Annemarie and I have been using natural cleaners and homemade skincare products for a few years now. We’ve even managed to convert some of our family members too.
We started doing it when we realised how damaging the chemicals we use around the house can be. And it's not just the environment, they are harmful to us too.
If you think that everything that goes down the drain ends up in the ocean it’s pretty scary when you’re standing over the loo with a container of bleach in your hand.
White vinegar with orange peel
Two of our staples for cleaning are white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda (baking soda). The vinegar smells a bit when you first use it, but once it’s dry it’s fine. We have a little trick we use to make it smell better though.
If it’s really stubborn you could have a go at it with a plunger, but we’ve never had one that didn’t respond to the vinegar and bicarb treatment.
We have a great tip for cleaning limescale from toilets too, but I’m not sure that I should mention it on here. I would hate to be sued by a corporate giant. Shoot us an email if you really want to know.
One of my favourites is homemade toothpaste. I’m going to tell you how I make it, but I wouldn’t really call it a recipe. It’s a bit hit and miss because I go by feel and taste rather than measuring the ingredients.
All you need is some coconut oil, some bicarbonate of soda, a little sea salt and a drop or two of food-grade peppermint oil.
We use expeller pressed oil which we get from a shop on eBay. It’s much cheaper and it doesn’t taste of coconut.
Put some coconut oil into a mixing bowl. Add enough bicarb to make a thickish paste. If your oil is very soft when you start don’t make it too thick or you’ll end up with a solid brick of toothpaste which will be difficult to use.
Mix in a pinch of sea salt. Salt is a great antiseptic but you don’t want too much or your toothpaste will taste horrible. I actually don’t mind mine being a bit salty, but it takes a bit of getting used to. It’s important to use sea salt though as the mineral content is closer to that of your teeth.
Finally, add a drop or two of peppermint oil. Test a little bit on the tip of your tongue to see that you have the balance right. Once you brush your teeth with it you’ll know if it feels too oily or too dry and you can make adjustments.
This is much easier to mix on a warm day as the coconut oil will be soft, or even liquid. On a cooler day I stand the container of oil in a bowl of warm water to soften it up first.
I keep my toothpaste in a small glass spice container. It’s a good size and is easy to take on my travels. I’d recommend not using a garlic one like I did though. The first couple of batches tasted a bit interesting. Oh well, it kept the vampires away.
To use it just take a bit out on a teaspoon and spread it onto your brush. If you plan to dip your brush into it it’s best to give everyone their own container.
Does it work? I know the toothpaste manufacturers are going to hate this, but yes, it does. In fact it works much better than the toothpastes I used to use. I no longer have bleeding gums or sensitivity, and even coffee stains are no match for this stuff. I love it.
Lip balm and skin moisturiser - This is so simple to make and it works well too. All we do is mix one part coconut oil and one part organic shea butter.
The shea butter doesn’t have the nicest smell, but a few drops of your favourite essential oil will soon fix that. I like rosemary and Annemarie uses lavender.
Coconut oil also has a natural sunscreen. It’s a low SPF though so if you have sensitive skin don’t rely on this alone.
Make your own natural cleaners, beauty products and medicines
If you're interested in having a go at making your own natural cleaners, skincare products and even medicines, Claire Goodall has written a brilliant book with loads of recipes for everyday products.
It's fully illustrated and has over 215 recipes and tips to get you started in your quest for a more environmentally and health friendly life.