Things that have gone – 14

Well, I managed to get rid of some more items! Despite thinking that I wouldn’t. I filled another bag for charity – I finished reading a couple of books that had no trade in value. Likewise we watched a DVD that was worth 1p to trade-in, so better to let a charity take it. I had a picture frame that I’d been holding onto for 20 years +, planning to frame a tapestry I completed as a child. I gave away the mounts last week, so it was time for the frame to go. I didn’t even like it! It was dark wood and ugly.

I also traded in a corduroy shirt that was a bad buy from a charity shop because it was a colour I’d never wear, with ridiculous cuffs. I’ll put that one down to experience. Finally, I found some polystyrene Christmas trees I’d been intending to turn into Christmas decorations, by covering them in sequins. Well, I completed 1 and it took so long, I never got down to the rest. Almost 2 years later, I was ready to accept that I wasn’t going to complete the rest.

I also took 3 DVDs to CEX and traded them in, one was a box set. So that’s cleared some space under the TV. Then, I traded in 2 books I’d finished reading and netted myself just over £6 for them. Not bad when I only paid £1.75 for them in a charity shop! The minimising continues…

How to make your own Eco, Zero Waste Disinfectant Spray.

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We all need something to keep areas in the house sanitary; like toilets and in my home, cat litter trays. I have been using this recipe for a couple of years now and I wouldn’t change back! Get yourself down to you nearest £1 store and purchase one of these metal spray bottles. They’re usually with the hair accessories.

Ingredients

  • Basics Vodka
  • White vinegar
  • Tea tree oil
  • Cooled, boiled water

Method

  1. Combine 1/2 cup of Vodka with 1/2 cup of white vinegar and pour it into your spray bottle. I find a funnel is useful to avoid spillages!
  2. Add about 10 drops of tea tree oil which is a natural antiseptic, or you can simply leave it unscented if you prefer.
  3. Top up with enough cooled, boiled water to fill the container (usually 1-1 1/2 cups).
  4. Shake to combine all the ingredients thoroughly!

Important note – it’s vital that you use cooled, boiled water if you want this to keep. Boiling the water kills any microorganisms. It usually lasts me about 1 month and I use it to clean 2 toilets and 2 cat litter trays per week.

To use – just spray on your surfaces and wait 10 minutes, for it to do its disinfecting magic!

Things that have gone this week- 14 & 15

My decluttering has slowed with good reason, so I will probably only post these updates periodically from now one. Still – 3 months of solid decluttering is pretty good going. I’d in-fact say I’ve completed 7 months of decluttering – since I started before Christmas! I just only started documenting the process 3 months ago.

In the past 2 weeks, I have away a room-sized piece of carpet that had been taken up and a room’s worth of carpet underlay. I sold a craft kit on eBay and I took a big bag of stuff to a charity shop. It contained a food serving tray that I was given when I set up home. I’d never used it and I had to wonder why I’d kept it all these years. It was the old ‘it might be useful’ approach!

We were given an UGLY soft toy monster by some relatives who stayed in May. I know I should’ve photographed it for fun. I smiled gratefully, accepted it and promptly put it in a bag to go to charity as soon as they left! Actually, my husband says we should keep these kinds of gifts; since people made them for us. I just bag ’em up and he never misses them, since we neither have need for them nor find them attractive to have around – I basically don’t see the problem.

I also gave away a pair of slippers a family members had asked us to keep here, for when they come to stay. The most ridiculous part was, they only ever came here once a year AND they never wore the slippers! I bet they won’t even know they are gone, on their next visit.

I also gave away several books I’d finished reading which is progress for me – as I always used to hold on to everything I’d ever read, pretty much. I gave away a large clip frame and mount, along with some more mounting board that I think I’d literally had for 20 years and never used! We paid to have our pictures professionally framed and they look great. Sure, there are ways to save money but learning to picture frame isn’t one for me. I was too scared of doing a crap job and paying someone else – meant the job actually got done and done well.

Do you have any decluttering stories to share? Do post in the comments 🙂

Zero-waste, Eco, Plastic-Free & Cheap Cleaning Products!

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Today I’m going to share with you my Zero-Waste (almost!), eco, cheap and as plastic free as possible cleaning products! What a mouthful. Well, Zero Waste is almost never straightforward is it?

I am trying to find alternatives to all my normal, toxic cleaning products. I’ll admit I’ve had mixed success thus far, but these are my staple products, along with a bottle of Basics Vodka (around £10), a 5L bottle of white vinegar from Makro (cheapest place I can find it £2-£3) and a bottle of tea tree oil (approx 99p from my local pharmacy). I’ll list where I find them cheapest and compared to your ‘normal’ cleaning products, these tend to work out much cheaper. Dri-Pak make all the products you need and they also make them under Wilko’s own brand;

  1. Soda crystals (unfortunately packaged in plastic and they’re not prepared to change this. I’ve tried asking many times!) (65p a bag in Home Bargains)
  2. Bicarbonate of Soda (£1 per box in Savers)
  3. Borax Substitute (£1.79 a box in Robert Dyas)
  4. Citric Acid (£1.29 a box in Home Bargains, £1.50 a box in Wilko)
  5. Liquid Soda Crystals (£1 a bottle in Wilko)
  6. Liquid Soap Flakes (not pictured) £2.50 a bottle in Wilko)
  7. Liquid Bicarb (I can’t find this anywhere, or persuade them to stock it but it is available on places like Amazon and eBay at a price because of the weight of shipping). I’d love to try it as an alternative to Cif, as I find just sprinkling the powder about is not so convenient.
  8. White Vinegar (Wilko sell a spray bottle but I prefer to buy in bulk for much greater savings and decant into my own spray bottle.

If you can’t find them in the places above, then see if you have a local, independent hardware store. I have no problem locating them there, but they do cost a bit more. But then you are supporting a local business.

I will post some ‘recipes’ in some future posts, but I make my own disinfectant spray for cleaning the toilets and it works really well. We’ve been using it for the longest, over 1 year now and we’ve never gotten sick. I think it’s really effective and it’s great knowing it’s non-toxic. It’s made from white vinegar, vodka and a few drops of tea tree oil along with some cooled, boiled water. I also use it to keep cat litter trays clean. You do need a little more patience than with regular disinfectant, as you need to let it sit for 10 minutes to get to work. I just tackle another cleaning task whilst I wait.

I use soda crystals to keep my drains clear. Each week I pour a quantity into the plug hole and flush down with a kettle of boiling water. Maintenance is the key here, so do it regularly to avoid a big blockage. They are also great for softening water and I use a tablespoon in every wash which makes my laundry powder go MUCH further. You can read about this here.

I use liquid soda crystals with a metal scourer to keep my oven clean. I have posted about this before here, if you want to see the detail. I clean all mirrors and glass with white vinegar. I tried using newspaper but it made a terrible mess, so I am sticking with my microfibre cloths at the moment, though I know they are probably shedding plastic microfibres into the water system. They are AMAZING for keeping my shower free of limescale, without the need for chemicals. Read more here.

I have recently tried making my own dishwasher detergent powder from bicarbonate of soda and borax substitute. It might be plastic free, but it’s as ineffective as Sainsbury’s own brand. Sorry, but I’m going back to plastic wrapped tablets again.

I use liquid soap flakes for delicate, hand wash laundry items and I love it because it’s fragrance free. I don’t think I could afford to use it for all my washing as it’s not concentrated and I hate that it comes in plastic containers. I’d rather buy my laundry powder which comes in a cardboard box! You can also use them as a liquid hand wash.

Each week, I descale my kettle (we live in a very hard water area) with citric acid. I also do the same to the toilets once a month. I highly recommend it, it’s super-easy and the instructions are on the side of the box.

Finally, I’ve also been experimenting with cleaning the inside of the toilet bowl with bicarb and vinegar. I’ve also tried spraying in liquid soda crystals. I’m not currently convinced of their efficacy and the cost because of the amount you need to use, what with the limescale here etc seems prohibitive to me. I’m going to persevere a little longer, but I have a feeling I’m going back to a chemical cleaner in a plastic container – simply because they are around £1 a bottle, last for ages and tackle cleanliness, freshness and limescale in one hit and much more quickly than homemade remedies.

I’d recommend reading the Dri-Pak website, for lots of tips and tricks. Also check out Youtube if you need instructional videos. Do you have any tips for natural cleaning remedies that work? Do get in touch – I’d love to share the knowledge 🙂

Things that have gone this week – 5

Well, I was hoping a few more items would sell on eBay this week. But only 3 things have gone – a pair of shoes, a white blouse and a red dress. This pair marks the 12th pair of shoes I have gotten rid of! 12 pairs of shoes and I don’t even notice the difference. I still have more than 12 pairs, so a few more need to go!!!

