January 02, 2012

Recipes for Green Cleaning and Grooming

I realise that for most people choosing their everyday grooming and cleaning products is a question of convenience and habit – we have used the same product for so long that we don’t even think about changing it to something else. Just take a look at the shampoo and the soap you use, and the bathroom cleaning products, and your deodorant and make-up. These are the products we are so used to using every day, yet we hardly know what it is that they actually contain and even worse, what they might be doing to our bodies and our environment.

What is probably turning you off from making the change to greener grooming and cleaning is that you don’t really know what alternatives are out there. We are being bombarded with advertising by the big cosmetic companies, which makes it “easier” for us to you to choose their products than look for alternatives.

My way of thinking about this issue is pretty simple: Just go back to basics. If the list of ingredients on the product is longer than your arm and you don’t even know what the ingredients are, then don’t buy it. It is simple as that. You don’t have to be a scientist to mix up some home-made, yet equally effective cleaning and beauty products, and you probably have most of the ingredients already in your pantry.

Some basic ingredients to start cleaning green include:

Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) – all-purpose cleaner that deodorises and removes stains. Together with vinegar and hot water, it is also great for unblocking drains. Scrub your bath tub and sink with a mixture of bicarbonate of soda and vinegar to remove any soap scum.

White vinegar – cuts through grease, disinfects and removes stains. Mix half water-half vinegar to make an all-purpose spray.

Lemon juice – cuts through grease and also acts as mild bleach. Scrub your chopping boards with half a lemon to get rid of odours.

Essential oils, like tea tree, pine and eucalyptus – they are anti-bacterial and add natural fragrance to your home-made cleaning products. Mix eucalyptus oil with water for a disinfectant, all-purpose spray.

My grooming routines are pretty simple. I like making my own face/body scrub with some honey and raw sugar. Bicarbonate of soda is also a great exfoliator and it’s antiseptic. I use coconut oil or almond oil for both cleansing and moisturising my skin. Good old home-made remedies, like oats or avocado face masks can feel much more luxurious those with added synthetic ingredients.

Castile soap is a great natural alternative to conventional shampoos and soaps. Rock crystal deodorants made from mineral salts are a safer alternative to conventional deodorants. Here's a recipe for my favourite home-made deodorant. In anything, just look for plant-based ingredients, and avoid those with a long list of synthetic chemical ingredients.

If you do decide to make the switch to natural and organic products, be aware that not everything that says “natural” is in fact chemical-free. Labelling can be confusing, so do your research before you buy.

Please help yourself with some useful links below. I would also love to hear your best tips and recipes for green cleaning and green beauty!


Tanya Ha’s book Greeniology is a great green living guide that covers all areas of life. http://www.tanyaha.com

David Suzuki’s list ‘Dirty Dozen Cosmetic Chemicals’

Skin Deep – Cosmetics Database www.cosmeticsdatabase.com

WellBeing Magazine’s article on DIY Chemical-free cleaning with recipes

‘How to Green Your Cleaning’

This post was first published on Foodie.fm