Frugal and Green Cleaning

Ah, the cleaning aisle in the supermarket – identifiable from it’s dreadful smell as I dash through the clouds of chemical soup* in the air to grap a new pair of Marigolds (Basics Rubber Gloves actually – you didn’t really think I’d buy a brand name product!).

The stinky cloud in the cleaning aisle is not the only thing that puts me off commercial cleaning products. Ever notice all of the warnings on the back? You know, toxic to aquatic life? Yeah, not for me. This is one of those times where frugal and environmental friendly living intersect. Also, if you’re short on space, or just plain lazy like me, it’s nice to have just a few products that work all over the home than multiple products each performing a very niche job.

Let’s take a tour of the frugal green cleaning cupboard:

Bicarbonate of soda

Cleans, deodorises and scours away all the grime. Perfect for cleaning the bathtub and sink. You can either sprinkle it on dry, or mix it with a little water to make a paste. You can then use some elbow grease to gently remove the grime. You can also give a spritz of white vinegar and use the resulting fizz to help you out whilst you are scrubbing away – I do this when I do the bit around the base of the taps that gets inexplicably gross.

You could buy your bicarb from the baking aisle, but it is defininately cheaper to buy it in a cardboard box from the cleaning section of Wilko. As a bonus, the cardboard box is completely recyclable, unlike the lid and the plastic sleeve on the tubs in the home baking aisle at the supermarket.

White vinegar

Vinegar is the most versatile of the green cleaning products. When I mentioned this to my brother, he was adamant that vinegar would make your house smell like a chip shop. It does, for about ten minutes, and then smells of nothing. To clean the shower screen, I spritz on some vinegar in a spray bottle, then wipe it off with a damp cloth and give it a polish with a dry cloth to get rid of any streaks. I also use this same technique on windows and mirrors.

Vinegar is also excellent for cleaning limescale in your toilet. Bleach just masks the problem by bleaching (duh) the limescale. It works for a short amount of time but the limescale rapidly gets stained and the grotty look returns to your toilet bowl. Vinegar completely gets rid of limescale – simply push out some of the water in the toilet bowl using the brush, or scoop it out with a cup (reserved for this purpose), and then fill the toilet bowl to just above the water line with white vinegar. Leave it overnight or for a whole day to get to work. After leaving it, flush the toilet and then get to work with the toilet brush. The limescale should just flake off. You may need to get in there with an old toothbrush and your Marigolds if there are some parts that are harder to reach. Taa-daa! A new-looking toilet.

Citric Acid

Another descaling wonder from the cleaning cupboard! Can you tell I live in a hard water area? Citric acid works wonders to descale appliances, especially kettles.

Soda crystals

Need to clean your oven? Soda crystals are your best friend. Make up a solution according to the pack instructions and get to work. Watch the grime just wipe off!

Soda crystals are an old-fashioned washing day favourite and with good reason. For really grubby cuffs and collars, or stains, you can soak the clothes in a solution of soda crystals or spray on liquid soda crystals (available from Wilko). Soda crystals also have the bonus of deodorising your clothes when you add a scoop to a wash. A scoop of soda crystals in every wash helps to soften the water, helping to prevent limescale build up and meaning that I can use less washing powder.

Essential oils

Despite their name, not essential! But if you would like to add a little bit of a smell to your home, essential oils are your friend. Some also have anti-microbial properties! Always research the essential oils you choose – not all are suitable for pregnancy or for homes with pets. Some of my favourites are:

  • lavender
  • tea tree
  • rosemary

What are your top tips for frugal and green cleaning?

*Yes, I know everything is a chemical – what I am talking about is the horrible-smelling cloud hanging out in the cleaning aisle. It’s the same as the noxious cloud in the perfume hall at a department store.


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