Despite this, I have also recycled a whole lot of old papers and cards. Goodness knows why I was holding onto them! I had a Birthday card from 20 years ago amongst my selection. I am hoping to give away or donate some items too this week, either to charity shops or on Freecycle. I also traded in 14 books on www.webuybooks.co.uk which was a medium sized box worth. So there is definitely a little more space here!

How to Save Money on Laundry Detergent

Buying laundry detergent can be mind-boggling because there is such an array of products on the shelves these days! Did you know that the majority of products on UK supermarket shelves are all made by only 2 global brands? Shocking, I know. You wouldn’t believe it from their marketing.

At the end of the day, that is what you’re paying for when you buy from a market leader – their advertising and the branding of the product. Didn’t you notice how often they re-design their packaging? Or how often their TV adverts change? Essentially all laundry detergents are the same, no matter what their format – powder, liquid or capsule. But the way you use them can also be beyond confusing – should you put it in the drawer, the drum or a wash ball? Honestly, the main difference between them all is price and how much damage they can do to your washing machine – yes really!

Liquid detergent gunks up your machine over time and capsules are worse because they are made of plastic, it never fully dissolves and can also damage your machine as it builds up inside. Capsules make a mess in your machine, where they stick when they don’t dissolve. Both liquid and capsule detergent also blocks your pipes over time, take it from someone who knows! The drain ‘doctor’ strongly advised never to use anything by laundry powder. If it does that to your pipes, then goodness knows what it’s doing to the inside of your machine.

Remember that you will always pay for convenience, so by buying capsules – you are spending maximum money! As there is no option to change the capsule dose – a capsule is a capsule, it’s a pre-set dose) for each wash, you could easily be using far more detergent than you actually need, particularly if you soften your water (more on that below). Powders are by far the cheapest to produce (and also happen to be the most eco-friendly, if you purchase them in cardboard) and so, they are the cheapest for consumers to buy. All manufacturers will send you a dosing scoop for free, if you send away to the address on the side of the pack. So there is absolutely no reason why you can’t take a moment to measure the correct amount each time.

Now, back to the issue of softening the water. Any detergent needs to soften the water before it can get to work. This is an important issue in the UK, as most places suffer hard water. Save yourself some more money by softening your water with a cheaper product than your expensive laundry detergent! Don’t waste your money on an expensive limescale prevention product; brand name or supermarket own! All you need is a 60p bag of Soda Crystals from Dri-Pak purchased at Home Bargains. (They are available elsewhere, for  about 40p more, like Wilko and Sainsbury’s). Add about a tablespoon with your detergent at each wash, just put it into the drawer.

Use MySupermarket to find out when your preferred brand of laundry detergent is on offer, so you always pay the lowest possible price and buy the biggest pack available (buying in bulk=big savings) – usually 65 washes these days for £10. (Don’t get me started that a couple of years ago you used to get 85 washes for the same price!!!) Though personally, with the addition of Soda Crystals I can make my box last about twice as long as that.

Finally, stop using fabric softener – it’s completely unnecessary and actually decreases the absorbency of towels and can make other clothing more flammable! Use about 50ml of white vinegar instead. It doesn’t make your laundry smell, but it will soften it without the needs for artificial chemicals and fragrances. It’s also a lot kinder on your wallet too – I can pick up 5 litres for £2.00.

I hope this helps you to save money on your laundry.

How to clean your oven a more natural way

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Today, we’re taking a short break from discussing survey sites to talk about cleaning your oven! We’re going to cover how to clean it in a more environmentally friendly and less toxic way, saving yourself a heap of money. Not to mention saving you and your family’s health by not spraying around toxic fumes.

I used to try and clean my oven with toxic chemical cleaners. Not only are they expensive, but they never delivered what they promised! They were just another bottle to clutter up under the sink. Now I just use Dri Pak Soda Crystals which are non-toxic, natural and very cheap. I simply fill my bath with hot water, add about 1/4 packet of soda crystals and leave all my oven racks to soak for about 10 minutes. Then I use a couple of soap filled pads, like these Brillo pads and the grease and grime comes away easily. You can see in the picture, it almost instantly gets to work. In about half an hour, I can have my oven looking like new and sparkling clean for about 20p! The only catch is, then I have to clean the bath! lol I think that’s a small price to pay.