Can you do eco friendly cleaning on a budget?

 

eco friendly cleaning

Have you every considered eco friendly cleaning products? Maybe you have made your own? I am sure I am not the only one looking at a gentler way to clean the house. However, can you do it on a budget?

A chemical cocktail

Many of us use a multitude of household cleaners. One for the bathroom, another for the kitchen. Something for the oven and a different product for the sink. Window cleaning sprays, powders to sprinkle on the carpets, bleaches and toilet cleaners, spray polishes, laundry products, dishwasher tablets, washing up liquids and floor cleaners all combine to make a chemical cocktail in our homes that can’t be good for us. We then add to this indoor pollution by plugging in air fresheners! Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.

All of the chemicals in these various products, not to mention the plastic bottles they tend to arrive in, also have potentially negative implications for the wider environment. In addition, you can spend a small fortune on this stuff! Buy less and spend less.

So, how can we reduce this chemical cocktail and create a healthier environment for ourselves, our families and the planet?

Reduce the number

eco friendly cleaning

You can reduce the number of chemicals you use when cleaning simply by using fewer products. Our great grandparents would have been totally befuddled with the choice. They cleaned with carbolic soap, soda crystals, hot water and elbow grease. I am not saying there was no room for improvement, but it is an illustration of how we got by perfectly well without so many detergents and cleaning products.

A general purpose cleaning spray can be used in the kitchen and the bathroom, for example! A big, cheap bottle of disinfectant in a bowl of hot water will do all your surfaces and floors.

Make your own

I make my own eco friendly cleaning spray from time to time. It’s not as powerful on really dirty areas but I try not the let the house get that bad. You can use products from your larder, such as lemon juice, white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda to clean pretty much anything. Cass over at Diary of a Frugal Family makes her own window cleaning spray and even an alternative to Febreze!

I have used a vinegar and water mix instead of a window spray or furniture polish for years and it works perfectly well. In addition, I have a small bottle of linseed oil to put on wooden surfaces every now and again.

Making your own eco friendly cleaning products saves you lots of money and is much kinder to Planet Earth.

Buy eco friendly cleaning products

Not everybody has time to make their own eco friendly cleaning stuff, of course. But there are so many products available, even for those of us on a budget.

I was amazed to find Carbolic Household Soap still available, for example. Maid Simple Laundry Soap is good for removing stains before washing or for hand washing clothes. It is also great as a  laundry wash when travelling.

Soap Nuts or Ecoeggs are also great eco friendly alternatives to standard laundry liquids, although I am not convinced they work well on really dirty items. They do a lot of washes for your money though.

eco friendly cleaning

In the course of researching this post, I was sent some natural non-bio washing powder and dishwasher powder to try. Both are from LabNatu and are free from chemical additives, bleaches and petroleum. They are 100% natural and the ingredients are organic. I was very impressed with them both. They cleaned well and smelled lovely. Both are available from Beauty Naturals at £7 for a 500g bag, but if you buy before the end of August you can get 25% off this. Incidentally, check out their whole range of beauty and home products! I was very impressed and most items are not overly expensive.

Ecover is another favourite of mine for really effective eco friendly cleaning. They use plant based ingredients and, although they do use plastic packaging, say they are on a mission to stop their use of virgin plastic. I currently use their all purpose cleaner, multi-action spray and toilet cleaner, which I bought when they were on offer in Sainsbury’s. Along with my vinegar spray I need very little else for my eco friendly cleaning routine. I use them quite sparingly as they are pretty powerful.

Yes, I could go back to buying all the cheapest cleaning stuff from Aldi (and I still will if my budget gets really tight), but whilst I have the option I am happy to pay a little more for eco friendly cleaning products.

Eco friendly garden cleaning

You can also get eco friendly products for the garden too. I was recently sent some Ecofective path, patio and decking cleaner and Ecofective Safe to Clean general outdoor cleaner to review. The latter worked well on our bench on the patio. It is safe to use around children, pets, wildlife and ponds and uses friendly bacteria to get rid of the dirt. They do a whole range of green gardening products, which look quite interesting.

Think about the packaging

Buy laundry powder rather than liquid, as it comes in a biodegradable cardboard box. Buy soap in solid rather than liquid form and there will be no plastic bottle to recycle. White vinegar tends to come in glass rather than plastic bottles, which is another good reason to use it. Make sure packaging is recyclable then ensure you recycle it! Avoid products that are ridiculously over packaged. It might be a silent protest, but maybe manufacturers will stop doing it if we all refuse to buy these things.

