silver ware with a clean cloth or sponge. Rinse and dry, and enjoy the shine!

Keep Ants Out – Mix up equal parts of Baking Soda and salt together. Then, sprinkle the mixture wherever you see the ants coming in. This will also help with cockroaches.

Eliminate Moisture – Place a bowl of Baking Soda anywhere there is a moisture problem. The Baking Soda will absorb the moisture in the air.

Keep Flowers Fresher Longer – Keep cut flowers fresher longer by adding a teaspoon of Baking Soda to the water in the vase.

Wash Produce – Baking Soda is a food safe way to clean dirt and residue off your produce. Mix a quarter of a cup of Baking Soda in a sink full of water. Wash your fruits and vegetables in the solution, then rinse with clean water.

Make Self-Raising Flour – To make 1 cup self-raising flour, you will need 1 cup plain flour and 2 teaspoons of Baking Powder – see recipe below.

Make Baking Powder – A more natural, aluminum free, Baking Powder can be made using 2 parts Cream of Tartar, 1 part Baking Soda, 1 part rice flour or arrowroot flour (measured by volume).

Baking Soda is such an amazing product isn’t it. And good for the budget, health and the environment too!


Baking Soda for a Natural Clean

Baking-SodaFor generations Baking Soda (also known as sodium bicarbonate – its official name or bi-carb soda) has been used for cooking, cleaning, 1st aid, personal care and deodorizing. Baking Soda is made from soda ash which occurs naturally in our environment. The soda ash is mined and then refined to form a safe, pure product. Its high performance in cleaning and deodorizing comes from its ability to regulate pH levels. When Baking Soda comes in contact with either an acidic or an alkaline substance, it naturally neutralizes the pH.
Environmentally friendly and budget-priced, baking soda is a ‘Must Have’ product for your home. You’ll be amazed at its countless uses as an effective, no-fuss alternative to expensive, over- packaged and toxic products.

When I first started making my transition to natural cleaners and toxic-free personal care products I was amazed at how few ingredients I really needed. Baking Soda was one of them. I would like to encourage everyone to explore some of the many uses for this very versatile, cheap and safe product. Because it is a safe product you can’t really go wrong with amounts and proportions (except when you’re baking!)

It is still wise to test on a small, out-of-the-way area of the product you intend cleaning first. So you know for sure!

Have A Naturally Clean Home using Baking Soda

Clean Kitchen – Clean chopping boards, stainless steel sinks, ovens and range hoods with food safe Baking Soda sprinkled on a damp cloth. When mixed with equal parts of water, it can be used as a gently, scratch-free, abrasive cleaner.

Chopping Boards – Sprinkle a cut lemon with some Baking Soda and rub on your wood cutting board to remove those stubborn stains.

Freshen Sink Drains – By slowly pouring half a cup Baking Soda down the drain together with warm tap water.

Cut Grease Naturally – Baking Soda helps cut grease and makes it easier to clean. Add  Baking Soda to your normal dish washing liquid and let soak for a while.

Oven Grime – For stubborn oven grime, apply a paste made from Baking Soda and water to a warm oven, leave overnight and wipe off the next day.  Also you can sprinkle Baking Soda over the bottom surface of your oven. Spray with a water bottle to dampen the Baking Soda. Let this mixture sit overnight and then scrub in the morning. Rinse thoroughly.

Dirty Saucepans – For dirty saucepans that don’t respond to regular cleaning, add cold water and one to two tablespoons of Baking Soda and bring to the boil. When cool, finish off with a scourer. Or alternately sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of pots with burnt on food, fill with hot water and soak overnight. Scrub clean the next day.

Hand Washing the Dishes – Add 2 heaped tablespoons of Baking Soda as well as your dish detergent to the water in the sink to help cut through any grease or baked on food. Let them soak a little, then add some extra Baking Soda to any tough dirt and use it as a non-scratch scourer.

Clean Dishwasher – Throw a handful of Baking Soda into the bottom of the dishwasher mid-way between loads – this will eliminate odours and work double-duty as a gentle cleanser in the next wash cycle.

Clean Coffee and Tea Pots – Remove stains and bitter residue using a solution of ¼ cup of Baking Soda in a litre of warm water, soak overnight if necessary. Or for really stubborn stains, make a paste using Baking Soda, salt and a little liquid dish soap. Let it soak for a few minutes, then scrub off.

