I am now a complete fan of buying a few products that last a long time, that can be used for many different things and that, ultimately, save me lots of money and faff. Over this year I have discovered quite a few but these five are definitely the ones I reach for the most for all my DIYs in cleaning and self-care.
1. Coconut Oil
I have used coconut oil for soooo many things EXCEPT cooking. I really should try it for things like homemade curries because we have a lot of those, but for self-care it’s my top ingredient. It is my body moisturiser after a shower, it’s the binder in our homemade toothpaste, and it’s the only thing I will ever use if Rawrie has the occasional nappy rash. My favourite use for it has been to use in a homemade body and facial scrub. Without any real recipe, I mixed coconut oil with granulated sugar and some lemongrass oil and it is the most sublime-smelling thing in our flat. Alex and I use it in the shower to treat ourselves after a long day. And if it accidentally gets in your mouth, it doesn’t matter. It’s edible!
I am aware that coconut oil is a bit like marmite with people, and there are definitely a few mythical claims about its properties which need to be busted or taken with a pinch of salt. It also did not work for me at all as a hair conditioner or a facial oil. I have very oily hair so that and coconut oil doesn’t really go together, and I now know that coconut oil isn’t the recommended oil for your face in terms of clogging pores. However, for me personally I’ve been able to benefit hugely from its antifungal and antibacterial qualities. I love its smell and like that I can get a large jar for £12.50 which lasts at least five months.
2. Bicarbonate of Soda
The first of the iconic duo of natural, zero-waste cleaning. Bicarbonate of Soda has three main weapons for natural cleaning. Firstly, it is great as a deodoriser. I use it to clean our bins and fridge and it genuinely gets rid of bad smells. Secondly, it’s a natural abrasive and so I’ve been able to use it with lemon juice and white vinegar to clean the scum build-up on our shower glass. Thirdly, it is strong enough to break down grease, so it works so well cleaning the oven and hob.
I have been able to clean furniture and rugs with it – once you add vinegar the chemical reaction breaks down spills on fabric. However, I do know people who have tried this and it hasn’t worked on their furniture, and I would recommend you use this natural alternative immediately after a spill! I am able to get my bicarb in bulk from Pedrick’s and have a huge supply in my cleaning cupboard.
3. Distilled White Vinegar
The second of the duo. You don’t need much more than nos. 2 and 3 for cleaning, ummm, anything. The best use for vinegar is replacing the supermarket’s multipurpose spray. You just need to fill a spray bottle with half vinegar and half water, that’s it! No extra chemicals or perfumes. I am so happy using it clean everything from our surfaces, sinks, and everything that Rawrie touches because it’s non-toxic.
I am a vinegar-loving gal so the smell is beautiful to me, but I know there are those who do not love a vinegar smell. If you are one of those people, infusion is for you. Add some sprigs of rosemary or slices of lemon to the spray bottle and it smells and looks soooo pretty. Or add your favourite essential oils, although Tea Tree, Lemon and Lavender are the bookie’s favourite for their cleaning properties. Again, I get my vinegar from Pedrick’s and store it in my old vinegar bottle.
4. Essential Oil Set
Sooooo many amazing smells I have discovered by getting a pack of essential oils. Admittedly, I got mine off Amazon but the set I got is still going after a year of use, and writing this now I’m not entirely sure I’ve used all of them! Different oils can serve different purposes. Lavender and Tea Tree oil are the best choices for dropping into your baby’s bath, so you don’t have to invest in the supermarket baby bath products. Lemon oil is the best for putting in a laundry load to remove stains (Bergamot and Lemongrass are also candidates for this). Peppermint, of course, we use in our homemade toothpaste for the traditional minty flavour.
Moving on from cleaning, I keep reading over each essential oil and their benefits for the immune system, your mood and your general health, and the list. is. ENDLESS. My go-to website for all things essential oil is now Laura’s Our Oily House (I discovered her through her sister Lisa from Farmhouse on Boone!). At a basic level, I love using my little diffuser I got from Wilko with different oils to change things up. The whiff of Frankincense or Rosemary in the evening really helps us wind down, before the night shifts.
5. Argan Oil
Apart from bicarb (odourless), all my multitaskers have amazing smells, and argan is just something else.
Argan oil is considered one of the best choices as a facial oil. It’s main component is Vitamin E, which is loved by our faces as an antioxidant that helps repair skin. It has also been the product that has really worked on my thick, curly hair. After I have blow-dryed a little I work just 3-4 drops into my damp hair, and it feels so soft and strong… when I remember to use it! I got a pack of six bottles of cold-pressed argan oil from The Ordinary for an absolute bargain. I haven’t yet finished my first bottle and it’s been active for at least a month. The great thing is, 3-4 drops go such a long way.
Anyone got any more multitaskers? Please share below if so! I might mention some more in the future, I definitely went crazy last year and now have buckets of bentonite clay and shea butter hanging around in our bathroom cupboard and making our limited storage work hard rather than smart! Buuuut our kitchen cupboard is definitely more clutter-free thanks to our minimal cleaning supplies. I’ll also mention these guys again soon in a more in-depth blog post on our simple cleaning routine around the flat.