Retro Cleaning – Some Useful Tips

These days, more and more products are available to apparently make our lives easier, do laundry quicker, faster and better. The problem is, convenience is great but the chemicals we use are not good for the environment.

Our previous generations used only a handful of products to do all the jobs we do today, but there’s value in looking back at what used to be done, and learning from the past. In tougher times of old, people sought out products that were cheap, effective and harmless.

So, here are a few green tips taken from my grandmother’s handbook on cheap, world-friendly ways to get things done…

Washing dishes

Instead of using washing-up liquid, why not try using a tablespoon of Borax in a sinkful of water– for very greasy dishes; maybe add a little washing-up liquid as well. Use a tablespoon of Borax in the rinsing water for glassware to prevent water streaks.

Borax was discovered over 4000 years ago, and is usually found deep within the ground, although it has been mined near the surface in Death Valley, California since the 1800s. Although it has numerous industrial uses, in the home borax is used as a natural laundry booster, multipurpose cleaner, fungicide, preservative, insecticide, herbicide, disinfectant and dessicant.

One of the beauties of Borax is that it can happily mix in with other household cleaning agents, and is really effective.

Cleaning pans

A strong solution of soda crystals is very effective for removing burnt-on grease and food from pans, dishes and grill pans. Soak stubborn debris overnight. Soda crystals are not suitable for aluminum pans, so it’s best to revert back to Borax for tough stains on this kind of metal. Sprinkle Borax on pots and pans and rub with a damp dishcloth – and don’t worry about scratching because Borax is not abrasive. Rinse items thoroughly.

Automatic dishwashing

Make your own automatic dishwasher powder by mixing a tablespoon each of Borax and bicarbonate of soda. Some people suggest it’s a good idea to use white vinegar in place of rinse aid, although this should only be done now and again. To clean the dishwasher, remove the filter and clean with liquid soda crystals, then clean the machine inside with white vinegar.

Cookers and worktops

Grease and burnt on food are easily ‘dissolved’ by liquid soda crystals – leave to soak for a few minutes on stubborn marks and dirt.

Cups and teapots

Tannin stains can be easily removed by leaving a regular solution of soda crystals to soak for one hour, or overnight. Then simply wipe away the film with a cloth and rinse with clean water. An alternative quick, effective method of removing stubborn stains from tea and coffee cups is to apply equal parts of white vinegar and salt into a paste and wipe around the cup with a cloth, and then rinse thoroughly.


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