If it’s not too personal a question to ask, what’s under your kitchen sink? If it’s anything like mine, probably dishwasher tablets, washing up liquid, dishcloths by the dozen, an ancient sink plunger maybe? A bottle of Brasso that, like me, you’ve maybe used twice, a million years ago? (Do I even own anything made of brass??) The emergency candle supply, and possibly, if you are the mother of small people who can smell chocolate at a hundred paces but will *never* think to look under the sink for it, a secret stash of Dairy Milk or my personal favourite, (which even if found, they will turn their noses up at) a Frys Peppermint Cream?
What *used* to be under my kitchen sink is quite a different story. A dozen, at least, (plastic) bottles of randomly coloured, chemically scented cleaning fluids. One for the kitchen surfaces, one for the windows, one for de-greasing the hob, one for the oven (never used, as my oven would attest, should you ever dare to look in it), descaler for the kettle, stuff to make the taps all super shiny, drain cleaner. Rubber gloves (because all those chemicals make me itch just thinking about them). And then the boxes of (plastic) scourers, ten-a-penny and made to be used once or twice and chucked in the bin. Dishwashing brushes and floor scrubbing brushes, made of brightly coloured plastic.
Some time ago, I decided that when the bottles of cleaning stuff were either all used up, or passed on to others who would use them, I’d just not buy any more, and look at alternatives. I found myself quickly returning to the homemade options I’d used long before my children had arrived. Soda crystals and vinegar are second to none for cutting through the grease of the average hob, get my fridge all sparkling, and do a grand job on my laminate flooring. A handful down the plughole with a kettle full of boiling water on top works wonders to keep your drains clear and smelling as nice as drains can smell. Citric acid does an amazing job to descale the kettle, can be bought in a cardboard box relatively cheaply, and is also the best loo cleaner (bar coca cola) that I’ve ever used.
I also use a homemade citrus vinegar spray that is so easy to make and great for cleaning kitchen benches, doors, windows, tiles – it smells amazing too. If you can buy your vinegar in glass bottles, it’s plastic free too, though I still use a plastic spray bottle – a recycled one though! I make mine in a bit of a haphazard, chuck-it-all-in-and-hope-for-the-best kinda way, but will try and dissect my process for you below! If you haven’t time to read my method, have a quick peek at this 40 second video to get a rough idea!
To make your homemade natural kitchen cleaner, you will need a bottle of vinegar, I use plain “white” vinegar, the super clear cheap stuff. Not sure how it will work with other types, but hey, go experiment. For me, at the moment, the cheaper the better. Next, get yourself a kilner jar or glass bottle like the one in this picture. I used the peel of some oranges, limes and lemons – if you don’t eat these things regularly, pop the peel in a bag in the freezer when you do use them, until you have enough. Then simply add the peel to the jar, add your vinegar, and place in a cool, dark space like an airing cupboard or even under the sink, shaking daily (or whenever you remember!) for around a month. Then strain into a spray bottle, putting the spent peels in your compost bin, and you have your own, homemade, stain removing, antibacterial cleaner.
As for things like dishbrushes and scrubbers and sponges, there are so many plastic free alternatives out there. If you’re of a crafty persuasion, you could try knitting or crocheting your own dishcloths from cotton or bamboo yarn. Made this way, and boil washed in a pan on the stove top once in a while, you’ll find they can last for years and years before they need replacing, and can be put in the compost when their time comes. Wooden dishbrushes are now widely available too (mine are from Redecker, and they’re made to last a LONG time!) Plus you can buy washing up liquid from refill shops like The Paddock and Buy The Kilo if you’re in the North East – or check out your local Zero Waste facebook groups for a heads up on similar shops near you.
My biggest rediscovery in all this has been how little we actually need in terms of bottles of cleaning stuff in order to keep our kitchen clean – so it feels really easy to get busy with a bit of a kitchen revolution! Why don’t you assess the contents of that cupboard under your sink now and be part of the growing number of people who are working to reduce waste, reduce their consumption, and help save our planet.
Let me know in the comments how you get on with this if you give my cleaner recipe a try, and feel free to join my Facebook group to share other ideas for reducing plastic and general waste at home.
My blog and everything in it will always be free to inspire and support people to live with less plastic, live more sustainably, live with less, and work to reduce the impact of climate change. It does, however, incur running costs. If you are able to contribute to these costs you are welcome to leave a tip in my tip jar here. If not, please consider sharing this post on your social media platforms. Thanks and love, Kate.