20 Apr 2016

If you look in the right places, there’s a solution to just about any household cleaning problem that comes naturally, rather than from an expensive chemical solution.

Chemicals do a great job in most situations, but we’re living in a much more eco-friendly culture than ten years ago, and everybody’s chipping in little-by-little to do their part. Plus, you’ll save money, which is a nice co-incidental reward while you’re at it.

1. Swap out dishwasher tablets

A good way to cut costs while going natural is to cut down on expensive dishwasher tablets. You’ve got a couple of choices here:

Eucalypt Oil and Bicarbonate of Soda (3 drops of oil, one tbps of Bicarb) is a pretty cheap solution for Aussies, since it literally grows on trees around here.
Bagged Soapnuts: Soapnuts, which aren’t actually nuts but are berries of the genus Sapindus, are a natural soap that works fine in their natural form — simply shove three or four into a thin mesh bag and dump them into your soap slot. They’ll keep for a couple of washes each, but you should figure out your own mileage on them. An easy way to check whether they’re still fresh enough to use is to give them a squeeze. If they’re looking brown and soapy mixture still comes out, they’re good to go. Grey and empty? Change ‘em out.

2. Learn to love Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus Oil is not only good for washing dishes, it’s a fresh-smelling natural antiseptic and cleaner too (which is why it’s used  in everything from anti-inflammatories to cough drops). In fact, it’s got so many applications that we’ve given it its own header.

To cut down on chemicals, add a couple of teaspoons of oil to a spray bottle and finish it off with a half dozen drops of eucalyptus oil. The resultant mixture works perfectly as a spot and bench cleaner for the kitchen, or for cleaning the oven and other appliances.

You can use it as a floor cleaner (two capfuls to a bucket of water), to remove dust mites from your washing (a capful into the wash), as a toilet cleaner (one part oil to twenty parts water), or to help get sticky labels from sticking to where they shouldn’t (use it straight).

The strong smell of concentrated eucalypt also acts as a natural deterrent for bugs and pests, meaning that your cleaning also doubles as bug spray.

3. Clean a little greener by raiding the pantry

For spot cleaning, you can use any of a dozen green alternatives, and half of them can be found simply by opening up a larder. A couple of examples include:

Vinegar is a common natural cleaning substitute, and white vinegar is a disinfectant that’s been used for centuries. It’s regularly used as a window cleaner and oil remover in thousands of households globally.
Lemon Juice works like vinegar, but can also substitute bleach for spot checks. It’s not as strong as a full-concentrate bottle of bleach though, so find something stronger if you really need to bleach the bajeesus out of something.
Baking Soda finds use as a scouring agent for cleaning up the sink and other metallic installations.
Olive Oil can be used to bring out scratches in wood. Add some disinfectant to it (like lemon juice) and it’ll double as a wood polish.
Coffee Grounds, if you’re a slave to the demon bean, absorb odours amazingly. Keep your morning grounds to the side after drinking and spread them on top of the bin to reduce garbage stench. Putting a few teaspoons in with hard-to-clean plates to soak also works to loosen up grime and dirt in a way that seems like it shouldn’t work, but totally does. Try it!
Salt is abrasive and grease absorbent. Dusting greasy pans or spills with salt before starting to clean them allows them to soak into the grit, making a fairly gross mixture which is nevertheless easier to clean up than simple oil.

4. Odour eater

Aerosols and aerosol cleaners are a huge contributor to our current ozone issues. Cutting down on your use of them is a huge step in improving your eco-footprint.

If you’re the type of household that leaves air fresheners in the bathroom, try substituting it for a box of matches. It sounds odd, but the phosphorous smell of a struck match removes any methane from the air, and unpleasant smells with it, to the same effect. This way you’re helping to neutralise the odour instead of covering over it with a stronger one.

Our old friend eucalyptus also works if you’re after a green friendly smell for the house too.

Cutting down on aerosols goes beyond regular household cleanliness – for personal hygiene, use a stick or roller instead. They’re just as cheap and won’t congest the air with cough-inducing clogginess to boot.