Our new (super old) farmhouse comes with a barely functional septic tank (cesspool is actually the right term here). If we want the thing to work, which we do, we can’t use any chemicals in the house or it will kill the good bacteria that we want. It seems step three of my all-natural, plastic-free journey came sooner than I expected.
Reevaluating how we clean the house, how many plastic bottles and how many chemicals we use has been really interesting and making the switch from chemical cleaners to all-natural ones isn’t easy. Our expectations of what cleaning is, how clean something should be and what it all will smell like in the end are deeply ingrained within us and it is a process that we can delicately, respectfully and gently flow through and the results will be discovered along the way.
The whole family must be considered when taking on this challenge. Not everyone in the family will be fans of the all-natural cleaning experience in the beginning. Or ever. Be prepared for a little cynicism from the more vocal of your family members.
I began by researching natural cleaning products. The ones in our bio/organic shops here are so super expensive and are still often in plastic spray bottles. I found recipes online for vinegar based cleaners, but my family hates the smell of vinegar, and I really was skeptical if it could clean all the surfaces that need cleaning.
What motivated me though, was the idea that I could make the cleaning concentrate myself, it could be actually edible, wouldn’t harm anything, could be put into repurposed plastic spray bottles that once held our “normal” cleaning products and could be effective.
Fill the jar 2/3 full with orange peels
Roughly chop up the herbs
Fill the rest of the jar with the herbs
Fill to the brim with the vinegar
Cover with baking paper and a rubber band
Let sit for 8-10 weeks
Check occasionally that all of the plant material is covered with vinegar
Decant into clean spray bottles
Fill spray bottle 1/3 with the cleaning solution
Add 10 drops of essential oil
Fill to the top with water
Shake well before using
I have now used this cleaner exclusively for 4 weeks. It does take a bit getting used to the vinegar smell. I am still looking to rework the recipe to help lighten that particular scent.
I find this cleaner super effective, it has cleaned up the kitchen, bathroom, floors, cat vomit, carpets, cat vomit again and mirrors. I was really surprised how well it cleaned glass and left no streaks. It has anti-bacterial and degreasing properties.
My family is using it as well, with varying degrees of annoyance at the vinegar scent. It doesn’t last, the aroma is surprisingly short-lived, but it is something to think about when making this change.
It feels good to use this natural cleaner. I feel like it is making a difference for our family and in some small way, for the planet. I encourage you to give it a try, and if you have any ideas about how to improve this recipe, please share them.