Despite all the powerful new cleaning products that have been produced, using advanced chemical technology and sophisticated ingredients, many cleaning jobs can be just as effectively done using “old-fashioned cleaning remedies”. These are tried and test methods passed down from our great- grandparents and are just as effective today as they were before the invention of the cleaning products industry.
So the next time you need to do some household cleaning, don’t rush out to buy a host of harsh chemical cleaners – check out these traditional cleaning remedies. Not only are they better for the environment but they are often better for your purse too!
Baking soda is a wonder product that is sadly underused in the modern household. Mixed with lemon juice, vinegar or even just some water, it produces a gently abrasive paste that is a great all-purpose cleaner and stain remover. Not only does it work on a variety of surfaces but it does not does not produce a corrosive effect, like many other strong cleaners.
Baking soda is particularly good for cleaning stainless steel items and is also remarkably effective on tannin stains from tea and coffee. Use it as a paste to rub into stain in crockery and also on crayon marks on walls or wallpaper. You can also gently scrub with a damp sponge sprinkled with baking soda.
Baking soda’s most famous property is probably its deodorising action -it has an incredible ability to absorb odours and can neutralise them as well, which makes it a great cleaner for the refrigerator and deodoriser for the dishwasher (sprinkle one-half cup baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher between loads). It is also very effective at masking any odours from pet stains and general odours in carpets – simply sprinkle some baking soda over the carpet and leave for 10-15 minutes before vacuuming the whole area.
Lemon juice contains citric acid, which is a mild acid – this results in a bleaching and deodorising effect and also helps to dissolve grease. Lemon juice diluted in hot water is a great gentle cleaner for the kitchen.
Lemon juice is also a great stain remover that’s not really used enough around the home. In fact, it is one of the first things you should try and can be used on a huge range of stains. For example, remove berry stains from your skin, clean stains from brass, copper and stainless steel cutlery and kitchen sinks, bleach ink spots on clothing, eliminate odours from a cutting board, and – especially combined with salt – help shift a whole host of different stains from fabrics.
When choosing a lemon for cleaning purposes, go for one which is firm and heavy, with a fine-grained skin as these tend to have more juice.
White vinegar is cheap, easily available, and harmless to use – and again, a fantastic all-purpose cleaner. It is especially good as a natural glass cleaner, leaving glass sparkling, clean and streak-free.
Like lemon juice, it is a mild acid so it is particularly effective on certain solid stains, such as limescale and calcium deposits (“soap scum”) from hard water – for example, in the shower and bath. It will even unclog the washing machine – simply pour one cup of white vinegar into the washing machine and run the machine through a normal cycle, without clothes, once a month. It also works on stubborn stains on furniture and upholstery, food stains from pots and pans, mildew and mould from bathroom tiles and shower curtains, perspiration from clothes, stains in toilet bowls and animal urine stains in the carpet.
Finally, like baking soda, vinegar is also a natural air freshener – placing a small bowl of vinegar in the room or spraying some into the air will deodorise a room filled with smoke or paint fumes.
Natural sunlight is a good alternative to the harsh bleaches used in many commercial cleaning products, which can be very damaging to the environment. In fact, natural, direct sunlight has one of the most powerful bleaching effects known. For stain, wet the stained area and leave it outside in direct sunlight, when it dries – wet it again and keep repeating this, until the stain has disappeared. Leaving objects in direct sunlight will also help reduce mould and mildew and all bedding and upholstery should ideally be put outside to be aired under direct sunlight periodically.