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Why clean with herbs?

Homemade herbal cleaning products are mostly composed of just one main substance – the cleaning agent – which means that you're not paying for bulking additives, artificial colours or perfumes. You can choose the type and strength of the scent you want; fresh herbs or essential oils almost invariably leave a delightfully fresh, clean smell.

Why clean with herbs?

There is also gathering evidence that links the use of chemical cleaners such as bleach with the development of asthma in both children and adults. Some chemicals can set off allergic reactions or contact dermatitis in sensitive people. And one 2010 US study discovered that women who held cleaning jobs while pregnant had a higher incidence of birth defects in their children.

So, whether you're already committed to a greener way of cleaning or you just want to save money and simplify your life a little, herbal cleaning makes a lot of sense.

Try these two recipes to clean your surfaces and floors, the easy way, with the power of herbs.

All-purpose herb vinegar spray

This all-purpose, environmentally friendly, non-toxic spray is great to have on hand for wiping, cleaning and deodorising almost every surface (except marble). If you don't have any fresh herbs, add drops of essential oil instead.

Ingredients
  • fresh or dried herbs (you can also use herbal tea bags)
  • distilled white vinegar
Preparation
  1. Roughly chop 1 to 2 large handfuls of fresh or dried herbs (such as lemon verbena, peppermint, rosemary, lemon balm or lavender), or place 5 to 10 tea bags in the bottom of a wide-mouthed glass jar.
  2. Add vinegar to fill the jar. Replace the lid, leave for a few days to infuse, then strain out the herbs. (If you are using tea bags, you can gently warm the vinegar before pouring to ensure maximum diffusion.)
  3. Decant into a plastic spray bottle. This spray is perfectly safe and very effective to use at full-strength, but it can also be diluted half-and-half with water for lighter jobs.

Eucalyptus floor wash

With its powerful natural antiseptic, disinfectant and cleaning properties, eucalyptus oil can be put to work in every room of the house. This simple solution can be used on both timber and lino floors. When washing a timber floor, remember not to saturate it. Your mop should be damp, not dripping wet, and the floor should be well-swept or vacuumed before mopping.

Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon eucalyptus oil
  • 2 tablespoons methylated spirits
  • 5 litres hot water (about half a bucket)
Preparation
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bucket.
  2. Wring out a mop in the solution and use it to damp mop the floor. Leave to dry; you don't need to rinse.


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