Do you try to avoid too many chemical nasties in your home? Which eco friendly cleaning products do you find effective?

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Cheap children’s activities that won’t cost the Earth 

This was first written for Zoe over at EcoThriftyLiving. The school holidays will soon be upon us and you may be on the lookout for some cheap children’s activities. I hope these eco-friendly suggestions help.

Cheap Children's Activities

Cheap children’s activities

 Leaf printing

This is a lovely old fashioned activity.  Leaves are easy to find wherever you live. It is really two cheap children’s activities in one as you will need a fun walk in the fresh air to collect the leaves first! Choose plenty of different shapes of leaf and don’t pick up the brittle ones as they will crumble too quickly.

Paint is cheap too, especially if you buy the powdered stuff and mix it yourself.  Simply paint the leaves in different colours and press them onto card or paper. Very simple and effective.

Pond dipping

I loved doing this with my kids. Obviously you need to pay attention when you mix kids with water. All you need is a body of water – your own or a neighbour’s pond is a good starting point – a sieve, a jam jar and a large light coloured tray. There are some very good instructions on the Freshwater Habitats Trust website.

Recycled crafts

Save toilet roll tubes, sweet wrappers, bits of wool, wrapping paper, foil, fabric, etc and make a craft box. Invest in some PVA glue, some glitter and any other craft supplies you find at reasonable prices. On a cold, wet day your craft box will come into its own, allowing your children to be messy and creative.

You can take a more organised approach to what you are making and have a look on Pinterest. It is a fantastic source of inspiration and there are loads of ideas for crafts and other cheap children’s activities for every occasion.

Geocaching

The modern day treasure hunt, geocaching is hugely popular and very addictive. You used to have to purchase a GPS device to take part, but now there are apps available for your smart phone very cheaply. Some are even free. There is a great beginner’s guide to geochaching on the Ordnance Survey website.

 Beach combing

Cheap Children's Activities
If you are lucky enough to live near enough to the sea or are having a beach holiday, beachcombing is so much fun. Finding little treasures such as shells, sea glass and pretty stones costs nothing and kids love it. They can explore the wildlife in the rock pools whilst you are there. I always like to take a spare carrier bag to pick up any rubbish on the beach as well. I find this maddening!

Charity shopping/boot sales

I love a summer boot sale. You can buy pretty much anything at a fraction of the as new price. Charity shops aren’t as cheap, but you are supporting a charity, of course, and they are still great places to find bargains. Both offer an inexpensive opportunity to teach your children about money and budgeting. Buying second-hand is also good for the environment as you extend the useful life of the items you buy and stop them going to landfill. I used to give my daughters five pounds each and let them spend it as they wished. However, they weren’t allowed to go on the very expensive inflatables you tend to find at the boot sale these days! This was a pleasant way to while away some time and their finds entertained them back at home too.

Visit your local wildlife trust nature reserve

Joining and visiting a wildlife trust is a superb way to encourage an appreciation of nature in your children, as well as supporting the preservation of wild spaces. They offer the chance to run around and let off steam as well as to learn about the wildlife in your area. The Trusts are a campaigning organisation and have huge influence.  Find your nearest Wildlife Trust reserve here.

Delve into a museum

One of the best decisions this government has ever made was to make entry to our national museums free. They are a fabulous way to teach your family about art and history. One of our favourites is the Natural History Museum in London, but there are lots of smaller local museums that may be free too. Have a look on your council website. You can find UK museums here. We have a lovely little toy museum and a natural history museum locally, both of which have free entry.

Have a cookery session

Children love to cook! There are so many reasons why you should teach yours this essential life skill. At its most basic level, it is fun and will while away an afternoon or two. However, it also gives you the opportunity to discuss where food comes from and slip in some information about good nutrition. Cooking from scratch is cheaper and healthier than buying packaged meals and allows you to avoid excess packaging. You could let your kids plan a meal and buy the ingredients as well, so that they get that food costs money. If you want to read about more reasons for teaching your children to cook have a look here.

Plant something

You don’t have to have a garden to grow things with the children. Cress is so easy to grow on your windowsill, along with various herbs. You can also attempt to sprout avocado seeds or try Zoe’s instructions on how to regrow celery.  If you are fortunate enough to have a vegetable patch, involve your children and give them a bit of earth to grow a few bits in. They will get the same satisfaction as you do from growing their own food.

