12 March 2010

Keeping House, With Herbs

Posted by Jody under: Cleaning Tips .

Throughout human history masculine interest in wild foliage, scented flowers and herbs has expanded over the centuries and formed the basis of modern medicines, personal hygiene, wild crafting and education…..

Keeping house, with herbs

There are few sensory experiences more pleasurable than the long lasting scent of aromatic herbs. Throughout history, masculine interest in wild foliage, flowers and herbs has expanded over the centuries and formed the basis for medicine, disease prevention, personal hygiene, culinary arts, crafts and education. Housework is not a modern inconvenience. A clean and beautiful home is a personal pride, and for some men it is a selfish passion. Natural plant scents have a history of changing the perspective of housecleaning into an art form of self-expression. They can literally change the way you view cleaning.

Beyond the clutter of our modern daily lives, we want our homes to smell fresh and dazzle with cleanliness. We want our furniture to glow, our floors to gleam, our countertops to shine, and our baths, showers and toilets to sparkle. Gone are the days when the immaculately dressed woman of the house would swoop through room by room dusting and polishing, scrubbing and sweeping. Every surface, every corner, and every closet, and launder, iron and press, and prepare lunch, dinner and supper everyday, and greet her family with a gleaming smile, ready to do it all again the following day. More and more men are taking over or fully participating in the shared role of house cleanliness.

Today, most of these ‘superwomen’ juggle a family, a career, after school schedules, travelling, and yet still they manage to make up forty-five percent of the professional workforce. But we still want clean and tidy homes. We still need to save time (and energy) in making our home a pleasant place to live. The key to succeeding this goal is simplicity.

The first step – stop buying, manufactured cleaning products. You have to admit that they are all over-powering to our senses. They smell bad (or at least artificial), and there’s no mistaking, they are bad, in fact, they are darn right, toxic. Not only are these products harmful to your skin, they’re health detrimental, and poisonous to our rivers, oceans and the delicate balance of ecosystems that make up our shared environment.

House cleaning can be simplified and earth-friendly. It can be achieved by anyone choosing to say no to packaging, toxic residues, health warnings and expense. Simplicity, reliance on natural resources and environmental conservation are the keys to home harmony and a major building block to creating a happy, clean and tidy home that is a pleasure to maintain and live-in.

Walk down any supermarket (housecleaning) isle, and take a deep breath. If you don’t become nauseated, wheeze or blinded by tears, you’ll part with a hefty charge. So let’s go au natural and save that money (which can add up to hundred of dollars a month) for the pleasures of personal leisure, or family enjoyment.

Out with the artificially dyed, chemically saturated and scented soap, furniture polish, bleaches, fabric softener, washing liquid and scourers. Out with the menu of harmful (and pronunciations that need a chemical scientist) and potentially hazardous ingredients such as ammonia, dyes, glycol, hydrochloric acid, paradichlorobenzenes, petroleum, phenol, propellants and sulfuric acid, to name but a few. Out with the plastic bottles, packaging and boxes that do more to increase our landfills than unblock drains or remove mildew.

In with natural earth-friendly ingredients such as grain vinegar, cornstarch, baking soda, borax, cold pressed seed/nut or grain oils. In with essential oils, scented flower water, herbal infusions, ground barks and spices. In with beeswax, lanolin, clays, carnauba wax (from palm leaves), fresh citrus juices, castile soap, and sodium lauryl sulfate (from coconut oil). In with vegetable juices, herbal decoctions and spice tinctures. In with making your own cleaning products.

Derived from natural resources (blessed gifts from the mother earth, and her plants, animals or insects) these ingredients possess powerful cleaning, scrubbing, washing and polishing abilities, and they are kind to your skin and lungs, too.

Make some of these herbal formulas that our family have adapted and lived by, from my grandparents, wisdom. For windows and mirrors, use freshly squeezed lemon juice, grain (white) vinegar, grapefruit and lemon balm essential oil. I make it fresh each time. As with all windows and mirrors, polish off streak-free with black/white print newspaper. The grapefruit essential oil is refreshing, while the mint keeps pesky flies and mosquitoes at bay.

To remove mildew (and prevent it coming back) in showers, bathtubs and kitchen sinks, make a fresh herbal infusion of fresh thyme leaves. Leave it to steep (infuse) in a covered pot for 3 day, then strain. Add a few drops of tea tree essential oil and spray on the surfaces prone to mildew build-up…

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