Updated: 3 days ago
I have been passionate about eco-friendly and sustainable changes to my lifestyle for some time now. It was an especially unique change when I moved into my Hamilton home, since I became responsible for managing a whole home by myself, versus roommates or mummy coming to the rescue. Suddenly toilet paper was no longer just appearing whenever I needed it.. and one day I found myself with no cleaning supplies and an upside down house! At the time I didn't have a car, so walked 30 minutes to the grocery store, and the same on the way back, just lugging home any goodies I bought.
With the motivation to keep a need for products in the home small, I began making my own cleaning products and beauty products.
For cleaning, my goals have been simple- I like simple solutions, chemical-free ingredient listings and to make much of my supplies in-home for convenience.
Top ingredients to have in the home for cleaning:
White vinegar/pickling vinegar. Stinky at first, but once you get the knack for infusing, cleaning becomes a aromatherapy experience :)
Sea salt. I make a strong saline solution for quick use, this is convenient for cooking injuries and certain stains.
Castile soap. I use an essential oil infused brand, Dr. Bronner's for cleaning the toilets, bathtub, surfaces, rug stains and in our laundry. It is also awesome to take camping for dishes and general use.
Essential oils: especially tea tree, clove, citrus, berries, mints
Ingredients to infuse vinegar. This masks smell and boosts cleaning effect: citrus peels, evergreen needles, juniper berries. At first I used to dry these in paper bags near a sunny window, now I use a dehydrator.
Rubbing alcohol. I add this to our air fresheners to help penetrate the air and to sterilize open wounds.
Baking soda. A super oxidizer for intense stains.
Fragrant essential oils, we like champa, dragon blood, vanilla, patchouli, etc. whatever you enjoy the smell of, you can make your own homemade air fresheners
Burning sage, copal and incense. Especially sage is believed to destroy negative energy, bacteria and viruses in the air. I regularly smudge (burn sacred plants) before and after we have company, if something dramatic happens in or around the house and whenever I stretch and want to smile :)
Instruments to clean, such as microfibre cloths, brooms, vacuum? A refillable spray bottle and jars to infuse your concoctions.
One of the most fulfilling things that people can say to me is that "your house smells so fresh" or "the air smells so clean in here" .. I love to hear that and therefore wish more people could trust their own talents into creating simple cleaning products, instead of filling their homes with layers and layers of sprays, creams and aerosols.
Below is my favourite method to make a homemade surface cleaner. We use this spray on our kitchen counter & stovetop, to freshen the place up and also in our bathroom.
The combination of ingredients removes stickiness, grime and is anti-bacterial. That being said, I still take it upon myself to fully soap down hard surfaces with castile soap and water on our deep-cleaning days, but for everyday freshness this is what we use:
INFUSED SURFACE CLEANER
Get a 2L mason jar and fill it half way with your choice of cleaning-agent plants. My favourite blend is evergreen needles & juniper berries (that I clipped and dried from the tree in our backyard) and citrus peels (slice and dry them in a dehydrator or on a plate in a sunny, well-ventilated window).
Next fill the jar with vinegar & wait 2+ weeks. The more time that passes, the more potent this concoction gets. I have been adjusting the same jar for over a year now. Add fresh ingredients here and there, and pull out older ones that have lost their colour and potency.
Add essential oils. I like to add tea tree since I understand it has antifungal properties and that is beneficial for water-laden surfaces, such as our shower and countertops. I also like to add lemongrass or various other fresh smelling oils to add cleaning effect and a pleasant smell. The vinegar will also contain the natural essential oils from the plants you infuse it with.
Transfer into a spray bottle. I like to spray surfaces and then wipe with a damp cloth. Store the jar of infusing plants in a cool corner away from direct light.
The best part about getting into this process is that it is continuous, so once you have the dried ingredients on hand, the only thing you have to remember to keep in the home is vinegar, which is commonly bought in bulk for cheap.
Wouldn't you like to have less items on your grocery list?
Refilling our spray bottle every week is so simple, so I am happy to have less to worry about and then the versatility to change our blend according to season and preference.
Just like many sustainable practices in the home, initially it can seem like more work, but eventually it becomes a groove, rewarding and effective. Then one day comes a shift, "huh, why do I buy something so easy to make at home?"