Natural Living Family

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Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Voluntary Frugality – Green Cleaning

by Annie Austin

Recently I was asked what we do to save money. In this day and age where it is pretty much expected that both parents go out and work, it is really difficult to make ends meet when one parents wants to be at home with the kids.

I have put together a few tips of what we have done to help make ends meet. I do still work from home, but it is difficult to earn anywhere near as much as I would if I was ‘out there’, but watching my kids grow and being there for them makes any sacrifices well worth it.

We grow our own veggies - a must here where we live since there is very little available. It does save quite a bit of money. I freeze a lot of the excess and have on occasion sold some. If you are doing this organically you need very little apart from some good compost. If you have the space you can make your own by recycling household waste – watch out for future article on compost making.

I have a menu I put together for the month, this way everyone knows what to expect and there is less waste from stuff going off in the fridge. I try to minimise the shopping trips and when we do go only buy what is on the list, makes a big difference to the monthly budget. We stick to budget foods during the week and have a treat on Sundays. Meat is something we have cut back on drastically, not only is it full of chemicals and I feel just awful for the way the animals are treated, but with the cost nowdays it is beyond most peoples means. We eat a lot of lentils, rice, beans and potatoes. Eggs are a staple, we did have our own chickens and had more than enough eggs. We only have a few chickens now and I want to build this up again. Chickens can eat a lot of kitchen scraps and weeds so are not too expensive to maintain if you have the space. The kids just love feeding the chickens and geese.


  • I try to keep this as non toxic as possible and have managed to save a lot of money by simply not using all those commercial cleaning products.
  • I use vinegar for most things from cleaning floors to bathrooms to kitchen counters and windows. Dilute one tablespoon of vinegar and one teaspoon salt to about 4L hot water, this is great for cleaning most things. I buy a 5L container of vinegar, it is cheap and best of all non toxic.
  • For windows put some undiluted vinegar in a spray blottle instead on ‘windowlene’.
  • If you need a scourer use bicarbonate of soda.
  • Vinegar and borax make a great mildew remover – but be careful borax is poisonous if ingested, keep away from little ones and pets.

  • I use really hot water for most and only use dish liquid for the really greasy stuff.
  • Lemon and bicarbonate of soda work pretty well too as a grease cutter and are brilliant for burnt on pots (something I have often) just sprinkle some bicarbonate add a teaspoon of lemon and cover with 5mm water. Soak over night.
  • Salt is anti bacterial as is tea tree oil, either added to hot water will kill any bacteria – specially useful if you have been preparing meat.

  • Bicarbonate of soda sprinkled on and sprayed with vinegar, leave for 20 minutes and wipe off. Any stubborn patches can be scrubbed with extra bicarbonate.

  • Use half a cup of vinegar instead of fabric softener.
  • I find that the Enchantrix laundry gel when bought in 5L containers actually works out cheaper than the commercial stuff.

    Air Freshners
  • Spin-Fresh Bathroom Deodorizer - Add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil to the inside of the cardboard toilet tissue roll. With each turn, fragrance is released into the room.
  • Make a Lemon and baking soda spray - Dissolve baking soda in 2 cups hot water, add lemon juice, pour into spray bottle, spray into air as air freshener.
  • Bicarbonate of soda placed into an open container will freshen any area, works great in the fridge.
  • If you carpets are smelly, bicarbonate sprinkled over and left for 20 minutes before vacuuming is fantastic.

    Drain Cleaner ~ For slow drains, use this drain cleaner once a week to keep drains fresh and clog-free.
    1/2 to 1 cup baking soda
    1 cup white vinegar
    3 liters boiling water
    Pour baking soda down drain, followed by vinegar. Allow the mixture to foam for several minutes before flushing the drain with boiling water.

Most of these are fairly simple tips that can make some difference to the montly budget, but also a huge difference to the environment. We have also started putting together a monthly budget and deciding before hand how much we can afford to spend on various things so that we know where we stand at any given point.