A toxin-free household starts with getting rid of harmful chemicals, many of which come from the cleaning products we use every day.
Boost your health, reduce allergens and save money by replacing pricey sprays and detergents with these six household ingredients – mixed together or used on their own, they will keep your home looking and smelling delicious.
1. Olive oil
While it doesn’t get much tastier than a drizzle of olive oil on fresh bread, this household essential also has myriad other uses in the home that don’t involve eating. Use it to clean and protect rattan and wicker furniture – simply dab some warm oil onto a soft cloth and rub into the pieces to keep them from cracking. Or mix a few tablespoons with vinegar and water for a DIY floor polish. It can also be used straight up to remove paint from your hands after a working bee.
2. White vinegar
Tough on bacteria and mildew, this cheap and versatile item is a must on your grocery list. Use a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water to wipe down fridge shelves, doorknobs and tap handles, and spritz onto chopping boards before wiping clean. This combo also keeps glass surfaces sparkling – keep a spray bottle in your bathroom cupboard to ensure your mirror stays perfectly clear. For a hard-working cleaner, combine half a cup with a few tablespoons of baking soda to form a scrub, perfect for the sink and shower.
3. Baking soda
Not only essential for your favourite banana bread recipe, baking soda is a household staple for its cleaning and deodorising properties. An effective yet gentle abrasive, baking soda can be mixed with warm water to make an all-purpose cleaner for wiping down benchtops, fridge shelves and bathroom basins. Dust it over your carpet before vacuuming, add half a cup to your washing up to give your detergent extra oomph, and to your laundry load for a brightening boost. Not bad for only a few dollars a box.
Make a fresh-smelling scourer by sprinkling one quarter of a cup of coarse salt onto two halves of a grapefruit, then using them to scrub your shower, bathtub, sink and toilet. Just be sure to squeeze the juice out as you go and wash the pulp away afterwards. Like other members of the citrus family, grapefruit is naturally antibacterial and germ-fighting, not to mention it’s deliciously zingy scent proves much more inviting than artificial fragrance.
Forget expensive scrubs, salt is the perfect scouring agent – mix yours with dishwashing liquid to remove tea- and coffee-stained cups and pots. Or combine a tablespoon of coarse salt with some olive oil to make a cleaning paste for cast-iron pots and pans – use a hard brush to scrub, then rinse with hot water.
6. Lemon juice
Lemons are a kitchen staple for good reason – they can be squeezed, sliced, zested and preserved to add a vitamin C boost to your diet. In addition, lemons are a mild disinfectant and come in handy for cleaning and deodorising your kitchen. Full of natural acid, they possess powerful antibacterial properties. Bring some zing to your cleaning routine by spritzing lemon juice in your shower to break down soap scum, use a wedge to polish copper, chrome and brass, and add a squeeze to the sink when you’re washing up the dishes.
7. Eucalyptus oil
This multi-purpose, readily available oil can tackle all manner of chores, and it’s an anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiviral deodoriser to boot. To thoroughly clean and freshen up sheets, towels, pillows and blankets, add two teaspoons to the washing machine cycle. It’s also handy to remove and prevent unsightly mould from the bathroom or fridge – add five drops to a cup of hot water and wipe down mould-prone surfaces. Eucalyptus oil makes disinfecting the toilet a breeze too, but if you only have tea tree oil to hand, this will do the job just as well.