Having fun with your children doesn’t always have to involve a huge amount of expense. With these ideas for cheap children’s activities you may find the most enduring memories you make are those that cost very little.

 

Dreaming of a plastic free life

I have been heartened recently to see the general public starting to get revved up about the dangers of plastic rubbish on our wildlife. David Attenborough and his team on the wonderful TV series Blue Planet II seemed to kick start this. Images of birds feeding plastic to their chicks and marine life throttled by the rings from beer cans do tend to pull on the heartstrings.Now it seems that every other news programme or article features people clearing rubbish from beaches or reports of school children dumping the single use water bottles for reusables. Instagram is full of folk living plastic free lives, or at least attempting to reduce their use of plastic items.

Being plastic free is not mainstream

plastic free

Photo courtesy of @strawlessinchico. Check them out on Instagram!

It is tempting to think the anti-plastic campaign is becoming mainstream. However, if I look around my office I see single use bottles on many of my colleague’s desks. Lots of them turn up in the morning with plastic lined disposable coffee cups from a well known coffee chain. To my annoyance, I frequently pull plastic and other recyclables out of the general waste bins in our kitchen area and put them in the recycling bin.

When I go to the supermarket, I see little evidence of a reduction in plastic packaging. Very few items are available in glass or cardboard. Practically every non-canned item is packed in plastic. It’s tricky even to buy your fruit and vegetables loose some of the time. If you can, they are sometimes more expensive! Paper bags are rarely offered, except for mushrooms. Even if shoppers are really motivated to reduce plastic in their lives, manufacturers and retailers aren’t making it easy for us!

I have been carrying my own reusable carrier bags for years. It made me very happy when the 5p levy was introduced on plastic bags in shops, but would prefer it retailers were only allowed to sell reusable fabric ones. Shoppers would soon get into the habit of carrying a couple if they had to pay more for them.

plastic free

Plastic free shopping costs more

Plastic free shopping involves taking your own containers to the butcher, baker or greengrocer. Let’s face it, how many of these independent shops survive? If you live somewhere trendy you might have a plastic free food store where everything is sold loose. These are great (if a little pricey), but my nearest one is 50 miles away. I also don’t have time to go from shop to shop. I work full time, as many of us do, so one trip a week to the supermarket is all that is feasible. Because we need to stick to our budget, Aldi is our supermarket of choice and it’s full of goods carefully wrapped in layers of non-recyclable plastic film. Buying cheaper seems to involve more plastic sadly.

Even my local market – which used to give you everything in paper bags – now throws it all in plastic, unless I manage to stop them first!

A glimmer of hope

All isn’t lost. There are faint glimmerings of hope for a plastic free life. Iceland, for example, is the first supermarket to pledge to get rid of plastic packaging in their own range foods by 2023. This is great news!

I hope the other supermarkets follow suit. What stance are they taking currently?

Aldi states: ‘…in March 2018, we created a wide-ranging packaging reduction strategy and committed to ensuring that all packaging on our own-brand products will be recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2022’.

The Co0p says: ‘Our long term ambition is for all packaging to be recycled where possible’.

Sainsbury’s policy states: ‘We’ve agreed to hit a series of ambitious targets by 2025, including making 100% of our plastic reusable, recyclable or compostable.’

Tesco has pledged to ban all non recyclable plastic packaging by 2019.

This all sounds like a drop in the plastic filled ocean. What about all the products they sell that aren’t own brand?

The solutions?

Sadly, I don’t believe retailers or the general public will do enough to reduce single use plastics – and the subsequent damage to the environment, our health and wildlife – unless they are forced to by Government. It is up to us to pressurise our politicians to do more!

I would love to see a return to deposit return schemes. It was quite a thrill as a kid to collect up glass bottles  and take them back to the corner shop for pocket money! It might even get some of our children off their games consoles…

Greenpeace are currently running a petition to try to persuade the supermarkets to ditch throw away plastic packaging altogether. You can sign it here. You can also find some of my ideas for ways to ditch plastic here.

What do you think about our current levels of plastic waste? What can we do to reduce it in our lives?

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Ten easy ways to reduce plastic waste and save money

reduce plastic wasteI have been attempting for some time to reduce plastic waste at Shoestring Cottage. It sometimes seems an uphill struggle! However, there are simple steps we can all take to reduce plastic waste in our day to day lives. Here are my ideas.