Stained Cups – Restore life to stained tea/coffee cups – apply Baking Soda to a damp cloth and rub away.

Bathroom surfaces – Sprinkle some Baking Soda on a damp cloth or directly onto bathtubs, sinks, or tile and then wipe with a clean damp cloth. Rinse and dry. Or use a pre mixed paste for those tougher cleaning jobs. Make a paste using baking soda, salt and a little liquid dish soap. Let it soak for a few minutes, then scrub off.

Shower Doors – Remove water spots from shower doors by wiping down with baking soda sprinkled on a damp sponge.

Toilets – Stubborn toilet stains can be cleaned by sprinkling into the toilet, 1 cup of baking soda and allowing to sit for 30 minutes. Spray with vinegar then scrub.

Clean Floors – Use ½ a cup of Baking Soda in a bucket of warm water – mop floors, then rinse clean. For stubborn scuff marks you may need a cloth with Baking Soda on it to wipe them off.

Clean Furniture – Baking Soda on a damp cloth will clean furniture. Wipe off with a clean, dry cloth.

Clean Crayons from Walls – Apply baking soda to a slightly wet cloth and rub lightly. Wipe off with a clean, dry cloth.

Baking Soda in the Laundry

Fresh Sheets – Add half a cup Baking Soda to the laundry rinse cycle to give towels and linens a breezy freshness.

Fabric Softener – A 1/2 cup of Baking Soda added to the rinse cycle of your wash acts as a natural fabric softener.

Nappy Cleaner – Use Baking Soda as a pre-soaker for soiled nappies, removing mould or stubborn stains. Dissolve ¼ – ½ cup Baking Soda in a bucket of warm water, let soak, wash in hot soapy water and dry in the sun.

Whiter Whites – Add 2 teaspoons of Baking Soda to half a bucket of cold water. Soak 30 minutes then wash as normal.

Clean Baby Clothes – Odor and stain fighters are often harsh chemicals, so add ½ a cup of Baking Soda to your laundry detergent for tougher stains and for the odors add ½ a cup of Baking Soda to the rinse cycle.

Boost Laundry Detergent – Adding 1/2 cup of Baking Soda to your laundry water helps soften the water making clothes cleaner, fresher, softer and also makes your laundry detergent go further!

Stuffed Toys – Freshen stuffed toys with a sprinkling of Baking Soda. Wait 15 minutes, brush off.

Clean Kids Toys – Clean kids’ toys by soaking or wiping down with a solution of Baking Soda and water. Rinse, dry and they are ready for play.

See some of the many uses of Baking Soda around the home and as a deodorizer   here  

Who would have thought that Baking Soda was such a useful, ‘Must Have’ product!


Untitled-2Shared on: Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Old-Fashioned Friday, Small Footprint Friday

More uses for Vinegar:

IMG_2574There are many. many uses for vinegar, so here are some more uses for vinegar around the home.

Deodorizing: Pour equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray as necessary to ‘clear the air’. As the acid odour of the vinegar dissipates it will take with it all other odours. Add a little fragrance – such as a few drops lavender oil to enhance the vinegar odour.

Disinfecting: Vinegar is a mildly acidic antibacterial agent, making it ideal as a disinfectant. Half fill a plastic bottle (recycled) with cheap (white) vinegar. Fill the remainder of the bottle with water. Add ten drops eucalyptus or lavender oil and put the lid on and shake to mix.

Fabric Softener: Vinegar will soften and deodorize clothes. Simply add half a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle in place of fabric softener. An added advantage is that vinegar also helps to break down laundry detergent or washing powder, making it excellent for people who are allergic to the smallest amount of chemical residue on their skin. Vinegar in the final laundry rinse also helps eliminate fluff.

Handyman: Use vinegar to clean paint brushes, loosen rusty nails or screws, rejuvenate leather and moisten dried glue.

Insect Repellent: Wipe vinegar on the skin to deter insects. They don’t like the smell or the taste.

Laundry detergent: Vinegar can be used in place of laundry detergent. Just add two cups of vinegar to your wash. Or a cup of vinegar in the washing machine will greatly reduce the need for laundry powder.

