10 ways to clean your home without cleaning products
It seems like this time of year you can't walk into a shop without seeing shelves upon shelves of cleaning products and big signs reminding us all that it's time for SPRING CLEANING. As great as it is to give your home a good scrub, whatever the time of year, we shouldn't forget that many home cleaning products are packed full of harmful chemicals and toxins.
A report from the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Heath found that household cleaning products contribute to indoor air pollution that can cause health problems. While it may be difficult to avoid using all cleaning products to keep your home sparkling, you can use a selection of common household goods like white vinegar to get the job done. Here are a few suggestions:
Clean your dishwasher
To keep your dishwasher fresh and clean, once a month fill a dishwasher safe bowl or cup with 250ml of white vinegar and place it on the top rack of your dishwasher. Now run your dishwasher (empty save for the cup) on a full cycle with hottest possible water. This should keep your dishwasher sparkling and smelling fresh. *Tip - before you try this, make sure to wipe out any food debris from the bottom of your washer, and rinse out the filter as well.
Reinvigorate your drain
There's nothing worse than a horrible smelling sink drain. Unfortunately old bits of food may get stuck down there and start to rot. This trick will help clear out your drain (provided it's not too clogged up) while getting rid of that stinky smell. Drop about 100g of sodium bicarbonate down your drain, and then follow it with 125ml of white vinegar. Be careful here as sodium bicarbonate and vinegar react quite excitedly when mixed, and will begin to foam and froth (think of those volcano science projects kids in TV shows always seem to be making!). Loosely cover your drain with the stopper and leave the mix to do its job for 2 - 3 hours. When you're ready, pour some hot water down the drain to clear out the mixture.
Spruce up your sink
Now that your drain is clean, here's a great way to clean your sink basin (provided it's stainless steel). Remove all dishes and food particles and then rinse with water. Now sprinkle with sodium bicarbonate and use a clean sponge to scrub the basin with the powder. Once you've finished, wipe down the basin with a sponge and white vinegar. Rinse with water and then rub lemon wedges over the surface of your basin for a fresh clean smell.
Brighten your windows
You don't need to splurge on a bottle of chemical laden glass cleaner to get your windows to sparkle. All you need is your own spray bottle, some liquid dish soap and some white vinegar. Combine 500ml of water with 125ml of white vinegar, then add a couple drops of soap. Mix well and begin spraying! If you want to make your spray smell nice you can also add a couple drops of essential oil.
Freshen your counters
For a general wipe down of your counters (laminate only, don't try this on granite or wood tops) try squeezing some lemon juice (straight from the lemon) on your surface and then wipe down with a cloth or paper towel. This is a great way to freshen up your counter tops and get rid of basic stains. You'll likely want to use something stronger when battling residue from raw meat etc.
Degunk your microwave
It's a difficult task trying to scrub the dried splatter off the walls of your microwave. Here's a quick and simple trick. Slice a lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a bowl, drop in the wedges as well, and then add about 125ml of water. Place the bowl in your microwave and heat on high for 3-5 minutes, then let stand for 5-10 minutes. When you open the microwave be careful of the steam, and also be careful as you remove the bowl. Now wipe down the inside of the microwave with a cloth and the gunk should come away quite easily.
Deodorise fabric surfaces
Couches, mattresses, carpets, rugs - these can be difficult to clean as you can't really pop them in the washer. If you want to freshen them up or get rid of any smells, here's a great little trick. Sprinkle sodium bicarbonate over the surface and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Overnight is a good idea if you have some deep odours. Next, just vacuum the residue away. For a deeper clean on your mattress, mix 3tbsp sodium bicarbonate with 250ml hydrogen peroxide and 2-3 drops of liquid dish soap in a heavy duty spray bottle and spray the surface of your mattress. Let it sit until dry and then vacuum away the residue.
Demineralise shower heads
Is your shower head getting a build-up of lime scale? A simple fix is to fill a carrier bag (make sure to find one without holes in it!) with white vinegar and tie it over the shower head (so the head is immersed) and leave it overnight. Just rinse it off with water in the morning and it will be sparkling like new.
Buff your faucets
Lightly layer the surface of your faucet and taps with plain toothpaste (no gels or whitening varieties) and gently buff with a soft cloth. This will restore shine.
Steam your floors
Did you know you can clean your floors with nothing but the power of hot water? Though it does involve investing in a steam cleaner, once you have one you'll be able to clean a multitude of surfaces without the aid of chemical cleaners. You can also use steam to remove stains on your stove and counter tops, as well as clean tiles in your bathroom.