Cut the hand wash

Until about 20 years ago, I swear we all washed our hands with bars of soap. Now you have to have hand wash. Instead of arriving wrapped in a small amount of plastic or paper, it comes in a plastic bottle with a dispenser and promises to kill 99% of all germs.

I am pretty sure that the caustic soda that is the key ingredient of solid soap also does this. So I am giving up the hand wash to reduce plastic waste. Soap is also cheaper, even the posh stuff.

Dump the shower gel

The arguments for not using shower gel are the same as for cutting out hand wash. We used to use solid soap and it worked absolutely fine. I have always preferred soap. It is easier to deal with when you are in the shower. No fiddling around trying to open a bottle for a start.

Unfortunately I cannot persuade Mr S to make the switch, so it seems we will continue to have some shower gel. I don’t use it at all.

Try a shampoo bar

I have had a few solid shampoo bars from Lush and they last absolutely ages. They are very good value and work just as well. The ones sold by Lush smell divine as well. Lush claim that each bar gives you 80-100 washes, which is economical by anyone’s standards.

There are a range of solid shampoo bars on Amazon, such as this Oatmilk and Argan Oil Shampoo one. These are cheaper than the Lush ones so may be worth a try.

Lush also sell solid conditioner bars. I didn’t enjoy the one I tried as much. It didn’t seem to coat my hair.

Choose glass

reduce plastic wasteIt can be quite hard to find your favourite products in glass bottles and jars rather than plastic. However, it’s not impossible. Even the discount supermarkets offer some of my regular purchases in glass containers now. I am not saying they are cheaper, but they are generally not hugely more expensive.

reduce plastic wasteAldi sell the most delicious farmhouse yogurt in a glass pot. At 69p a pot I would say it is a premium product but so worth the money. The pot comes with a reusable lid so you could keep your buttons or paperclips in it afterwards.

I also buy their glass bottled olive oil. It is very nice quality.

Cut the cleanser

reduce plastic wasteI bought myself and my daughters these Makeup Removing Cloths for Christmas. I wasn’t sure how they could possibly work, but they do! Just soak them in warm water and wipe off your cosmetics. I tested my skin by cleaning it again with my usual cleanser and there wasn’t a trace of dirt or make up left.

I have pretty much stopped using cleanser – mine comes in a plastic container – and now just use a face cloth. This will save me money too.

Reduce your cleaning products

I have blogged before about using bicarbonate of soda to do some of your cleaning. You can also make your own cleaning spray. I buy white vinegar in glass bottles from the supermarket and large bags of bicarbonate of soda online.

I occasionally do buy slightly stronger cleaners but not as often as I have in the past. This is reducing my plastic waste and saving the pennies.

Carry a fold up bag

I have carried a reusable bag or two in my handbag for years and years. Now that there is a 5p levy on carrier bags, it seems the rest of the country is finally catching up.

The downside is that we can rarely find a plastic bag in the house if we need one! I can live with that.

Invest in a reusable water bottle

This is so obvious it is barely worth a mention. And yet it is, as the waste caused by plastic bottles is a major problem.

It’s not just water, of course, but cola and juices that are sold in plastic bottles. I would love to go back to a time when returnable glass bottles were the norm. However, they are heavy and there are consequent transport costs. It is unlikely to happen. So I carry my reusable bottle with me and I don’t buy other drinks when I am out.

If you are tempted, then buy drinks in aluminium cans or glass bottles, then take them home and put them in the recycling.

Buy a bamboo cup

My daughter bought me this bamboo cup for Christmas. I am impressed with how long it keeps drinks hot for. I intend to stick it in my bag for when I go to town. If I splash out on a coffee I shall ask them to serve it in this.

It takes some forward planning, but if you are someone who buys a lot of coffee out it is worth getting organised. I can’t say this will save you any money but it will reduce your use of plastic lined coffee cups.

The last straw to reduce plastic waste

Another Christmas present for my daughters was a set of stainless steel straws each. Plastic straws are terrible, and end up in our oceans and water systems.

They loved their steel straws and are using them almost daily. They come with a little cleaning brush too.

I was encouraged today to read this story about how Iceland Stores are reducing their plastic waste. If others follow suit this will make it much easier for us all. Good move!

In the meantime there are many small behavioural changes you can make to reduce plastic waste. What others can you suggest?

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Eco friendly Christmas gifts

Don’t shout at me for mentioning the festive season in October – it soon creeps up! I have already started buying and have been looking at some eco friendly Christmas gifts.

