I’ve always been of the mentality that if I can make something myself, then why should I buy it?
Health has always been my priority. My father spent his last years in a wheel chair due to a stroke. His attack was most likely caused by obesity and unhealthy lifestyle, and it give me quite the wakeup call in my late teens. Twenty years later and I’m still keeping up with a healthier lifestyle.
As far as making my own things goes, it all started with peanut butter.
I’m a big fan of the healthy fats in nuts and peanut butter is not only delicious but also full of nutrients. I wasn’t very fond of the additives and sugar content in commercial nut butters, though, so after a bit of research, my food processor went on full speed in an attempt to create my own peanut butter (by the way, it’s really easy!). It was a success and since then I’ve been making all sort of foods from scratch—everything from jams to yogurt to pickles.
But since I started making my own food, my DYI mentality has extended to other areas of my home and I want to share some of my practices here.
Mopping, washing, vacuuming—they’re all necessities in our daily lives but the amount of toxic cleaning supplies used for keeping our homes clean is staggering. Most commercial products contain toxic chemicals that are not only released into the world from our sewers, but are also made using practices that are detrimental to the planet. Large manufacturing plants are causing huge damage to the environment just to make what we consider to be typical, everyday cleaning products.
So what are the alternatives? Are there any natural products we can use to lessen our negative impact on the environment? What can we use to clean our towels, kitchens, bathrooms and floors to minimise the damage we do to our planet?
What specific brands and substances you have will vary depending on the country you live in, but here we break it down by application:
We’ve all had a greasy stain that needs to be removed, be it on the stovetop after frying or from spilling oil on our clothes.
Get an empty spray bottle, fill it up with undiluted white vinegar, and apply it to the stained area. Wait about 10 minutes and then scrub the area clean with a piece of dishcloth.
Another way of de-greasing is to use baking soda. For a kitchen spill, apply a generous amount on a damp sponge and scrub down the area. Follow up with a clean cloth to remove any powder residue and your stovetop will look like new.
For clothes, the easiest way to remove a greasy stain is to apply corn starch (or any fine powder such as baby powder), let it sit for 10-15 minutes and then brush it off. This will absorb the grease and make the stain more manageable. If it’s a tough stain, finish off with (natural, unscented) soap and hot water.
Making your own disinfectant is simple and cheap, and will also add a nice, fresh scent to the air.Lemon will be your go-to fruit for this task. Mix the following:
60 ml (1/4 cup) of vinegar
1l (4 cups) of hot water
1 lemon (juice and rind)
2 tablespoons of baking soda
Stir well to dissolve the baking soda, and remove the lemon rind. Add this mixture to a spray bottle and voila! Disinfecting your home has never been easier (or better smelling).
To clean up a chopping board, rub in a slice of lemon and it will be safe to use with other foods. If you need to sterilise—for example if you’ve been preparing raw chicken—you can use alcohol or ethanol to be really sure that all the bacteria is wiped clean.
We have all seen the aerosol-based fresheners that you spray around the room to deodorise, but as most of us know, it’s bad both for your family and the environment. Dangerous gasses contribute to global warming and can build up toxins in our bodies. Luckily there are plenty of natural ways to keep our home smelling fresh and at the same time remove (not only mask) unpleasant odours.
> Keep freshly coffee grounds on a counter in the kitchen.
> Having plants or flowers around the house keeps odours to a minimum.
> Place dried herbs or flowers on tables and shelves (for example lavender).
> Mix vinegar with lemon and keep it in small dishes to absorb bad odours.
> Simmer water and spices (such as cinnamon) on the stove to give the kitchen a lift.
> If you have a garbage disposal, grind up a slice of lemon.
Towels and other linens
Towels can easily become smelly if kept in an enclosed space, or if not dried enough. These often bulky items (such as bath towels) can take quite some time to get dry if the weather is chilly and you hand dry them.
But fear not, washing the towels without soap and adding about 230 ml (1 cup) of vinegar will remove most smells. If they still smell, repeat the process, or replace the vinegar with baking soda. This should save even the smelliest gym towel.
For washing detergent it’s quite easy to make it yourself. Just combine all the following in a food processor and mix until you get a fine powder:
400 grams of natural soap (can be cut in small pieces beforehand as to make the process smoother)
1 l (4 cups) of washing soda
Once you have the detergent, use four to five drops of lemon extract for each load to help with degreasing and fresh scent.
Using natural products for cleaning will both help the environment and reduce toxins used in the household, which is a win win situation. Add to this that it’s usually cheaper than store-bought chemicals and you have a recipe for success.
Author: Andreas Dahlgren
Editor: Katarina Tavčar