Safe to Clean

Incredible home cleaning recipes

This week Jules writes, what I would consider, a basic article on healthy cleaning. But oh, how I wish she was my neighbor so I could have the benefit of learning a few more easy, useable things about keeping a home healthy. If she can't get you excited about Baking Soda, then no one can.

Welcome to you, whether you have been with us for a lifetime (Mom & Dad subscribe!), since the beginning of Goodbye Sandfly 13 years ago, since the start of INAB (It's Not About Bugs) 14 months ago, or whether this is your first issue. Together we are community.

With love, Becky

Safe to Clean

Jules Smith


A few years ago I started looking more closely at what I cleaned my home with. I was horrified to find that products I used to clean and disinfect my home and wash my clothes with, were made with some fairly scary ingredients.

Numerous dogs suffer with some sort of allergy, causing them to itch and scratch. The most common problems being food allergies or environmental triggers like grasses. Another cause that is often overlooked is the constant exposure to environmental chemicals, especially indoors. Many commercially available cleaning products emit toxic fumes that can irritate your pets. Around 95% of synthetic fragrances (a common ingredient in cleaning products) are a concoction of ingredients derived from petrochemicals, and manufacturers aren't required to list any of them on their products. These cleaners often use antibacterial substances that may actually make bacteria more resistant to cleaning products.

The biggest problem with using some of these ingredients is that our pets are low to the ground, walk around bare-foot then lick their feet. Anything that touches the skin, is ingested (or inhaled) and can be absorbed into your pet's body, with the potential to accumulate over time with resulting damage to health. The impact on your pet can range from allergic effects causing them to itch and scratch, to cancers, kidney or liver failure, or heart damage. All serious things that can be so easily avoided.

I also realised when I was going through the cleaning cupboard, that I had been conned by clever marketing people to accumulate a huge range of products to clean every type of surface in my home.

I decided to find alternatives that wouldn't harm me, my family, our pets, or the environment. I discovered the answer lay (mostly) in my pantry. I'd like to share a couple of simple recipes that I use to clean our home. They will not only clean, deodorise and disinfect your home but save you buckets of money, make your home smell lovely and help clear some space in that cleaning cupboard.

Natural cleaning recipes


The first one is my absolute favourite recipe – it cleans, deodorises, and sanitises just about any surface in our home. 1kg of Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda) mixed with half a teaspoon of pure essential oil. My favourite essential oils are Lavender, Lemon Myrtle, and Lemon Scented Tea Tree oil; they have antibacterial type properties, leave a nice clean smell, and are safe around your pets. You can also mix a little Manuka oil (not Australian Tea Tree oil– which should never be used around dogs). Any of these oils will add a slightly antiseptic/disinfectant smell to the baking soda. If you want to try this recipe but don't have any essential oils in the cupboards, try some vanilla essence– it won't have the antibacterial properties of the other oils but it will still clean your home and make it smell lovely.

Put the powder mix through a kitchen sieve two or three times – this ensures the essential oil is thoroughly mixed into the soda. This is my number one go-to product for cleaning our home.

Where can you use this recipe?

Sprinkle it on and using a damp cloth wipe over stovetops, cupboard fronts, the sink, the benches (perfect for stainless steel) and the oven (sprinkle it liberally on the surfaces of your oven, spray with a little water and leave overnight before rubbing off – it brings up the glass door beautifully).

Toilet and shower (including glass doors), just rub it on (I use a wet nylon loofah on the shower) and rinse off with hot water. Bath, sink, taps – sparkle like new if you give them a bit of a buff afterward.

Sprinkle it onto carpets leave for at least an hour before vacuuming off; it takes away any stuffy odours leaving the essential oil smell. Sprinkle into your car before you vacuum. Or if (like me) you can't be bothered vacuuming sprinkle under the mats where you can't see the powder and just leave it there– it works a treat. A friend of mine spilt milk in the back of her car during summer, after cleaning it up she sprinkled the magic powder on the spot a couple of times and the smell completely disappeared.

