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Following on from our 10 tips for low tox living blog post, we’ll be sharing a series of blog posts to help with the transition to a no-nasties lifestyle. This blog series will include ingredients and recipes for DIY cleaning, skin / hair care and dental products. Here, we’re starting with a list of key ingredients used in homemade natural home cleaners.
The main attribute of Borax is that it softens water making it a more effective cleaner, and is also a natural bleaching and cleaning agent. Commonly used in washing powders.
A product rather than an ingredient, Castile Soap has a vegetable oil origin and has no-nasties in it making it a great soap base for sprays, pastes and detergent cleaners.
Found in many living things, but mostly citrus fruits, Citric Acid is a mild natural acid that acts as a chelating agent – this means it draws minerals out of the surface or products it’s used on, which makes it great for dishwashing powders.
With approx. 5-6% acidity, Distilled Vinegar is useful in some cleaning products, but not all. Distilled Vinegar is effective as a degreaser, mould and mildew cleaner, and for descaling one’s coffee machine. It cuts through and kills bacteria when used full-strength but is still effective when diluted.
Essential Oils (Organic)
Not only for nicer aromas, Essential Oils hold their own in cleaning products. Here we’ve listed a few of our favourites, and their key attributes.
- Cinnamon – a great deterrent for creepy crawlies, perfect for spraying around windows and doors
- Eucalyptus – a bit of a grease buster, so great for surface cleaners – plus a natural germicide
- Lavender – with natural antiseptic qualities, lavender is great for washing powders
- Lemon – for its antibacterial characteristics, and great smell!
- Peppermint – much like Cinnamon, Peppermint deters the ant and spider varieties of creepy crawlies
- Rosemary – a duo of antibacterial and antiseptic properties, Rosemary is perfect for powders, detergents and air fresheners
- Tea Tree – a fighter of germs and bacteria, making it particularly good for cleaning the floor as that’s the most common way germs are tracking into and through our homes
Used as a solvent and a sanitiser, Isopropyl Alcohol is 99.97% pure – Vodka is just as effective if you have it though… it’s also completely optional. We only specify it in our Glass Cleaner recipe as it helps with achieving a smear-free clean to mirrors, windows and other glass finishes, and our Deoderiser recipe.
More commonly known as Baking Soda, Sodium Bicarbonate is a natural mineral which has literally hundreds of uses. Not only does it neutralise acid and absorb odours, it’s also great for removing water stains and greasy residue. With its versatility, Sodium Bicarbonate will appear in most of our recipes.
Sometimes called Soda Ash or Washing Soda, Sodium Carbonate is the base for most washing powders such as dishwasher powder and laundry powder. It softens water and also enables detergents to work more effectively, if prepared correctly.
Coarser varieties of Sodium Chloride (Sea Salt) are great natural scouring agents, and improve the cleaning and deoderising functions of other ingredients like Baking Soda and Distilled Vinegar.
Also known as Vegetable Glycerine, we prefer the Organic varieties. Derived from corn and soy, rather than palm oil, Glycerol is a natural solvent making it perfect for removing stains.
Aside from these ingredients, you’ll also need the right tools. This includes not only the glass vessels with various closures for the finished products, but also a selection of wooden cleaning brushes and cotton and copper cloth and coconut fibre scourer for cleaning with.
In the next blog post we share how these ingredients are used to make cleaning powders, pastes and sprays for the home and laundry. Check it out here.