Cleaning up doesn't have to mean cleaning out the planet of its natural resources. Make a softer footprint on the Earth by following these top tips.
1. Make your own dishwasher liquid
Dishwashers can be very handy. But dishwasher liquid or tablets are often expensive and may contain phosphates that are hazardous to water supplies. Make your own natural dishwasher liquid and enjoy plates that sparkle for less.
- 1/2 cup liquid castile soap (try Dr Bronner’s)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 3 drops tea tree extract
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
Stir the water and soap together. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until blended. Transfer into a bottle for storage. Use 2 tablespoons per load.
2. Make your own laundry detergent
Many commercially available washing powders and detergents contain toxic chemicals like bleach that can lead to skin irritation. Ditch the detergent in a few easy moves.
- 1 bar of shaved bar soap, this can be oil-based castile soap (Dr Bronner’s) or chemical-free laundry soap (Sunshine, Ivory, Fels-Naptha or Zote)
- 1/2 cup of soda crystals (Dri-Pak)
- 1/2 cup of borax (US) or borax substitute (UK) – optional
Perfect for all front-loading washing machines. Stir together soap shavings and soda crystals until well combined. Decant into a container and store. Use 1 tablespoon per load (2 for heavy soils).
Tip: For a simpler alternative seek out multi-purpose, biodegradable soapnuts. Soapnuts are a natural detergent source grown in India. They produce mild soap suds when in contact with water, and can be used as a shampoo or soap alternative.
For use as a laundry detergent, place 5-7 soapnut shells into a sock or cotton bag, tie securely and wash with clothes. Soapnuts can be used for more than one wash, though it's better to use them on the same day.
3. Make your own glass cleaner
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 4 cups warm water
Blissfully simple. For glass cleaner combine the white vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle. Use to clean glass or mirrors with a dry cloth or piece of newspaper.
For a quick-fix carpet stain remover mix equal parts of white vinegar with water in spray bottle and apply to stain. After soaking for several minutes clean with a brush or sponge with warm, soapy water.
4. Make your own furniture polish
- Lemon oil (essential oil)
- 1/2 cup warm water
Add a few drops of lemon oil to the warm water. Mix well and spray onto a soft cotton cloth. Wipe furniture with the cloth, and then wipe again with a dry soft cotton cloth.
5. Make your own general purpose cleaner
For use on tiles, bathroom panels, mirrors, windows and hard bathroom and kitchen surfaces.
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 1/4 cup bicarbonate of soda
- 2 litres water
Mix together all ingredients in a bucket of water. Decant into a spray bottle. Store and keep.
Natural cleaning cupboard must-haves
- Bicarbonate of soda (buy a large container from the chemist, rather than small pots from supermarkets. Also available in bulk online)
- White vinegar (available to buy in bulk from supermarkets)
- Lemon juice
- Essential oils (especially tea tree oil, lavender oil, eucalyptus oil and lemongrass oil)
- Castile soap - chemical-free vegetable-based soap (Dr Bronner’s is available online in hard and liquid forms)
- Soapnuts (available at Friends of the Earth shop, Budgens stores and online)
- Soda crystals (washing soda). Find in the laundry section of large supermarkets
- Spare jars and spray bottles.
Not enough time to make it yourself?
Visit Friends of the Earth Shop for Ecozone and other cleaning products. Alternatively, Earth Friendly Products specialises in cleaning products made from simple, organic, natural ingredients. Available from health food and wholefood shops across the UK.
Look out for more tips in our series on tackling overconsumption.