spring cleaning

From all-purpose cleaners to fabric softeners, pretty much all the cleaning products we use in our homes are laden with nasty toxic chemicals.

Even many of those cleaning products labeled ‘natural’ do not actually contain natural ingredients and could be irritating your skin, or worse, making you sick. And those fruit or herbal-scented cleaners? They’re also made with synthetic chemicals that mimic the scent of fruit or herbs, which can cause skin conditions.

Here are five natural home cleaning products that are safe to use at home and work even more effectively than store-bought cleaners – plus they’re much cheaper.

Good old-fashioned vinegar is a cleaning miracle. Replace your all-purpose spray cleaner with diluted vinegar: simply dilute one cup of vinegar in three cups of water and use it to clean your counters, floors, windows, and pet mess.

Brush those yucky stains in your toilet away with undiluted vinegar.

Baking soda
Forget chemical-heavy fabric softeners, especially if you or your family have sensitive skin. Commercial fabric softeners also reduce the absorbency of your favourite towels as they coat the fibres in residue. Instead, add 1/4 cup of baking soda to your rinse cycle. Want your laundry to smell nice? Add a drop of tea tree oil, eucalyptus or lavender oil to the baking soda.

Baking soda mixed with apple cider vinegar is a brilliant, non-toxic bathroom cleaner. Make a slurry, and use to scrub toilets, showers, bath tubs and sinks.

Lemons are a wunderkind in the kitchen. Cut lemons in half and scrub over a cutting board to disinfect and remove food stains – leave for 20 minutes before rinsing in warm water and drying.

Lemon juice also dissolves soap scum, cleans and brightens white dinnerware, and shines brass and copper.

Cloves are a must to have in your spice rack, for more than just cooking. Silverfish terrorising your wardrobe? Place whole cloves where you’ve seen them and any gaps in the skirting – silverfish hate the smell of cloves.

Forget noxious air fresheners or candles: simmer cloves and whole cinnamon sticks on the stove at the lowest temperature in plenty of water.

Hydrogen peroxide
We might associate hydrogen peroxide with tragic hair bleaching experiments during our teenager years, but it’s actually the safest natural bleach you can use in your home. Using gloves, dilute one teaspoon in four litres of water and wipe down surfaces as you would all-purpose sprays. Allow to air dry. Remember it will whiten surfaces so only use on non-porous or white surfaces.

Do you use natural cleaning products at home?