I have been thinking about old fashioned cleaning methods lately as a result of the current Coronavirus crisis. It is obviously very important to wash your hands at the moment to help prevent the spread of the virus, and as supplies of hand sanitiser and anti bacterial products sell out across the UK, I wanted to revisit some tried and tested alternatives, especially for things that could clean my home.
However please note that there is no scientific evidence that anything in this article is effective against COVID-19. To be entirely safe, use the recommended off the shelf chemical products. This article is therefore purely for nostalgia / historical interest purposes only.
Our ancestors wouldn’t have had the same range of chemical cleaning products we are used to today, instead using ingredients they already had in the cupboards at home. These were much more environmentally friendly and of course came without the pungent chemical aromas!
The main ingredients that come up time and time again are vinegar, lemon (or other citrus acids) and bicarbonate of soda. Vinegar and lemon are acids with some disinfecting properties, that will cut through most dirty deposits on surfaces. It is usually recommended to mix with water so as not to cause damaged to said surfaces. Bicarbonate of soda acts as a scouring agent for tougher stains and is also a mild deodorant. If mixed with vinegar it creates an effervescent reaction that accelerates the dirt expelling actions!
So, in mind of all these old fashioned remedies, I finally found a recipe for a an all purpose orange cleaner from a book called ‘Forgotten Ways for Modern Days‘ by Rachelle Blondel (external link), which can be mixed with other items too to increase its effects.
Natural Orange Cleaner
Orange peel, enough to fill a medium sized kilner jar or similar
Distilled White Vinegar 1/2 litre bottle
1. Place the orange peel in the kilner jar and cover with the bottle of vinegar
2. Make sure the lid is closed and put the jar in a pan of water.
3. Bring the water temperature up to 65 degrees centigrade and keep to this temperature for 20 mins.
4. Take out of the water and leave to cool, then let it sit for a few days.
5. Afterwards, strain the vinegar into a glass bottle and keep to use diluted in other natural cleaning recipes, for example the antibacterial spray below.
Mix 40 ml of the orange vinegar you made above with 200 ml water and 40 or so drops of essential oil (I used rosemary and lavender). Put in a glass spray bottle and use when needed to disinfect surfaces.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe for this fab smelling environmentally friendly household cleaner. Do let me know how you get on in the comments below!
This post is written by Rachel Toy, owner of Rachel’s Vintage & Retro. I am a vintage enthusiast writing about a Vintage Lifestyle, focusing on the Vintage Home. I also sell a wide variety of vintage household items from kitchenalia, to homewares such as linens, mid century glass, brewerania, furniture and collectable toys on my Etsy Shop.