Valerie O’Connor looks at the wondrous uses of common ingredients.
My youngest son loves to comment on how many bottles of stuff I have in the bathroom.
“They’ve all been there for years too”, he mumbles, pointing at tubes and pots of stuff, free gifts of goo and lipsticks that never saw the light of day.
Since he started pointing this out, I have to agree with him and every few days I wander in and chuck a few items into the bin.
Then I go out and buy some more, I can’t help it, I just love nice-smelling bathroom stuff.
Happily, I’ve made much better progress in this department when it comes to household cleaning products. When it comes to spending money on these, I’m so filled with a miserly resentment, as I calculate that I could easily buy a pair of sparkly, lurex ankle socks for the price of a bottle of Mr Muscle, it isn’t really a problem.
As I mentioned in a previous article, I’ve been cleaning my oven for years using only bread soda and vinegar, so while I’m at it, why not keep going with a few more naturally made, cleaning ‘hacks’?
I always promised myself that if I won the lotto I would have a laundry room, where a couple of hot minions spent their time doing all the washing, magically air-drying everything, ironing and putting everything back in spick and span wardrobes.
In as much as I have accepted that I am not Beyoncé, I have also accepted this will never happen, and I will never occupy an uncluttered ‘white’ environment.
However, I can clean my little house in a cleaner way, one that won’t poison me or the world with poisonous chemicals and won’t choke me on overbearing smells of laundry detergent.
Buying cleaning products is a habit, naturally led by the desire to have a clean and safe environment.
However, a few handy household things can be put to great use.
Salt is one of these things.
You know when your tea and coffee cups develop horrible brown staining around their insides?
The easiest way to get rid of this in double quick time is with some cheap table salt, just throw some salt into each cup, rub it around their insides and rinse.
Sometimes a nasty niff creeps up from the sink in my kitchen, I don’t even want to think about what’s down there so a good way to avoid build up of gunk is to pour salt mixed with hot water down the kitchen sink regularly to deodorize and keep grease from building up.
If you get those white rings from glasses on your nice wooden table, gently rub a thin paste of salt and vegetable oil on the white marks caused by glasses and hot dishes.
Cast-iron pots and pans can be cleaned with a good sprinkling of salt and paper towels, this keeps them nicely seasoned too.
A mix of salt and soda water can be used to wipe out and deodorise the inside of your fridge, keeping it free from chemical cleaners.
I’ve recently been blown away by a product that’s been around for millennia, If you haven’t heard of Dr Bronner’s Castille Soap then you have to get your hands on some and then you can stop buying about 100 bottles of other stuff.
Dr Bronner’s magical soap was invented in the 50s and it’s surprising that it isn’t more famous, given everything it can do.
Go and get some from a health food shop or a shop selling natural cosmetics and cleaning products like the amazing Alchemist Earth in Limerick.
This liquid soap can be used for literally thousands of things, it doesn’t contain any sodium laurel sulphates, which is the stuff that makes things go foamy, but it is invigoratingly zingy and uplifting.
You can use it to wash your face, as a shampoo, in the bath and shower of course and also to shave with.
They do a peppermint that can be used instead of toothpaste (did you know that toothpaste isn’t meant to be swallowed, it’s not very good for you?).
Then on to the kitchen.
Castille soap can be used instead of laundry detergent, to do the dishes, mop the floor, clean windows, clean the inside of the toilet and the outside of your dog.
You can dilute it significantly and use it as an insect spray on your houseplants and it will nuke any ant hills you may have too.
If you’re lucky enough to be heading off backpacking, take the lavender version and wash with it. It will greatly reduce your chances of being feasted on by bugs too.
The castille liquid soap is made mainly from organic oils, coconut, olive and hemp plus different essential oils depending on which fragrance you go for.
I love the almond oil one which smells like amaretto, but if I was buying a good all-rounder I’d go for the lavender.
I haven’t washed my hair with it, probably a better option for a man.
I’ll do it and report back!
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved