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Greener cleaners

Save the planet – and your budget – with Wendyl’s homemade cleansers When I started sharing my natural cleaning recipes on the Living Channel’s April in the Afternoon, we were all pleasantly surprised to find that many viewers called in to ask for copies.

I’ve been putting a few in my Agony Aunt column but then realised that a pull-out copy which you can stick on the inside of your cleaning cupboard or in your recipe book would be a good idea. I’ve been using and collecting these for years, and it’s possible to clean your house from top to bottom using little more than some vinegar, baking soda and essential oils.

I’ve found most of these recipes from old books I collect, like Aunt Daisy’s handy hints, and some new books I’ve bought. I’ve also made some of them up myself.

Happy cleaning – and remember you don’t have to be a fanatic about saving the planet. Just changing to one of these cleaners will make a difference. And why not spread the word by making them for friends and including the recipe on a sticker placed on the back of the bottle. Kitchen Spray and wipe Nearly fill a 1 litre spray bottle with water.

Add 1 tsp baking soda, a few drops of Sunlight dishwashing liquid (which is biodegradable), and 10 drops of lavender or tea tree essential oil which both have antibacterial properties (not fragrant oil, which can be synthetic). Shake together.

If you have wooden bench tops also add about 1 tsp of olive oil and shake the bottle every time you use it to disperse the oil. You can use other essential oils to give your kitchen a different fragrance or try adding 1 tsp of natural vanilla essence, or pop a vanilla pod in with the mix for a nice, warm winter smell.

Antibacterial sprayoany disinfectants on the market are highly toxic and too strong for a home environment. In the old days we used herbs to disinfect our environments. Lavender, mint, lemon balm and thyme were laid on floors, hung from rafters in bunches and potted up in window boxes.

This spray is great for using on your chopping board and any other areas you want to keep bacteria-free. 1 cup water 20 drops sweet orange essential oil 10 drops lavender essential oil 10 drops eucalyptus essential oil Pour the water into a spray bottle. Blend the essential oils in a glass jar. With an eyedropper, add eight drops of this base to the bottle of water. Spray on and let set for at least 15 minutes. No need to rinse.

Pet deterrentYou can also use orange oil to stop cats urinating in the same spot inside the house. Put drops of the oil in a dish, or you can simply peel an orange and scatter the peel around. oven cleaner Cleaning ovens is one of the most toxic things we do in our homes, yet a mixture of baking soda and washing soda can do the job. Mix together half washing soda and half baking soda. Sprinkle the bottom of the oven to cover. Spray with water until very damp and keep moist by spraying every few hours. Let set overnight.

In the morning, scoop it all up along with the grime and rinse. Dishwasher detergent Use 1 tbsp washing soda instead of store-bought dishwasher detergent. Use this one at your own risk as dishwasher manufacturers are quite strict about what you should use. But I’ve used this for years, and my dishwasher is still running fine.

Sink drain cleanerPour 1 cup washing soda into the water as close to the drain as possible. Leave for a while and it should clear. If that doesn’t work, pour in 1 cup baking soda and 3 cups boiling water. And if that doesn’t work throw down 1 cup vinegar. Bathroom Liquid handwash I’m very proud of this as I experimented with the recipe for some time. I love its pretty lemon colour, the glycerin is very moisturising for hands and it has a lovely delicate fragrance from the rosewater. If you’d like a stronger fragrance, just add a few drops of rose essential oil.

The texture takes a bit of getting used to as it’s more jelly than smooth liquid. 250ml boiling water 2 tbsp grated Sunlight soap 2 tsp glycerol 2 tsp rosewater Add the grated soap to the boiling water, stir, then let sit for about 10 minutes until it melts. Next, stir in glycerol and rosewater. When the mixture is smooth, pour into an empty soap dispenser bottle. Do this while its still warm as it will set to a jelly when cold and be quite hard to pour.

Laundry detergent

  • 1.5 litres of water

  • ½ bar sunlight soap grated

  • ½ cup washing soda

  • 50gms borax from the chemist

  • 1 litre hot water

Mix grated soap in a saucepan with 1.5 litres of water and heat on low until dissolved. Stir in washing soda and borax. Stir until thickened and remove from heat. Add 1 litre of hot water to a bucket. Add soap mixture and mix well. Fill bucket with another 5 litres of hot water and mix well. Set aside for 24 hours or until it thickens. Add about 20 drops lavender oil for a nice fragrance. Use ½ cup per load of washing. (This mixture can be gluggy making it hard to measure out, so I fill large empty milk bottles and squeeze it out into a cup.)

Air freshenerWe should avoid using air fresheners with synthetic chemicals in them because technically it means you are polluting your own air. Try this instead, and feel safe in the knowledge that it’s natural. 8 drops lavender oil 4 drops each bergamot and clove oil 2 drops oil of peppermint ½ cup vodka ½ cup distilled water Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well. Spritz into the air four or five times in any areas you feel need freshening, being careful to avoid your eyes. (When I made this on the set of April in the Afternoon, everyone loved it. The smell is gorgeous.)

Floor cleaner I can’t guarantee this won’t streak as I use it on my wooden floorboards and it’s hard to tell, but it’s nice and simple and well worth a go. To 4 litres of hot water add a squirt of Sunlight detergent and a teacup of white vinegar. You can use it on all kinds of floors, including wooden ones, but make sure the mop is wrung out and barely damp. You can also add a few drops of lavender or any essential oil to leave a nice fragrance. Shower cleaner Fill a spray bottle with half water and half white vinegar. Spray on shower doors or anywhere there is soap scum and leave for 5 minutes, then wipe off.

**Toilet cleaner

**Throw 1 cup of baking soda and 1 cup white vinegar into the toilet bowl and watch the mixture explode. Leave it for 10 minutes, then clean with a brush and flush. To finish, put a few drops of tea tree oil on a damp cloth and wipe around the bowl and the seat to provide some anti-bacterial protection.

Green tips: Where can you get all this stuff? Baking soda and vinegar can both be bought in bulk very cheaply from your local bulk store Washing soda, Sunlight soap and Sunlight liquid can be found in the laundry aisle at supermarkets. Borax, rosewater and glycerol are in those white bottles lined up behind the counter at the pharmacy. You can also use cooking rosewater from Asian supermarkets. A NoTE oN BoRAX: This is an alkaline mineral which is toxic in high doses. So keep it out of children’s reach and use sparingly.

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