Christmas has felt like a bad consumer melt down for me in the past. Too many people buying too much stuff and spending way too much money. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. I enjoy all of the opportunities it offers for people to get together, the giving and receiving,  the cooking and eating  of delicious food.

However, I dislike the general excess. People spending money they can’t afford, buying mounds of food that won’t get eaten, trashy, over the top decorations and the pressure folk feel to produce the perfect experience. I am already hearing parents stressing because they cannot get this year’s most popular toy and fighting for them when they arrive in the shops. Most of all, I hate spending money on trashy presents that won’t be appreciated.

Because of this, I try to make sure the recipients of any gifts I buy really want them. If that means taking away the surprise, then so be it. I also try to buy some items that are eco friendly. Usually small things for my daughters that will replace something that causes a lot of waste. With this in mind, here are my suggestions for inexpensive eco friendly Christmas gifts. I am dreaming of a green Christmas!

I am going for a frugal Christmas, so none of the suggestions below will break the bank.

Eco friendly Christmas gifts

For their stocking fillers, I have bought my daughters some stainless steel reusable straws. Plastic straws are thrown away after one use which is incredibly wasteful. I have ordered them from Lakeland, at £5.99 for 8 straws with a cleaning brush.

I hope they don’t read this, as I have also bought them some reusable Magic Makeup Removing Cloths from Amazon. You can remove all makeup with just water. The reviews suggest they really work, so I am excited about these. I have ordered myself some too.

If you have a nature loving friend or family member, Friends of the Earth have a cute bird feeder in their shop. You can stick it to your kitchen window and watch the birds feeding as you do the washing up! Love this! At £13.99 it won’t break the bank.

I know this isn’t a glamorous gift, but I would be happy to receive these Ecoegg Re-Usable Bamboo Towels. You can wash and reuse rather than buying kitchen towels.

I have never tried these, but my lodger has one – how about a Bamboo Toothbrush? She is very happy with hers. It remains to be seen how long it will last, but you are supposed to change them every three months so it should do that.

I have various plastic lunchboxes that I take to work, but maybe a stainless steel one would be a better option. Ideally, it should be air tight so that you don’t have to use plastic wrap as well. There are lots of different options online, but some of them are horrendously expensive. One was over £80!! Not on my budget…. Many were under £10 but looked cheap with poor reviews. This one seems a decent mid priced one and has excellent reviews.

For the kids, how about some recycled colouring pencils made from rolled up newspapers? I found these on eBay. Pencils and recycled paper crafts make great eco friendly Christmas gifts.

When I was at the SHOMO Awards recently, I met Zoe from Eco Thrify Living. She had bought her own reusable coffee cup with her, which I thought was such a sensible idea. I have found a similar one from Evolution Organics that I will be putting on my Christmas wish list. I have several china ones but they aren’t really practical for carrying around with you.

Buy an experience

Regular readers will know we had a lot of experiences given to Mr Shoestring for his 50th. My favourites were the afternoon teas. Who wouldn’t enjoy a big plate of cake? Of course, there are all types of experiences you can purchase and you can find some of them at buyagift.co.uk. I think these are a good idea for people who already have too much stuff.

Buying books

I also like buying books as these will tend to be read and passed on – not just binned. Coffee table type books are pretty but I avoid them as they tend to be leafed through and forgotten. I only buy books for people I know well or where someone has requested a book they really like. If you are considering books as presents, check out the Book People first. They have collections that are so cheap and fantastic for presents. When my children were smaller, I would buy the collections of kids books and separate them up to give in a party bag rather than loads of plastic rubbish. I also buy second hand books for stocking fillers.

Gift vouchers

If you don’t know what to buy, don’t buy anything. Rather than spend on something that might not be appreciated, choose a gift voucher instead. The other advantage of gift cards is that they don’t involved loads of packaging and gift wrapping. You can buy discounted cards from Zeek, so you can save money too. If you use my promo code you will get £3 for free. I generally use my gift cards, but if you have some you know you won’t get around to spending, you can sell on Zeek too. It’s a genius idea.

Does the waste and excess at Christmas leave you cold too? Will you be exploring some eco friendly Christmas gifts instead this year?

 

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Home made eco friendly cleaning spray

I dumped the Mr Sheen years ago and I have been using a mixture of vinegar and water to clean surfaces and furniture. It is very cheap and effective. I  have also on occasion used bicarbonate of soda to scrub the bathroom. However, until now I haven’t really explored any recipes for  a home made eco friendly cleaner such as this one.

home made eco friendly cleaning spray

Home made eco friendly cleaning spray

A home made eco friendly cleaning spray

I hate the idea of living in a house filled with chemicals and the damage that they do to the environment, but I can’t afford the expensive eco-friendly cleaning products you find in the supermarket or health food shop.

