Natural Spring Cleaning

Natural Cleaning

When the time for spring cleaning comes around again lets ditch all those nasty chemicals and clean effectively without putting our health at risk. I am a minimalist at heart so I like to use the least ingredients possible! You’d be surprised at just how little you need to clean your house effectively. In trials looking at the germ killing skill of vinegar was found to be just as effective as commercial cleaning products. In our house we clean as follows;

  • dusting – damp cloth
  • windows / glass – hot water, washing up liquid, lemon juice / vinegar and then dry vigorously with a dry cloth
  • floors – hot water, washing up liquid, lemon juice / vinegar
  • uncoated wooden – a blend of olive oil / coconut oil and vinegar applied with kitchen paper
  • fridge – hot water, lemon juice / vinegar
  • microwave – microwave a bowl of water with lemons / vinegar for 2 minutes and wipe with a damp cloth
  • wooden chopping boards – half a lemon and salt
  • pots – steel wool, washing up liquid and water. This works for us but if you’ve stained aluminium bakeware here are some tips to naturally clean stained aluminium.
  • metal cooker hood filter – I’ve also seen this promising homemade non-scrub cleaner for a cooker hood filter. I can’t test it myself because I don’t have a container large enough to fit our filter so I use a steam cleaner borrowed from a friend.
  • stainless steel – whatever you do don’t use oil on stainless steel. I followed this tip once and it caused huge problems for me leading to a length job to degrease them. If you need to polish clean stainless steel the best thing is a damp soft cloth followed by dry soft cloth. If you need to clean stainless steel of grease then use dry bicarbonate of soda to remove the oil from the pores in the metal and then wipe with vinegar to dissolve the bicarbonate of soda and remove all grease, then polish with dry soft cloth.
  • oven – warm water, washing up liquid, steel wool, a Stanley blade and elbow grease
  • bath / washbasin – mix bicarbonate of soda and water into a paste, apply with a damp cloth, rinse clean
  • toilet bowl – bicarbonate of soda on kitchen paper and elbow grease
  • grout – mix bicarbonate of soda and water into a paste, apply with an old toothbrush, rinse clean
  • drains – hot water and salt

You can add essential oils to any of the above if you’d like. It won’t affect the cleaning power. I just couldn’t be bothered. It’s worth noting that limonene which is added to most cleaning products and present naturally in all citrus fruits converts to formaldehyde, a know carcinogen, when used indoors. For this reason it is always advisable to avoid adding juice from citrus fruits to DIY cleaning products if possible or to ensure a window is open when you do.

The washing up liquid (dish soap) that we buy by Lilly Eco, which we can get refills of in the Food Co-op in Kilmainham in Dublin 8 or Noms in Dublin 7.

It’s certified as being completed biodegradable and made in Ireland! It’s also free of phosphates, E.D.T.A. (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid), Petroleum-derived Additives, Chemical Plasticisers, Formaldehyde, Glycerin or Glycerine, Lanolin, Sodium Tallowate, Synthetic Dyes, Synthetic Perfumes and Titanium Dioxide. It doesn’t contain SLS, which is said to harm marine life. Instead they use the surfactants SLES or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (non ionic), Cocoamidopropyl Betaine (anionic) or Alkypolyglugoside – Lauryl Myristyl (amfoteric) in their ranges. I confirmed this information by email with the company owner because they don’t currently have it on their website. She say’s it’s on the (long) list of things to do!

Other brands of eco washing up liquid include Ecoelite (Ireland – made with 100% natural ingredients using a gravity pull system, which means no electrics are used in the filling, boxing or labeling of the bottles. All products have been laboratory tested and are proven to kill bacteria, pathogens, mould and germs.

And Bio D (UK) source all of the ingredients for their vegan plant-based products, which are made in the UK from from reputable sources and have full traceability. They are also a member of Sedex – the global organisation which drives improvements in ethical and responsible business practices – and are registered with ISO14001, which means they are recognised for ‘putting environmental management at the heart of what they do to achieve sustainable success.’ You can read a list of what they leave out of their products here. I’ve used some of their products and have found them to be very effective.

If you can’t source these brands then the EWG guide to Healthy Cleaning is a useful resource and on their website you can search for the ‘healthy rating’ of products.

To date I’ve been using microfibre cloths to clean stainless steel and glass but having heard that fibres from microfibre cloths are polluting our oceans I’m on the hunt for a less polluting option. I’ll update this blog when I find it.





Published by Elaine Butler

I am a circular design consultant helping manfacturers prepare for the circular economy

6 thoughts on “Natural Spring Cleaning

  1. Great post, thanks Elaine! I especially love your oven tip – it really works! Like you, I want fewer ingredients – makes cleaning simpler and I feel happy when I open my cleaning cupboard to see mostly empty space. Once I’ve used up my current batch of homemade cleaner, I’m going to experiment with using only water for jobs that aren’t very dirty. I’m currently using diluted washing up liquid to clean my toilets and it seems to work fine (I have soft water). I’m reusing an old washing up liquid bottle which I fill about about halfway with wash up liquid and then top up with water, squirt it around the bowl/under the rim and scrub with a brush.


    1. Yes, it’s amazing how few chemicals we need to clean. I think we’ve all been bamboozled by ads convincing us that we need a list of scientific ingredients to keep our houses clean and healthy. We’ve been cleaning without chemicals for nearly 10 years now and we haven’t been killed off by bacteria yet!


  2. Hi Elaine, love this post! was just wondering, you know when dust accumulates in grooves in wood like cupboards, how do you get that out? like its too dense just to get out by dusting?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: