More often than not, our grandparents were forced, out of necessity, to be creative and use what was on hand. Without access to modern-day bells-and-whistles, solutions for keeping homes clean and gardens in order were found from natural products and things that were close at hand. Nowadays, we are just bombarded with “stuff” that we “cannot possibly do without.” Many of us want to get back to basics and live a simpler life, without the toxic chemicals and harsh pollutants that surround us daily.
Bringing simplicity and natural products into your everyday life is much easier than you’d imagine, and the joy of concocting various recipes can make a dull task seem a little cheerier. Here are a few recipes and projects from my book FORGOTTEN WAY FOR MODERN DAYS you can try:
HOUSEHOLD STAIN POWDER
Make up a batch of this simple two-ingredient powder to have on hand to pre-treat stains of all kinds before the item goes through the wash. No toxic chemicals, just simple kitchen-cupboard ingredients will help you rid fabrics of most stains. Store it in powdered form, then make it into a paste to use on stains and to brighten grubby grouting. Alternatively, mix it with vinegar or lemon juice to clean limescale deposits from taps, remove stubborn marks from saucepans, and anything else that has developed an unsightly tinge.
- 1 cup cooking salt
- 1 cup baking soda
Place both the ingredients in a jar, put on the lid, and give it a good shake to combine the salt and baking soda. As long as this is made in a 1:1 ratio, the size doesn’t matter, so make as little or as much as you need.
USING THIS PRODUCT
To use on clothing stains, make a small amount into a paste with some warm water, cover the stain with this paste, and leave it on overnight. Then wash the garment as usual. Remember – for precious clothing, try a small test patch somewhere out of sight, just to be on the safe side. For household jobs, mix the powder with either water or a mixture of vinegar and lemon juice.
ALL-PURPOSE ORANGE CLEANER
Our grannies didn’t have the vast array of cleaners for every eventuality to choose from when they did their weekly grocery shopping. They often made their own cleaning solutions from ingredients they already had in the home. With just a few items from your pantry, it is easy to make yourself an entire arsenal of cleaning products without any harsh or horrid-smelling chemicals.
- Orange peel, enough to fill a jar
- Bottle of white vinegar, to cover the orange peel
- Fill a large glass jar with orange peel and cover with white vinegar. Put the lid on and place the jar in a pan of water and heat until the water reaches 150°F. Maintain at this temperature for 20 minutes, then take the jar out of the hot water and set aside to cool.
- Allow the jar to sit for a few days, then strain the vinegar into a bottle.
CLEANING WITHOUT CHEMICALS
Once you are smitten with your all-purpose orange cleaner, why not add to your arsenal of homemade cleaning products by trying out a few of the easy recipes below. No fancy ingredients are needed, just a few straightforward items from the cupboard to make your home clean.
TOILET BOWL CLEANER
- ½ cup baking soda
- 1 cup white vinegar
Add the baking soda to the toilet bowl and leave for at least an hour or overnight, if possible. Pour in the vinegar and wait for the fizzing to stop, then flush. Any tough stains may need a quick scrub with a toilet brush before you flush.
KITCHEN APPLIANCE CLEANER
- ¾ cup white vinegar
- ¾ cup warm water
- ¼ cup dish soap
- 1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch
Mix the vinegar, water, and dish soap together and then use a little of this liquid to mix a paste with the cornstarch. Stir until smooth and then slowly add the rest of the liquid to the paste. Pour into a spray bottle and shake before each use. Spray onto your white goods and wipe clean with a damp cloth. Discard any unused cleaner after a month.
CANDLE IN A JAR
Scented candles bring back a sense of well-being and comfort to your home, especially on those dark, cold winter evenings when a gentle scent and a pleasant glow flickering in the corner of the room can lift the spirits to no end. Making your own endless is really quite gratifying. Although it may seem an unnecessary task given the huge array of candles on the market, try it once and you will be hooked.
- Soy Wax (enough for 2 jarfuls of wax)
- Glass jar with a lid
- Candle wick that is slightly longer than the height of your jar
- 30-40 drops essential oil
- 2 straws
- 2 elastic bands
- Measure out 2 jarfuls of wax into a heatproof container.
- Pour boiling water into your glass jar and place to one side. The water will warm the glass and help your candle set evenly. Once the jar is warm, pour out the water and dry the jar carefully. Attach your wick to the bottom center of the jar. A small glue dot or piece of double-sided tape will help keep it in place.
- Melt the wax, either in a double boiler or in the microwave. If using the latter, keep a careful eye on the wax and don’t allow it to overheat.
- Remove the wax from the heat and stir in the essential oil, then carefully pour it into your glass jar. Use the two straws secured together with elastic bands, clamped around the wick. This will help to keep it in place while the candle sets. Place the candle somewhere warm to set. Don’t let impatience tempt you to pop it in the fridge, because it needs to harden slowly to set evenly. If, once hardened, the top of the candle looks a little uneven or has sunk slightly, warm it with a hairdryer. This should even it out nicely.
- When the candle is completely set, trim the wick and place the jar lid on to store it, or light it. On the candle’s first burn, make sure it is alight for long enough to allow the entire top of the candle to melt. This will ensure the candle burns evenly on subsequent burning.
Recipes excerpted from FORGOTTEN WAYS FOR MODERN DAYS: Kitchen Cures and Household Lore for a Natural Home and Garden by Rachelle Blondel, with a foreword by Dottie Angel, to be published by Tarcher Perigee, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2016 by Rachelle Blondel.