Washing Machine Cleaner: It is amazing how much gunk and washing powder residue runs out of the washing machine hoses when about 1 cup of vinegar is poured into the machine during the washing cycle at the same time you add the soap powder.

Weed-killer: Just spray vinegar at weekly intervals until the weeds turn brown and die off. For a stronger weed killer mix 2 cups salt + 2 ltrs vinegar + a little dish washing liquid in a spray bottle. Spray it on as you would the straight vinegar.

Use cheap white vinegar for cleaning purposes.


Vinegar for a Natural Clean

IMG_2569Many commercial cleaning products contain hazardous chemicals. More and more people are becoming aware of how sick these pollutants are making us and our environment. The overwhelming message in advertising is ‘Only this or that commercial product will clean your home properly, or wash your clothes properly. We are led to believe that clean laundry has a certain fragrance, and that a clean house will smell in a particular way too.

These days, it seems there are so many different cleaning products available for every cleaning job in the home. There are also more ‘Green’ cleaning and personal products coming on the market all the time, but there are more natural, simple, healthy, safe and cheaper alternatives.

A Simple, Natural and functional cleaning kit can consist of vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, fragrant or essential oils ( eucalyptus, tea tree, lemon, lavender, and rosemary), fresh lemons, salt, and olive oil.

Top of the List for a Natural Clean is Vinegar

Vinegar is chemical free, cheap, safe and can be used for a huge range of purposes. Our Great/Grandmothers knew dozens of ways to use vinegar, some of which are listed below.

Use cheaper (homebrand) white vinegar for cleaning and similar jobs.

Add lemon peel to the white vinegar to make a stronger cleaner. This is a good way to use older lemons or to use the peel of lemons after or before the juice is squeezed out of them.

Cleaning with Vinegar:

  • Spray dirty surfaces to help remove grime and grease.
  • Clean mirrors and windows using ½ a bucket of hot water, with 1 cup vinegar and 2 tablespoons of baking soda in it. Wash and then dry them with newspaper.
  • Clean a refrigerator using a solution of 50% vinegar and 50% water.
  • For a general cleaner mix 1 part vinegar with 1 part water, and use as you would normally use any other cleaning product.
  • Clean drains by pouring in 1 cup baking soda then one cup hot vinegar. Let it bubble and sit for 5 – 15 minutes. Run hot water down the drain.
  • Remove film from the inside a glass bottle or container by letting vinegar sit in them for a few hours. Add a little rice or sand and shake vigorously to loosen stubborn stains. Repeat if necessary.
  • Clean the dishwasher by pouring a cup of vinegar inside and run through a cycle.
  • Wipe plastic containers with a cloth dampened with vinegar to remove stains and smells.
  • Clean Brass by making a paste of 1 part flour, 1 part vinegar and 1 part salt. Wipe on, leave till dry and wipe off with a damp cloth. For bad stains scrub with half a lemon dipped in salt.
  • Clean copper with 1 tbs salt mixed in half a cup of vinegar, then dip in ½ a lemon (cut side) in mix and rub on copper.
  • Clean Tarnished Metal by making a paste with equal amounts of vinegar and table salt.
  • Wipe Mildew and soap scum with undiluted vinegar or spray on shower walls and shower curtain with half vinegar and half water to help prevent mildew. Vinegar is a cheap and safe option and literally causes the mold to explode from the inside out, whereas bleach just burns the tops off the mold.
  • Clean Shower Heads by spraying with vinegar and scrubbing with a tooth brush.
  • Toilets – pour in a cup or more of vinegar and let it sit several hours or overnight. Scrub well with the toilet brush and flush. When cleaning the toilet, the vinegar can be used undiluted. After flushing, pour it into the toilet bowl and scrub as normal. Always be sure to test it on a small area first to ensure that it will not damage any of the surfaces you intend cleaning. On this note, avoid using vinegar on marble surfaces and tile grouting.
  • Remove water rings from wood with a solution of equal parts vinegar and vegetable oil. Rub with the grain.
  • Scissors – clean off sticky residue with a cloth dipped in vinegar.
  • Wipe wooden cutting boards with vinegar or lemon.
  • Wipe your hands with vinegar to remove strong scents like onion and garlic, as well as stains from fruit juices.

1. Never use white distilled vinegar on marble. The acid can damage the surface.

Have you used Vinegar for cleaning in your home?