Nowadays we find everything we need to clean our home in the stores, easily and ready to use. But homemade recipes are an eco-friendly and healthier alternative to the chemical products you buy in the supermarkets.
Besides making a better choice to avoid harmful substances, it’s an opportunity to show and teach the kids how to respect the environment, reduce waste production, and save money. From all the recipes I make at home, I am sharing my favourites with you, as they are not only easy but very effective.
1. Homemade mosquito trap
Mosquitos can smell carbon dioxide from a long distance and repellents usually work to mask our scent to keep the mosquitos away. By making a carbon dioxide trap you can lure the mosquitos away without using harsh chemicals on your family’s skin.
All you need is a clear two-litre plastic bottle, brown sugar, and dry yeast.
First, you will need to cut the top 1/3 of the bottle and invert it back into the bottle, creating a funnel with an opening at the bottom. Then mix and stir 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of dry yeast, and 4 cups of warm water. Once it’s well mixed, give it a good shake and place it anywhere in the house. As it doesn’t contain any dangerous chemicals, it’s safe for children and pets. The yeast reacts with the water and sugar producing carbon dioxide, which is the gas we breathe out, and what the mosquitos are attracted to us for. I usually make 3 or 4 traps and place them in different places to increase their effectiveness.
2. All-purpose cleaner
This is my favourite everyday cleaner recipe and I use it on almost every surface of the house. It’s very simple and incredibly effective, leaving a natural cleaning smell in the house.
You need to collect lemon peels and store them in an airtight jar, pouring over white vinegar or vodka. Let it sit for two weeks to infuse and then strain the peels. I usually add a few drops of citrus essential oil, but it’s optional. Pour it into a spray bottle and start using it around the house.
3. Cleaner for surfaces with mould
This cleaner was a treasure discovery, especially when you live in humid places where mould seems to be everywhere. It’s simple to make and the results are impressive.
To make this mould cleaner you need to mix well 1 litre of water, 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1/2 cup of borax, and 5 drops of eucalyptus oil. Place the mixture in a spray bottle and spray on the surface with mould, letting it dry for a few minutes. Use a cloth to remove any borax residues and the mould is gone.
4. Fruit and vegetable wash
Every supermarket we go to these days we will find so many bottles or sprays (some with high amounts of chemicals) promising to clean the vegetables and fruits for consumption. But before you buy, consider mixing up your own. It’s cheaper, easy to make and you know exactly what ingredients it contains.
My favourite recipe is to mix together 2 cups of cold tap water, 1/4 cup of white vinegar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of baking soda or salt. Pour into a spray bottle and spray your fruits and vegetables 2-3 times, let it rest for five minutes, and rinse off with tap water before consuming.
5. Wood polish and light scratch fix
Wood cleaners and polishes work great for restoring wood, but they’re often quite toxic. After a lot of trial and fail, I found this recipe that really works to both clean and condition wood. Most important, it is safe and natural.
Mix 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1cup of olive oil (almond and jojoba oils are great substitutes), and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar in a spray bottle and shake well. I usually add 3 drops of lemon essential oil to increase the lemon scent, but it’s optional. Spray on wood and rub gently following the wood’s grain with a soft cloth.
Another easy fix for light scratches in the wood is simply to rub a piece of Brazil nut or almond (those I found to work even better) over the scratch on your furniture.
6. Room air freshener
We love to step into a house that smells good. But before opting for the commercial plugins or sprays with artificial scents that may contain harmful ingredients (like phthalates that are released into the air where we inhale them or absorb them through your skin), take a deep breath and consider using a homemade alternative that will be better to your family and the planet.
I’ve tried many natural air freshener recipes, but this is my favourite as it’s simple, cheap and I found that the pleasant smell lasts longer than others.
All you need is a glass jar and few ingredients. Orange slices, cinnamon, and cloves are a mix that has a wonderful aroma that lasts long. Combine the ingredients in a jar or glass container. Cover them with water and heat in a water bath, bringing the water to a simmer, then turning off the flame. It can be reheated to scent your rooms for several days.
For a fresher scent, I love to mix lime or lemon slices, rosemary, mint, and vanilla extract. For a sweeter scent, I mix orange slices, ginger (fresh or powdered), and almond or vanilla extract. Just like the air fresheners you buy, those won’t scent a whole house, so make a few jars to place in different rooms. I like to make these up and keep them on hand in the fridge.
Remember to shake well the bottles before each use as some of the ingredients when stored for some time might sit in the bottom. You can also engage the kids by asking them to create labels for the jars. Whether you want to save money or are trying to reduce the number of store-bought chemicals in your home, making your own products with safe, non-toxic ingredients is a good way to keep your house clean and eco-friendly.
Are you looking for more ways to make your indoor areas healthier? Have a look at our post here about air purifying plants and essential oils.