I’ve seen borax pop up in a few homemade household cleaning recipes but I hadn’t appreciated just how many uses for borax there are until I came across this really handy infographic. It shows 21 use for borax around the house! 21! From unclogging drains and cleaning mattresses to inhibiting mould, it seems borax does it all!
Although it’s non toxic and a completely natural substance, borax can be a bit of an irritant to sensitive skin. If you do suffer from sensitive skin, skin allergies, eczema or anything like that then I would avoid using it on anything that’s going to come into contact with your skin on a regular basis (e.g. the carpet cleaning recipe, or the clothes deodoriser recipe). Just to be on the safe side!
Now we’ve got the safety chat out of the way, on to the uses for borax!
If you’re in the UK/EU and you want to track some borax down, please note you’ll only be able to buy “borax substitute”. The reason being a few year ago the EU reclassified the ‘Borate’ group of chemicals that Borax belongs to as a dangerous substance! Apparently borax substitute still has all the same cleaning and laundry uses that original borax had and is pretty much identical, composition wise, but cannot be used for pest control. You’ll still need to store it securely away from children, preferably up high on in a childproof cupboard, and properly labelled, as it’s not a substance you want young children getting their hands on.
And if you’re wondering where to buy borax substitute, I’ve seen it for sale in cardboard boxes in pound shops (in the cleaning aisle) and hardware shops for the princely sum of £1 for a 500g box. The brand is Dri Pak. It’s also available in larger quantities at the excellent Summer Naturals website.
I’m certainly tempted to pick some up and give it a go around my house!
ps: if you are worried about using borax or borax substitute in your home, then I’ve researched a post on is borax safe
I want my home to be clean, but at the same time I don’t really want a cocktail of chemicals in the air that I breathe, or the surfaces that I touch or prepare food on, so I’ve turned to some homemade cleaning products.
There are all sorts of health and environmental dangers associated with using cleaning products, so over the past few years we’ve been trying to cut down on the amount of harsh chemicals in our home. We first switched to Ecover about six years ago, then Method a couple of years ago, and now we’re using a mix of Ecover (for dishwasher tablets and for toilet cleaner) and BioD products (for laundry, and for hand-washing dishes).
Where we can we’ve also started making our own homemade cleaning products, and I thought it would be useful if I shared my instructions for making these chemical free cleaning products. You can make your own homemade cleaning products quite easily and cheaply, that are as effective as any shop bought chemical cleaner, so I’ve got a host of recipes here for your kitchen and bathroom, and for doing laundry and the dishes. They’ll soon have your house sparkling!
First up, select your arsenal of essential oils:
I use these organic Soil Association accredited ones to make my homemade cleaning products with. I’ve got lavender, lemon, sweet orange, peppermint and tea tree. As well as smelling great, I like them because as they’re organic I know there are no hidden chemicals in them from the growing process.
Next, you’ll need a bottle or two of white vinegar. Vinegar is quite a key component in making homemade cleaning products. You can buy white vinegar in the supermarket that you can transfer into a spray bottle, but you can most likely find big bottles of spray vinegar in pound shops. I found mine in Poundland for, you’ve guessed it, £1. You get 750 ml of vinegar which is much better value than the little bottles you find at the supermarket, and you have the convenience of not having to find an empty spray bottle.
* This post was written in 2013 – since then, to reduce plastic, I’ve been buying white vinegar in bulk, which is very economical, and you can refill any empty spray bottle *
Homemade Cleaning Products
For my homemade kitchen cleaner, I add twenty drops of lemon oil and twenty drops of lavender oil to a 50/50 solution of cooled boiled water and vinegar. Lemon is a great degreaser and lavender has brilliant antibacterial properties:
My home-made spray made light work of my dirty worktops. Here you can see the before and after shots:
Sparkling clean, and germ-free without any trace of harsh chemicals! When you use the spray (or any other vinegar based homemade cleaning products) then you do get a smell of vinegar, but that completely disappears once dry, and you’re left with a very light and pleasant scent of the essential oils.
If you have any tough spots of grime or dried in food then I find a light sprinkling of bicarbonate of soda, followed by a spray of your vinegar solution and a good rub helps remove the dirt. If it’s particularly dried on or hard to shift try spraying it with a liberal amount of vinegar and leaving it to soak for 10 minutes before wiping.
I also made bathroom cleaning spray, again using another vinegar spray bottle. This time, to the 50/50 cooled boiled water and vinegar solution I added 20 drops of lavender oil and 20 drops of tea tree oil. Tea tree oil has brilliant antiseptic and anti-fungal properties, making it brilliant for cleaning bathrooms:
I’ve been spraying it on my tiles after showering to inhibit the growth of mould and remove soap scum, and also using it to wipe down the sink and toilet and everything else. Again, it initially smells of vinegar but when it dries you can’t smell it – only a very subtle aroma of tea tree and lavender.
I’ve used vinegar for years as a fabric softener, but I’ve only just started adding essential oils to the vinegar. Simply fill an old jar with vinegar, and add 30 drops of orange oil to your vinegar for softened clothes and a delicate and clean aroma to your laundry, without a hint of vinegar, I promise! With regards to dosage I just fill up to the line on the fabric conditioner drawer of my machine and that seems to work a treat.
Dishwasher Rinse Aid
Vinegar also makes a fantastic rinse aid in your dishwasher – leaving your glasses, cutlery and plates sparkling! I just use the same solution as I do for my fabric softener – making it fantastically multipurpose!
Do you make any of your own homemade cleaning products? Do share in the comments below! I’m always on the lookout for great tips!
Ps: if you enjoyed this then you might also enjoy my post on green cleaning favourites. I’ve been on quite the green cleaning journey and plastic reduction journey since I wrote this post in 2013, and have since shared lots of recipes and methods, that I’ve summarised in my cleaning favourites post.
PPS: I’ve been on ever the green cleaning journey since I published this post AND my post on my green cleaning favourites. In 2018 I wrote a book all about green cleaning, called Fresh Clean Home, which is available to purchase now. Do check it out!
I'm Wendy and welcome to Moral Fibres, a green lifestyle blog. I believe that sustainable living should be hip, not hippie. Here you'll find all sorts of easy hints and tips here for living a greener life that won't compromise your sense of style. As well as the blog I've also written a book on natural cleaning - Fresh Clean Home is out now! Want to know more? Check out the about page for more information or explore the archives using the category tabs above. Say hello at email@example.com. Moral Fibres is always free to read. If you want to support the site's running costs you can buy me a coffee.
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