Sprinkle in on the dog's bed or in the kennel to neutralise doggy smells. Sprinkle it directly on the dog if they need a bath and you just can't spare the time.

Sprinkle it into smelly shoes.

Sprinkle it onto a small piece of sheepskin or cloth and put it under your arms after a shower as a deodorant – seriously, it works brilliantly.

Window Cleaner:

My second recipe is a simple window cleaner.

If you have dogs you will know how much they love to lick and rub their noses up against windows. Our dog's absolute favourite time is right after we've cleaned the windows. Using this simple recipe ensures she isn't licking residues of ammonia-based products.

Fill a spray bottle 2/3 with water 1/3 with white vinegar and a drop of dishwashing liquid. If you need a nice after-smell so you feel you have cleaned the surface it works just as well with a couple of drops of lavender essential oil added.

Spray it on the window, wipe with a cotton rag and polish up with screwed up newspaper.

For large windows or glass doors use a sponge to wet and clean the glass and a rubber squeegee to remove.

Floor cleaner:

For washing floors (ours are polished concrete) I use a version of the window cleaner.

Fill a bucket with hot water; add a slosh of vinegar (1/4cup), 5 -8 drops of essential oil and a squirt of washing up liquid.

This won't polish your floors but it will give them a good clean. If you come across any stubborn spots just sprinkle a little bit of the bicarbonate powder mix and mop clean.

I don't like to spend hours cleaning and polishing but I do like to live in a clean house that smells nice. For that reason products have to produce results with little effort. I have found these do a great job. They don't leave toxic residues and might just help you with pet and family health.

Check it Out

I received this from Peta Carey, who wrote a beautiful article for us in May on timeless in Fiordland. She has finished an article for North and South which has just come out this week. She says it's, 'a reasonably complex but, I hope, understandable story of the issues surrounding DoC's decision to grant 'Concession in Principle' to both Monorail and Tunnel proposals in Fiordland. Although many of you will already be aware of the debate, this story goes a little further into 'due process', and has implications for our entire Conservation Estate. Perhaps you might then be able to shove it under the noses of those who wouldn't otherwise take the time to think about it (got nice pics too). Now‚ go buy it! Skip the editorial at the beginning of the mag though, if you are passionate but not an 'expert', it will get up your nose. Or at least it did mine. But then again, I'm passionate and not an 'expert.'

From You

'The main veggie garden is pretty much chocka-block with spring plantings and winter/spring veggie doing their thing. Have spaghetti squash plants awaiting a brand new garden bed in prime position ‚I will post a photo when they're all tucked in :)' Miriam


Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being. Mahatma Gandhi

Don't say 'It's Good for You'

I believe natural living is fun- It also happens to be 'good for you', but preaching is not my calling.

I don't know if you've noticed, but what we're doing with this magazine is incredible. We put a whole lot of love and effort into bringing you real, usable, motivating stories that give you more life for your life.

Please choose ONE person to write a note to and let them know what you're part of creating, of how much you get from being part of this community. Then they can be part of the fun in the next issue too.

Celebrating Clean Water, with thanks, Becky

About the author

Jules Smith

Founder & Director of Washbar

Jules Smith is a founder and director of WashBar‚ an emerging New Zealand company specialising in natural products for pets. Pets have always been a big part of Jules life her mother bred Labrador dogs and Siamese and Devon Rex cats. As a child, she had pet guinea pigs and even a pet rat. Later in life, she became concerned about the long term effects of chemical toxicity on pets. WashBar was born from that concern and a request from a friend to develop a natural skin treatment for her dog. Jules lives on a 40-acre lifestyle property with her husband Pete, 2 cats, twenty odd cattle and an expanding herd of goats. The property borders the Wairua River in Whangarei and with 1.5 kilometers of river frontage the couple have set about fencing livestock off the waterways and planting hundreds of trees every year. The property generates its own power, and no -we aren't hippies, quite the reverse. I couldn't live without the big screen TV, the dishwasher or my espresso machine. You can take the girl out of the city, but you can't take the city out of the girl.