Make your own household cleaners
General, all-purpose liquid cleaner: 1 cup vinegar, 2 cups water and ½ a lemon.
Air freshener: A simple recipe of 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon vinegar (or lemon juice), and 2 cups hot water in a spray bottle can be sprayed in the air to remove odours. Or sprinkle essential oil on a cloth and wipe it over a radiator.
Windows: Put 3 tablespoons vinegar 3 litres water in a spray bottle. Some recommend using half vinegar and half water. For extra-dirty windows try this: 1/2 teaspoon liquid soap, 3 tablespoons vinegar, and 2 cups of water. Shake well. The best way to get streak-free windows is to use newspaper to wipe them.
Toilet cleaner: Pour 1 cup of borax substitute into the toilet before going to bed. In the morning, scrub and flush. For an extra-strength cleaner, add 1/4 cup vinegar to the borax substitute.
Ovens: To clean extra-greasy ovens, mix together 1 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup of washing soda, then add enough water to make a paste; apply the paste to oven surfaces and let soak overnight.
The next morning, lift off soda mixture and grime; rinse surfaces well (gloves are recommended as washing soda may irritate skin).
Disinfect surfaces naturally by mixing two parts water to one part vinegar or lemon juice.
See also www.dri-pak.co.uk/tips for more info.
DIY cleaning cupboard essentials
Baking Soda: Otherwise known as sodium bicarbonate or bicarbonate of soda, this domestic wonder powder is a key ingredient in many homemade cleaning products. As a powder it’s a mild abrasive that can scratch off dirt and absorb odours. When dissolved in water it is a mild disinfectant, cuts through grease and softens water. Use it as a thick paste with water as an abrasive cleaner or sprinkle on carpets and vacuum up as a deodoriser. A dish of it in the fridge will absorb smells.
Soda crystals/washing soda: For a stronger version of soda, go for soda crystals (also known as washing soda), which are more effective at getting rid of grease. (Available online from Dri-pak, www.dri-pak.co.uk)
Borax substitute: The EU has reclassified the ‘Borate’ group of chemicals that borax belongs to, so it is no longer available as a cleaning and laundry product. Dri-Pak now make borax substitute which is a mineral compound, with the perfect pH for cleaning, and is gentler than Soda Crystals yet stronger than Bicarbonate of Soda.
Soap flakes: Pure vegetable soap flakes or liquid soap flakes made from rapeseed and sunflower oil (no palm oil).
White Vinegar: Simply made from the fermentation of ethanol, vinegar is a mild acid that cuts through grease and disinfects by killing many types of bacteria.
Lemons: Lemons are acidic and can provide some antibacterial and antiseptic properties for cleaning. Adding lemon juice to vinegar can help neutralise the vinegar smell.
Essential oils: can be used as a natural fragrance.
Elbow grease: the infinitely renewable cleaning product!
Bicarb, soda crystals, borax and soap flakes are all available online from Dri-pak or in some supermarkets.