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Sunday, May 16, 2010


I don’t know about you but I get a little steamed about all of those cleaning product adverts with pristine mothers in ¾ pants and a manic grin gliding about their house spraying chemicals left right and centre. One – why is it always women in these commercials? I know plenty of men who clean. Two – they talk about germs as if they are the end to humankind, germs aren't that bad! Three – what mother looks like that all perfectly groomed and smiling whilst cleaning the house and wrangling 3 kids? Not me, I usually march about the house in my bathrobe and slippers evicting mess to the far corners where I can’t see it, hoping like nothing else that the wee man will sleep a few extra minutes so I can pee/eat breakfast/have shower/get dressed all at once.

I personally think we are cleaning too much, don’t get me wrong I love a nice clean house but the ongoing warfare against germs seems unnecessary and expensive. Germs by and large are a natural and wholesome part of life. No one is germ free except for perhaps the boy in the bubble and he is one sick wee boy. Children need germs to develop a healthy immune system and I resent large companies trying to make me feel guilty or scared about germs in my household and I think it’s even more ridiculous that we are using highly toxic chemical laden cleansers to make our houses ‘clean’ If I had to pick between a few germs and a few chemicals I would go for germs all the time. My mum informs me we were grubby little children and I seem none the worse for wear!

I used to be a cleaning product junkie, if it had bright colours on the label I had it, but now I have reduced my household cleaning regime to these few products. Not only are these safer for babies but they are more environmentally friendly and they are cheaper too.

Teatree oil – antibacterial and odour remover
Lavender Oil – natural scent
Baking Soda – odour remover, stain remover and good for scouring
Vinegar – Great for mould, smells and grime

I use these items on their own or combined for all major cleaning jobs around the house!

Antibacterial Surface Spray

1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
5 drops tea tree oil

This is my all purpose spray mix great for bench tops, windows, surfaces and I spray it on dishes that may be a little stubborn in the dishwasher

I put a couple of drops of Lavender oil on the vacuum bag when I lux the house, it really makes the carpet smell fresh and clean. To save pennies, if your vacuum cleaner takes a fabric bag that can’t be reused you can cut one end to empty it and then run a few rows of stitching along to reuse!


The best smell remover is a candle or scent burner. I can’t think of anything more silly than spraying chemicals into the air we breathe so it smells nicer. I bought a cheapie cheap scent burner and just light it whenever the house gets a bit close. I often have it lit when it’s nappy time! Don't forget also nothing beats opening all the windows and curtains to let the sunlight and fresh air get at those stinky greeblies.

Carpet stains and other mucky marks

Baking soda with vinegar scrubbed in and rinsed out before drying. Although for most carpet whoopsies the best thing is to soak it in water and sponge dry – repeat until clean. Use warm water if it is a greasy one. A carpet specialist gave me that one and after 5 years of vomity dog and red wine I can attest to it’s efficacy.

Bathroom grub

If the spray doesn’t work then make baking soda and vinegar into a paste and use like jif.

Mould and Mildew

Pure vinegar with a few drops of tea tree to reduce the fish and chips smell.


Zap a mug with hot water and vinegar until the microwave is all steamed. Should wipe clean beautifully.

Floor Wax

I don’t often wax the floor but if you were into that then my dad in law swears by this.

1 part natural turps
1 part beeswax

Mix in a glass jar and over a week the beeswax should dissolve. Rub into wooden surfaces and floors to get to a nice shine – requires a little elbow grease!

The Amish make an all-purpose cleaning solution by combining 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup ammonia, 1/4 cup white vinegar and a gallon of water Shake well and pour the solution into a spray bottle.

Baking soda and vinegar can be used to clean carpet spots. Sprinkle the baking soda on the spot, then pour on some vinegar. It'll bubble like crazy. Let it dry some and then vacuum. And make sure you test the color fastness of your carpet first - before cleaning the whole thing.

You can clean out the innards of your dishwater by running it empty with a bowl of vinegar in it. Same is true for your coffee pot..

Coffee and tea stains can be cleaned by rubbing baking soda into them.

Borax is an effective alternative to harsh chlorine bleach, don't ask me where you can get borax but I have been told it's true.

We love killing bacteria, so manufacturers are turning to triclosan to help us do it. But this disinfectant can prompt the growth of resistant bacteria; what's more, it can turn carcinogenic. Use vinegar instead (and remember that not all bacteria is harmful!).

We've been brainwashed into thinking that germs are evil and our homes must be free of all bacteria, but the truth is that for dustiness, spills and specks, a good strong wipe with a damp towel is not only plenty effective, but safer for you and better for the planet

If you absolutely must have your cleaning products and potions you can try this simple trick to reduce costs and chemicals. Use half – I am not kidding. Use half of what you normally would or is recommended by the manufacturer. 9 times out of 10 everything will be cleaned just as well. I do this for the dishwasher as I can’t quite quit the powder and my dishes still get just as clean.

I imagine there are a million and one other home recipes for cleaning products, I like to keep it as simple as possible. If I must buy a product I try and get the one with the least chemicals, there is no replacement for elbow grease!

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