Clean and deodorise with bicarbonate of soda

Bicarb is a wonderful, inexpensive, multifunctional product. It can be used for scrubbing toilets, baths and sinks.To absorb bad odours, leave an open container of bicarb in the fridge, or sprinkle onto a carpet and leave for ten minutes, then vacuum. Bicarb can also be used to clean cast iron cookware, remove scratches from counter tops, carpet deodorizer, buff out furniture stains, remove crayon marks from walls, unclog a drain, use as a laundry fabric softener, and general soft scrub cleaner.

Clean and disinfect with white vinegar

White vinegar is antibacterial and can be added to water to make effective mould-killing spray. Use a water and vinegar solution (half and half), to wash your windows, clean chrome and stainless steel surfaces, shine silver, give new life to old rugs, remove carpet stains, remove water rings on furniture, disinfect kitchen cutting boards, clean glass and mirrors. For a particularly stinky load of washing (especially cloth nappies) pour half a cup of white vinegar in with your wash to deodorize and disinfect.

Stock up on salt

Salt is an inexpensive and non-toxic cleaner and disinfectant. Sprinkle salt on wine or grease stains on carpets or fabric. Disinfect kitchen and bathroom sponges by soaking them in a salt solution. Salt can be dissolved in water and used to clean residue from glass, disinfect and clean cutting boards and remove stains from enamel pans. And if you have a sore throat or bad breath, gargling with a warm salt water solution can really help to clear up the problem.

Grow your own food

Getting your fingers into the soil to grow your own food can be a very enjoyable and therapeutic hobby. In addition, by growing your own organically produced food, you know that you are eating the freshest and healthiest fruit and veggies available! If you grow more than you can eat, you can be quite sure that friends, family and neighbours will always be more than willing to share your extra veggies and fruit. Contact organisations such as Soil for Life, for more information and courses on growing your own food.

Read the labels on your cleaning products

Many of today’s cleaning products contain substances that are harmful to you and the environment. By reading the labels, you can learn to avoid these substances. In particular, look for cleaning products with eco-friendly characteristics, such as:

  • Recyclable or re-usable packaging
  • Locally produced
  • Biodegradable
  • Products not tested on animals, and not containing animal ingredients
  • Products that do not contain petrochemicals
  • Products that do not contain phosphates or nitrates
  • Products that do not contain bleach or ammonia If the product is not clearly labelled, give their consumer hotline a call and ask questions.

Stock up on olive oil

Olive oil is a versatile and health-giving product that has been used for centuries in cooking, body and home care. Mix olive oil with coarse salt or sugar and a few drops of peppermint oil to create foot, hand and body scrub that leaves skin soft and nourished. For dry hair, warm some olive oil and add a teaspoon of honey to create a nourishing hair mask. If you learn to enjoy the aroma of olive oil, you can use it as massage oil and skin moisturizer.

Olive oil can also be used to nourish and polish wooden furniture, leather shoes and eliminate door squeaks.

Cook and clean with lemon juice

Lemon juice makes a useful household stain remover, disinfectant and deodoriser.You can clean glass shower doors by applying lemon juice with a sponge, and then shine dry with crumpled newspaper.You can remove ink from clothing by applying lemon juice on the ink stain, and then washing as usual. To remove fruit and berry stains, as well as the smell of garlic and onion, rinse your hands with lemon juice. To remove tarnish from copper or brass, rub a cut lemon with salt and use as a scrub. Finally, lemon juice can be used to enhance the favour of foods – allowing you to use less salt in your cooking, and to ditch any artifcial favourings.

Use Organic Body Products

The average person has almost 3 kilograms of skin covering their body. This is a huge porous membrane that absorbs dirt, pollutants and toxins. The human body absorbs about 60% of whatever formulations they put on their skin. The good news is that an extensive range of certified organic skin products are available online ( for example) and in retail outlets around South Africa. They range in price to cater for different budgets, so don’t automatically assume that organic is too expensive.

De-stress in nature

Reconnecting with the natural environment is a highly effective way to soothe a tired body and mind, and often provides the space needed to regain a more balanced perspective in our busy lives. Luckily, as South African’s, we don’t need to travel far to find beautiful natural spaces in which we can relax and de-stress. Take a walk on the beach, a mountain or woodland hike or a cycle-ride with friends. Even half an hour planting flowers, veggies or pulling up weeds in your garden after work can be a highly satisfying way to de-stress – usually much more so than alcohol or TV.

Re-order your priorities

Part of the stress of modern living is that we are constantly pulled between many priorities including: family, career, travel, money, ethics and values, possessions, health, social life, art, the list goes on. One way to clear your head, and create more time for the really important things in life, is to draw up a series of circles, with you in the centre. Put the people, values and activities most important to you in the circle closest to centre, and then categorize outwards in order of priority.You may be surprised to find that many of the tasks or relationships that you have been pouring effort into have been placed in the ‘outer circle’. By getting your priorities in order, you can begin to create a healthier, more balanced life for yourself and your family.


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