Saturday, April 25, 2009

Herbs in the home

I'm very late with this post, mainly because we've had some trouble with our Internet connection, broke down in my car on the motorway yesterday - long story - and we've been packing for our holiday. But today's post is one I feel passionate about. I love herbs, growing them and using them for cooking. But herbs are also great to use around the home. In fact, have you seen the BBC show 'How to grow your own drugs' ? Sounds a bit dodgy I know, but it's not at all. The presenter is a botanist showing how to make basic health remedies from herbs you can grow in the garden... I've got my eye on the book, and it's on my Amazon wish list now. One of the great recipes shows how to use hops under your pillow to relieve insomnia - so simple, but apparently is works.

As you might have noticed before, I am not a fan of chemicals and generally prefer 'natural' solutions. I've gathered some great simple and natural recipes for using herbs to clean and freshen the home, I hope you can make use of them. I've not tried all of these myself, but do let me know if you use any of these successfully. And I think Spring is just the right time to try them out!

Many of these recipes include Eucalyptus oil. Eucalyptus is a great oil that every household should have alongside a bottle of Lavender oil. It's also readily available from supermarkets and chemists. Eucalyptus is not only a disinfectant, but will also keep pests such as moths and fleas out of your home, and it smells really fresh too.

Lavender fresh carpets
The first recipe is one I saw on the program "How Clean is Your House?" with the brilliant and funny Kim and Aggie. Mind you, it's a pretty grim program, and I reckon most people watch it to be able to say 'at least my house isn't THAT bad'. Goodness, I hope there aren't many houses around as dirty as those ones - some of the houses shown on the program makes me feel ill, yuk! This recipe is to freshen up carpets in preparation for vacuuming...

Mix some bicarbonate of soda with some fresh lavender that has been slightly bruised and crushed in a pestle and mortar. Add them to a shaker pot and sprinkle over the carpet surface. Leave for approximately 30 minutes before vacuuming the carpet thoroughly.

The lavender not only makes your carpet smells nice, but as it gets vacuumed up, the lavender scent will be spread around the room through the vacuum's air outlet... lovely!

All Purpouse Thyme Cleaner
Thyme is a disinfecting herb that can be used safely around the house.

2 1/2 cups water
1 handful thyme (fresh or dried)
Liquid castille soap (squirt)

Boil the water and then add the thyme. Simmer for 3 hours over medium-low heat, covered. Cool, then strain. Pour the water into a spray bottle, top with white vinegar and add a squirt of soap. Use as needed.

Herb Disinfectant Cleaner
This spray cleaner disinfects surfaces, kills mold, and discourages its return. Eucalyptus,
lavender, and tea tree are all known for their antimicrobial properties.
1 tsp. sodium lauryl sulfate
1 tsp. borax
2 Tbs. white vinegar
2 cups hot water
1/4 tsp. eucalyptus essential oil
1/4 tsp. lavender essential oil
3 drops tea tree essential oil
Mix all ingredients together and stir until dry ingredients dissolve. Pour into spray bottle. To use, spray as needed on any surface except glass. Scrub and rinse with clean, damp cloth.
*Source: The Herb Companion, September 1999

Lavender Laundry
A brilliant Martha tip: Add a Lavender Bag to your dryer when drying your linen and sheets. Can be used at least 25 times.

Lavender Gentle Scourer
3/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup powdered milk
1/8 cup (one-eighth) liquid castile soap
5 drops lavender Essential Oil

Combine all ingredients and add enough water to make a smooth paste. Apply to surface, then wipe area clean with a damp sponge or cloth. Rinse well.

Linen Spray
1/2 cup Distilled Water
1/2 cup Vodka
10 drops Eucalyptus oil or any other favourite essential oil

Mix the ingredients and pour into a spray bottle. Shake before use.

Tub Scrub
1 cup Baking Soda
15 drops Eucalyptus oil

Mix the baking soda and oil well then scrub onto bathroom tub and sink with a damp sponge. Leave sit for a bit before rinsing off with clear warm water. I can personally vouch for this recipe working a treat! It really does take the hard work out of cleaning a dirty bathtub and leaves the bathroom smelling clean.

I hope you enjoy and try out some of these - do let me know how you find them in comparison to the usual chemicals in brightly coloured bottles you can buy? I still get sidetracked and end up buying some, but I'm always sorry when I smell those nasty smells.

I found many of the recipes from this fabulous website, take a look for some more:

And a great website to buy bulk cleaning basics such as borax and castille soap in the UK is Summer Naturals.

I'll be away for two weeks - we're off to Egypt! It will be our first ever visit there, and I'm ridiculously excited about it, walking around the house singing 'walk like an Egyptian' over and over. It also means two weeks to get me out of my cleaning routine, so I'll need to remind myself how to do things by the time I get back, so right now I'm off to clean the house before our holiday. Getting back from holiday is always a bit of a downer, but less so if you return to a clean and fresh home. Have a great couple of weeks!



Vintage Tea said...

My mum has really been enjoying the Grow Your Own Drugs prog and I brought her the book for Mothers Day (esp as I wanted a sneak at the "recipes" too!).

Have a fabulous time in Egypt. I've been to Sharm-El-Shiek before but never the pyramids and would love to do a nile cruise one day.

Victoria xx

Sue at Dollytub Cottage said...

Have a lovely holiday. I've always wanted to to Egypt, Lucky you! SueX

Anonymous said...


Love this post!

I am growing a few herbs in a window box myself (no garden, sob!) but I have every intention of doing good things with them!

Rose XXX

ps, have a great time in egypt, it's on my (ever growing) list of all time fave places to go (and have never been to lol)

Ivy said...

EYGYPT! Wow! have a great holiday!

Lori J. said...

You are AMAZING! I loved all this information. I too use natural cleaning products, and these are awesome recipes you have here. I'm also obsessed by "How clean is your house" I watch it on youtube since I can't get it here. They are too cute and always have some natural cleaning tip it seems.
Sorry I've been away from my tea blog. I just posted an update to explain. Hope to see you there if you get a chance! :) Hope you had a fun time in Egypt! How cool!

A note on perfection

Many of the posts featured on this blog are about doing household chores the correct, or so to say perfect way. My intention is not to make readers feel that the way they are running their households are wrong. So if making the bed, or ironing shirts in a certain way doesn't fit your lifestyle, do not feel guilty about it. But by learning the correct way of doing things it might just come in handy for those times when special guests are staying, or when you need to iron that shirt perfectly for a job interview. So enjoy the learning, but skip the guilt and LOVE your homes. x

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