Over the years a mixture of being very busy and laziness has meant that my cleaning cupboard has started to fill up with standard cleaners. I have bathroom cleaners, bleach, window cleaners, carpet cleaners, oven cleaners….what happened to my green credentials?! My cupboard is full of chemical cocktails in a sea of plastic bottles. Enough is enough!

As I run out of each cleaner I am going to experiment with a cheaper, greener home made alternative. The first has been a general purpose spray cleaner that I have so far used successfully in the kitchen and bathroom as well as the kitchen work surfaces.

This is extremely cheap and easy to make. I put it in an old spray bottle so less plastic waste too! I reckon it cost about 60p for a litre and I have loads of borax substitute left that should last ages.

Orange general household cleaner

An old spray bottle, washed out
2 heaped tsp borax substitute
4 or 5 drops of orange essential oil
100ml white vinegar
warm water

Use a large jug as this fizzes when you add the vinegar to the borax substitute. Start by mixing them together as much as you can. Add your orange oil and top up to the litre mark with warm water. Keep stirring until the borax substitute is dissolved, pour into your spray bottle and get cleaning!

I got my white vinegar from Asda for about 39p and the oil and borax substitute came from Summer Naturals.

Does anyone have some tried and tested eco friendly cleaning spray recipes they would like to share?

The amazing power of bicarbonate of soda

Yesterday it was a warm and muggy day. As I walked into the house after work I was hit with a most unpleasant pong. The bins! Both the main kitchen bin and the food waste container seemed to be fermenting in the heat. Yeeeuch!

Magic white powder

I immediately reached for the bicarbonate of soda (baking soda). If I had remembered to sprinkle some of this magical powder into the bins before I put in new liners, they wouldn’t have been so smelly. I have done that now!

We always keep a big of tub of bicarbonate of soda handy as it has so many uses as a cleaner and deodoriser, as well as for making the odd muffin, of course! it is incredibly cheap for something that is so versatile.

I use wood pellets in the cat litter tray as it is better at absorbing smells, but I also sprinkle baking soda  in the bottom of the tray. It makes a huge difference.

It is good for getting rid of nasty odours in the fridge too; just leave a small bowlful at the bottom and it will help neutralise the smell.

Use bicarbonate of soda for personal care

Because of its deodorising properties, bicarbonate of soda can be used under your arms. I sometimes buy a solid deodorant from Lush that is mostly made of bicarb – and it really works! You can dab it straight onto your skin with a flannel.

It is also great for smelly feet when used in this way. Alternatively, a couple of teaspoons left overnight in stinky shoes or trainers will neutralise those nasty niffs!

I’m not a fan of this, but you can also use bicarbonate of soda to clean your teeth. Just dip your toothbrush in and brush! There are recipes online to make a more palatable minty toothpaste with it.  It can also freshen your breath if you mix a teaspoonful in a small glass of water and gargle.

Half a cup of soda in your bath will clean and soften your skin. Add a few drops of essential oil and you can abandon the bubble bath.

Gentle and effective cleaning

Bicarbonate of soda is well known as an effective and gentle household cleaner.

Use it as a scouring powder on dirt and stains pretty much anywhere in the house. Sprinkle it on a damp sponge and give surfaces a good scrub – it isn’t harsh so won’t scratch them. Tip it down the plug hole with half a cup of white vinegar to alleviate smelly drains then use it to scrub the sink!

Soak dishes with dried on food in a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda before hand washing or placing in your dishwasher. This also works on tea stained mugs.

Sprinkle baking soda onto smelly sofas, rugs or carpets, leave for half an hour or so then vacuum. It is especially good at getting rid of pet smells.

If you have heavily soiled laundry, try add half a cup of soda alongside your washing powder or liquid. It will also brighten light coloured items.

I love bicarbonate of soda because I don’t like a houseful of chemicals. It keeps things simple. I also try to avoid a lot of unnecessary products and packaging.  But mostly, I love bicarbonate of soda because it is cheap!

I have just ordered a 1kg bag from Amazon for £4.74 including delivery. It works out even cheaper if you purchase a 5kg tub. Please note that if you click through via either of the images above and purchase something I will earn a small commission.