1. Save time with a multipurpose spray
Zero-waste blogger Rachelle Strauss fills a spray bottle with half vinegar and half water. “If you don’t like the smell of vinegar, you can add essential oils. I like things such as lemon and lime to make it really zesty.” The beauty of the spray, she says, is you can use it for 90% of cleaning jobs. “You can clean your work surfaces, the dining table, the sink, ceramic hobs, bathrooms and mirrors.” Vinegar can also be used to descale the kettle – cover the element with it and boil.
2. Olive oil is not just for drizzling
“It is an amazing natural alternative to furniture polish,” says the aptly named Madeleine Olivia, author of the forthcoming book Minimal: How to Simplify Your Life and Live Sustainably. “Any standard olive oil will do. Dab some on a cloth, polish gently over the surface and leave to dry. You can add lemon juice for a fresh scent.” One squeeze of lemon for each quarter of a cup, she suggests.
3. Discover castile soap
Olivia swears by this non-toxic and biodegradable type of soap. “You can use it for laundry detergent, dish soap, hand soap, floor cleaner or even shampoo,” she says. “For washing-up liquid, mix four parts of castile soap with one part water in a repurposed container. For sparkling floors, add 1/4 cup of vinegar to your bucket of hot water and a generous squeeze of castile soap.”
4. Bulk buy bicarbonate of soda
Bicarb, says Strauss, works in three ways: it deodorises (putting a small bowl in a fridge will absorb foul smells); it fizzes when wet and penetrates grease; and it is gently abrasive – great for cleaning bathrooms. For the latter, it can leave a residue “so finish with some vinegar spray and your taps will shine”, says Strauss.
Oven cleaner and drain unblockers come with the most extreme health warnings of all cleaning products. However, says Strauss, you can tackle these jobs with bicarb. “When your oven has cooled down but is still warm sprinkle a thick layer of bicarb over the oven floor, add a little water and leave it for half an hour,” she says. “All the grease will just come away. I’m not pretending that it would look like you have used Mr Muscle, but it’ll be good enough.” And it’s non-toxic.
For drains, she says: “Sprinkle some bicarb down, then pour some vinegar and it will start to bubble and dislodge grease.”
5. Fight mould with tea tree oil and vinegar
To tackle mould and mildew, Olivia fills a spray bottle with white vinegar and a few drops of tea tree oil. “Leave to do its thing for 30 minutes, then scrub off with a cloth and warm water,” she says.
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