Home and Garden

Home and Garden, Natural Cleaning

A Plastic-Free Cleaning Hack (No Vinegar Required!)

plastic-free cleaning hack

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Who Loves A Plastic-Free Cleaning Hack?

I certainly love a good plastic-free cleaning hack.  I make most of my own homemade cleaning products, a lot of which are made without plastic.

Then there are the cleaning products that are made with vinegar.  Now, I love white vinegar and buy my vinegar in bulk, but of course, it comes in a five-litre plastic carton.

I use white vinegar a lot in my cleaning and laundry, so for me, it’s good environmental practice to purchase bulk white vinegar rather than individual plastic bottles of chemically dubious shop bought cleaning products.

However, I have had people ask me if there is a plastic-free way to buy white vinegar in large volumes. The simple answer so far is there is no way to buy white vinegar in bulk sizes in anything but plastic.  Vinegar corrodes metal, and a five-litre glass bottle would be difficult to transport and prone to breakage.

Even if you buy vinegar from a packaging-free shop, that vinegar probably arrived at the shop in a five-litre plastic carton because there’s no other easy way to transport 5 litres of vinegar in anything but plastic. Plastic it is, sadly.

However, I recently discovered a clever plastic-free cleaning hack from Dri-Pak that acts as a brilliant white vinegar substitute.  It also had the added benefit that it doesn’t smell like vinegar if you or a family member is a little nose sensitive to white vinegar.

What is it?  A humble £2 cardboard box of Citric Acid*.

plastic-free cleaning

With this little plastic-free box of wonder, you can create vinegar-free cleaning sprays for your home, or use it in place of vinegar in most natural cleaning recipes that call for vinegar.

What is Citric Acid?

Citric acid is an acid compound found naturally in citrus fruits, particularly lemon and limes, but can also be formulated by fermenting sugars. Visually, it looks a lot like sugar.

Its name sounds a little scary, but it’s actually a key component in home-brewing beer, and in bath bombs.  Because it’s naturally found in food; used in food and drink production; and also easily biodegrades, then it’s 100% safe to use around the home in green cleaning with a few caveats for safe making and usage, of course (see below).

How to Make a Plastic-Free Vinegar Substitute

cleaning with citric acid

Ingredients & Equipment Required

  • 500 ml hot water (boil first, and then allow to cool for 10 minutes)
  • A measuring jug and spoon
  • 2 tablespoons citric acid – I buy my boxes of Dri-Pak citric acid online from Big Green Smile* – they conveniently arrive in plastic-free packaging.  The citric acid box is even wrapped in a compostable bag, in case of spillage in transit, that I then use for kitchen scraps.  Alternatively, for a local supplier, try homebrew shops, Asian supermarkets, chemists, or hardware shops.
  • 500 ml spray bottle – recycle an old glass or plastic bottle – glass vinegar bottles are ideal –  and spray nozzle, or you can purchase a glass spray bottle here*.
  • Optional: a few drops of your favourite essential oil


Pour the hot water into your measuring jug.

Stirring well, dissolve the citric acid in the hot water.

Add 20 drops of essential oil if required.  I went for 10 drops of lemon essential oil* and 10 drops of rosemary essential oil for a Mediterranean scented cleaning spray but feel free to use what you have to hand.  Lavender essential oil and tea tree essential oil are both great anti-bacterial options, for example.

Decant the mixture into your spray bottle and off you go!  How’s that for a clever plastic-free cleaning hack?!

What Can You Clean With Citric Acid?

Citric acid is a great all-round cleaner.  It kills bacteria, mould, and mildew, and is brilliant for general disinfecting and cleaning.  Where it comes into its own is that it’s really effective at removing soap scum, hard water stains, calcium deposits, lime, and rust.

I cleaned my glass shower screen with the cleaning spray and a cloth so you can see for yourself how effective this citric acid cleaning spray can be – I know I love a good before and after:

before and after cleaning with citric acid

Left – shower screen before cleaning; right – shower screen after cleaning with citric acid spray.  

You can clean all surfaces with citric acid with the exception of stone, marble, and granite.  You’ll want to make a stone-safe cleaning spray for this job, the recipe of which can be found on page 34 of Fresh Clean Home.

Safety First

Whilst Citric Acid is a natural ingredient, it is still a chemical, and the powder can still cause damage and irritation if handled incorrectly.  I prefer to use it in a well-ventilated area – breathing in citric acid can cause respiratory symptoms, such as a cough, shortness of breath, and a sore throat.  Citric acid can also irritate your skin and eyes, so take care when handling the powder not to spill it or rub your eyes before washing your hands.

And, as with any cleaning product, homemade or otherwise, always keep both the citric acid, and any homemade cleaning spray, away from curious pets and/or children.

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Ad | Three Things to Think About Before You Buy An Electric Vehicle

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Today let’s chat electric vehicles and the three things you need to think about before you buy an electric vehicle. I’m concentrating on using electric vehicles at home – if you are looking for specific advice on electric vehicles for businesses and electric vehicle charging for business then bear in mind that your considerations might be slightly different.

1. New or secondhand?

One of your top considerations should be whether you buy a brand new or secondhand electric vehicle.

Newer electric vehicles are likely to be able to cover an extended range before needing charging, due to ongoing battery life improvements. This will come at a cost – expect to spend more on a new electric vehicle compared to a secondhand one. Depending on where you live there may be interest-free loans or other incentives available to help towards the cost – ask the dealer and do your research locally.

Secondhand electric vehicles are not only cheaper but also more environmentally friendly. According to a study by Toyota in 2004, 28% of carbon dioxide emissions of a vehicle over its lifetime can occur during the manufacturing process and transport of the vehicle to the dealership. Buying secondhand therefore is a better choice environmentally, however, as mentioned above, the range your vehicle can cover may be reduced.

2. How far do you normally travel?

For most people, an electric vehicle is normally more than capable of covering your day to day journeys with ease, without the threat of running out of battery between charges.

If you regularly travel longer journeys – more than around 150 miles a day – you will need to work out if you are able to factor in at least a thirty-minute breaks to be able to charge up your vehicle at a rapid-charge point (where you can charge your battery by up to 80% in around 20-40 minutes) and that there are rapid-charge points convenient to your regular route. This time will be longer if you cannot access a rapid-charge point and need to use a slower charge point, or need to wait to access a charging point.

3. Where are you going to charge your electric vehicle?

For most people, being able to charge your electric vehicle at home is the preferred solution. It costs around £1000 to have an electric vehicle charging point installed in your home, however in some parts in the country grants of up to £800 are available to help towards the cost – so it pays to do your research.

If you live in a flat, or don’t have any off-street parking such as a garage or driveway, then you will need to do research into public charging stations near you. Zap, a map of UK public charging points, is useful for this.

Things to consider include how many charging points are there near your home; if charging points tend to be available at the times that you might want to charge your vehicle; if there are any parking restrictions and or costs associated with parking there to charge your vehicle; and if the charge points are rapid-charge or if they take longer to charge your vehicle.

Would you buy an electric vehicle if you could? Do you already drive one? If so, do share your experience in the comments below.