Lauren McCrostie shares her top three everyday ingredients that can be used for low-waste natural cleaning, DIY beauty and home remedies.
If I were to tell you that your pantry and fridge were already in possession of arguably the greenest, easiest and most natural cleaning products – would you believe me? We skim past the countless benefits and uses of these items – daily and almost unforgivingly. But the humble tub of bicarbonate of soda; bottle of white wine vinegar and lemon are great resources for your DIY cleaning and beauty needs.
Lemons are not limited to act as garnish, nor white wine vinegar to dressings. But bicarbonate of soda is my favourite. This fine white, crystalline salt is mostly known as the key ingredient to whipping up any Mary Berry number – but to place it solely into one category would be doing it a disservice. Not only can it be used as a raising agent; but it masters itself as being a tool in beauty, cleaning, de-odoring and even in relieving medical issues.
BICARBONATE OF SODA (Also known as Baking Soda and Sodium Bicarbonate)
As a natural, accessible, affordable, easy substance to get your hands on it seems criminal to not use it for all its worth. Starting in the kitchen, it is perfect for neutralising the fermentation that occurs when preparing dried beans and pulses for consumption. Next time you whip up some homemade hummus, try adding a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda when soaking your chickpeas to minimise post-hummus bloating and gas.
In the bathroom, you can use it to make you very own zero waste, whitening toothpaste. It is an incredibly easy way to start replacing your cosmetic products with more environmentally-friendly (as less plastic ridden) alternatives. Just up-cycle any empty, clean glass jar and simply mix bicarbonate of soda with a dollop of coconut oil and a few drops of peppermint oil to form a paste – then take a pea-sized amount onto your [preferably bamboo] toothbrush and brush away. See Venetia Falconer’s 3-ingredient all natural teeth whitener recipe.
When added to vinegar and massaged into your scalp, bicarbonate of soda works to cleanse your hair and rid it of any built up product or grease. Opt for apple cider vinegar instead of white wine vinegar and perhaps add in some essential oils to minimise the vinegar smell.
Baking Soda also works at eliminating fumes – if you are brave enough, just pat it straight onto your pits and away you go as it is apparently an amazing deodorant! But for the more apprehensive eco enthusiasts out there, you can try it at eradicating the smells from fridges, toilets and blocked drains.
For cleaning and disinfecting, add a few drops of water to bicarbonate of soda to make a paste, which can be used as an oven cleaner, de-limescale, stain remover, surface and furniture polisher – phew! Combining the management of all these tasks into one product makes your spring clean a far less chemically-abundant task.
Baking Soda is known for is its medicinal and health benefits. As an alkaline, it naturally balances the pH balance of many acidic properties – including heartburn. Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and a squeeze of lemon to 100ml of water to relieve your indigestion. Equally, take a small jar of it on holiday to soothe any insect bites you collect by mixing 1 part soda with 3 parts water and applying the paste to the bite, leave for 10 minutes then wash off.
Lemons work wonders in hair care. You can juice several of them and apply on your locks as a way of naturally lightening it.
Furthermore, the refreshing and revitalising scent of this citrus fruit means its a fabulous deodoriser. You can use it as a device to clean and disinfect bins, toilet bowls, sinks and cutlery.
Limescale on taps and hard surfaces can also be treated with lemon segments; simply rub a lemon on the required area, leave, clean and voila!
WHITE WINE VINEGAR
Distilled white wine vinegar is an equally triumphant cleaner. If your kettle suffers with a chronic case of limescale then fill it up with a generous amount of vinegar, leave to soak overnight before boiling, emptying and cleaning (unless you want a very interesting tasting brew…). It never fails to amaze me how well this works and how much better the water tasks because of it.