Heal Sustainability

Experience The Magic Of Using Natural Cleansers At Home

Vani Murthy

Founding Member of SWMRT, Brand Ambassador for Swachagraha & TEDx Speaker

9 min read

Keeping your home germ-free with natural cleaners and disinfectants may seem like an enormous task, but it’s really very easy and simple to achieve. Homemade cleaners are not only good to keep your home spick-and-span but are also a safer and healthier option for not just you and your family but the environment too! What’s amazing is that natural disinfectants are as effective as store-bought cleaners, minus the harsh chemicals. They are also inexpensive to make and offer way more health benefits.

Though I’m not backed by studies – I just believe that I don’t have to use chemicals. I don’t discharge chemicals from my home. That’s the only reason why I don’t use any chemicals. This has changed a bit due to the current pandemic that we are facing because we are now using sanitizers that are recommended with alcohol content, but for everything else I use natural cleansers.

Though the natural cleaners contain alcohol, I’m not very sure about how effective it is with the virus. There are people who are trying to test it out, so probably we will know how effective this is in future. We cannot take any risks right now. So my family and I have adopted a kind of a balanced approach. If we go out, then we definitely use alcohol sanitizers when we come back. But if we are in the house, we use the natural cleansers, as much as possible. Due to covid-19 we are now very careful so it has not replaced sanitizer for outside use.

I’ve stopped using chemicals at home since the last two years and I’m very happy about it. The homemade cleaner I prepare is basically a multipurpose cleaner for the house. You can use it to clean kitchen counters, stoves, tiles and so on. It sanitizes and leaves a sweet-smelling smell. It can also be used to clean the floor. Just put a capful of it in a bucket of water to mop the floor. Or simply put it in spray cans to clean glass things. What’s more, it can even been used as an organic pesticide for UR plants.

How to Make Natural Cleanser at Home?

It’s very simple to make this great concoction. There is a formula that I follow. Firstly, you need to collect the lemon and orange peels that you discard every day. If you don’t have enough, keep them in the refrigerator till you collect enough. I say enough because I mean there is a proportion you need to keep in mind. It is 1:3:10. So you need one part of jaggery, three parts peels and ten parts of water (for one litre). These are the three ingredients that you need from your kitchen to make this super cleaner.

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If jaggery is one part, you need to take 100 grams jaggery (soak it in the one litre of water) and take 300 grams of the peels and add the one litre of jaggery water to the collected peels. Ensure that the jar or bottle is a glass one. Also ensure there is some space left at the top of the jar as there will be a lot of gas buildup due to the fermentation.

In case you want to speed up the process you can use a little bit of dry yeast. Use just a pinch of dry yeast. The whole process occurs in one month’s time. If you don’t use dry yeast – it will take three months. Remember to close the lid of the jar tight. Every morning open it to release the gas for the first one week. One month down the line the liquid becomes clear. The end result is a bio enzyme produced from the citrus peels.

You can use orange, lemon or mosambi peels to get the bio enzyme. It is sweet-smelling and very lemony and citrusy. In case you are wondering about the stickiness of jaggery – you needn’t worry because when you get the final product it turns alcohol. Jaggery is the feed for the fermentation. It is the food source for the microbes when they are fermenting.

I also make a soap nut liquid with kukurkhai which is the natural soap. I use a little bit of the bio enzyme along with the soap nut liquid to wash my laundry too. This is my way of replacing chemicals in my home. It’s extremely important for us to understand that what we are discharging is harming the environment through the water that is coming out of our home.

We don’t know where the water system is ending up. These harmful chemicals that we use are definitely polluting our environment. So, as far as possible and as a citizen who cares for this planet, I try to keep away these chemicals from my home. For the past two years I haven’t used any cleaners that contain chemicals.
The pulp of the peels can be utilized to clean stuff as well. After you drain the excess water save the pulp and put it on your grimy chimney to clean it. Just leave it for 15 minutes and wipe off. Along with this you can add the soap nuts mixture to get that extra soapiness. It can be used as a liquid detergent to wash your crockery and can also be added to your dishwasher.

This natural cleanser can be used for multiple things. I’ve gone back to days when grannies used to use shikakai and ash for cleaning. That’s what I’m using now. I also use only natural fibres for cleaning. I don’t use commercially available cleaning pads and sponges as they have plenty of plastic in them which leads to the micro and nano plastic getting into the water waste. So it’s best to use ash, soap nuts and shikakai – these are all natural materials which are better because the post usage discharge is natural. The use of chemicals harms the environment.

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Avoiding chemicals and choosing to go the natural way may take a little effort, but considering we now have lots of time on our hands it will probably be easier to do. You can also store the bio enzyme, make it once a month or even once in two months. Many people visit juice shops to collect the leftover lemon and citrus peels to make large quantities which they may sell. The bio enzyme made from citrus fruits is a very good cleaner and doesn’t get spoilt for over a period of time if the proportion is right. But on the other hand, the kukurkhai soap nut mixture has to be made fresh and can’t be kept for long. It starts to smell. So you need to make small batches like every week or so, depending on how much you need.

This cleanser is a wonderful way to keep chemicals away and I’m just loving this change! Earlier, I had all kinds of chemicals at home including shampoo, but I stopped using store-bought shampoo too. The kukurkhai (soap nut liquid) is my shampoo and the bio enzyme which has a citrus smell works as my shampoo. The soap nuts can make the hair rough so I use a little of bio enzyme to soften my hair and I’m more than happy with the result.

Earlier when I used shampoos available in stores, I experienced a lot of hair fall. So much of hair would fall in the bathroom that I used to think – am I not healthy? Why is my hair falling? But after I stopped using chemical products I don’t have hair fall. It’s very important to use natural products because nowadays the use of chemicals gives rise to skin conditions like psoriasis. The chemicals can also cause dandruff and hair fall.

The bio enzyme has a very nice smell but if you want to make it better, you can add some essential oils. Add citronella or lemon essential oil for a nice fragrance. I try to use all things natural, but do I use a natural soap? Yes, my friend makes homemade soaps so I buy it from her. In fact, I stopped buying anything that is packaged and from the store. I’m cutting down and minimizing packaged stuff.

I use only used plastic bottles that I collect. I have stopped using Tupperware even in my kitchen. My kitchen is full of glass and stainless steel. There is no plastic in my kitchen. I use Tupperware for storing anything that is not edible. In my house, no water is stored in plastic. I store water only in glass or stainless steel.

This transformation came about after I witnessed a friend’s presentation on plastic. It made me realize how much plastic we take in. This is because the chemicals in the plastic leach into the food. Plastic containers are used to store food in the refrigerator, freezer and so on. Some dangerous lifestyle disease may also be avoided if you can bring about small changes in the way you live. Small changes can add to the betterment of your health. With these small changes, we can definitely save our homes and the planet too.

This natural cleanser is a good pet wash too. I don’t have pets but my friend uses it as a pet wash and says her pets’ coat is much better after using this. So like I said, it has multiple uses. Dilute it and spray on the plants in your garden and it becomes a pesticide or dilute it and put it in the soil to enhance its fertility. Overall, you can use this natural disinfectant as a shampoo (along with soap nut liquid), a detergent (along with soap nut liquid) to clean surfaces in the kitchen and glass things around the house. All you have to do is dilute it a bit. You can also use it as an organic pesticide and soil enhancer. It replaces many of your cleaners and is very effective. In fact, I’m in love with it – it’s one of the best things I have done.