Merlin Unwin Books, 2020

ISBN: 978-1913159177


Reviewed by Piers Warren

This book encourages you to ditch the chemicals and take a more natural approach to cleaning your house using simple ingredients. Along the way you will avoid putting harmful chemicals down the drain or breathing in toxic fumes, will reduce your consumption of plastic bottles, and will save money.

There is no catch – except you have to make your own cleaning products – but, as the author points out, this is easily done and can be a creative and enjoyable process. The 160 different recipes can feel rather overwhelming but most of them involve different mixtures of common ingredients such as vinegar, sodium bicarbonate, washing soda, lemon juice and so on. The reason there are so many recipes is that some of them are very specific, for example there are four different recipes for cleaning your fridge, and thirteen for cleaning different parts of your car! But don’t let this put you off, the author also outlines how to make general multi-propose cleaners, which will suit many situations.

The first chapter, entitled The Short Philosophy of Cleaning, covers how clean we need to be and why, the dangers of using industrially-produced cleaning products, some science on how cleaners work and what raw materials and basic ingredients you need. It makes eye-opening reading and certainly focuses the mind on the power of advertising; how easy it is to fall for bottles of ready-made answers to your problems, not realising how damaging some of the toxins used can be. Not just damaging to the environment – by pouring chemicals down the drain and throwing away packaging – but also directly damaging to our own health.

The remaining chapters are mostly taken up with different recipes for different applications and are arranged into the following areas: multi-purpose cleaners, the kitchen, the bathroom, windows, laundry, wooden floors and furniture, carpets, air fresheners and room sprays, cleaning agents for metals, car cleaning, and a final chapter on how to make your own soaps.

The book certainly fits well with my desire to reduce my carbon footprint and reduce pollution and my use of plastics. The recipes sound simple and straightforward and I definitely intend to make an effort to take a more natural approach to cleaning. I have already added some of the basic ingredients to my shopping list and plan never again to buy a plastic bottle with a skull and crossbones on the label!