Written by: Christina Vestey

Marketing is an incredible tool to get us to think we need to buy things to live the lifestyle we aspire. It is very deliberate to make us feel we are missing out or inadequate if we don’t use certain products. No part of our life is left untouched. Including the products we buy to clean our households. We are made to feel our house won’t be clean if we don’t use certain products. Using the wrong detergent will leave our clothes stained. Our bathrooms and ovens won’t shine. The list goes on.

What advertisers don’t mention is the long list of harmful ingredients used to make these products. Some are mildly dangerous to human health. Causing eye irritations, skin rashes, headaches, and asthma. Others are potentially fatal and proven to be carcinogenic. Many cleaning products contain VOC’s which are volatile organic compounds, including ammonia and bleach. As the American Lung Association warns, “Cleaning supplies and household products containing VOCs and other toxic substances can include, but are not limited to:

  • Aerosol spray products, including health, beauty, and cleaning products;
  • Air fresheners;
  • Chlorine bleach*;
  • Detergent and dishwashing liquid;
  • Dry cleaning chemicals;
  • Rug and upholstery cleaners;
  • Furniture and floor polish; and
  • Oven cleaners.1,2

*Never mix bleach or any bleach-containing product with any cleaner containing ammonia. The gases created from this combination can lead to chronic breathing problems and even death.’’ Their report goes on to explain, that recent research reveals natural fragrances in cleaning products, especially air fresheners, can react with the ozone from indoor air sources and outdoor air to form formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. And ozone is a harmful but invisible gas, that worsens asthma and other lung diseases. Such particles can cause heart attacks and stroke.

Not only are these products expensive, but they are also harmful to our health. The reality is our grandmothers had clean houses, clean clothes, using only natural products that worked. Here are some of our tried and tested tips to make sure your home clean and healthy without wasting your money.

The main ingredients you will need are baking soda, vinegar, dish soap, castille soap and water!

All-Purpose Cleaner

 Mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda into 2 liters of water.

Laundry Detergent

Mix 2 cups of washing soda with the gratings from one 5-ounce bar of castile soap. Use 1 tbsp for light loads; 2 tbsp for heavy loads.

Limescale in kettles and taps

Pour half a cup of vinegar in a kettle with 2 cups of water and let boil for a few minutes. Soak tap filters in pure vinegar

Marks on Walls and Painted Surfaces

Apply baking soda to a damp sponge. Rub gently, then wipe and rinse.

This will clean most ink spots, pencil, crayon, or marker spots can be cleaned from painted surfaces 

Oven Cleaner

Moisten oven surfaces with sponge and water. Use ¾ cup baking soda, ¼ cup salt, and ¼ cup water to make a thick paste, and spread throughout the oven interior. (Avoid bare metal and any openings.) Let sit overnight. Wipe clean in the morning.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Mix 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar, pour into the toilet basin and let it sit for a few minutes. Scrub with brush and rinse.

Tub and Tile Cleaner

For simple cleaning, rub in baking soda with a damp sponge and rinse with fresh water. For more challenging jobs, wipe surfaces with vinegar first and follow with baking soda as a scouring powder. (Vinegar can break down tile grout, so use sparingly.

Window Cleaner

Mix 2 teaspoons of white vinegar with 1 liter of warm water. Use crumpled newspaper or cotton cloth to clean. Only use the black and white newspapers, not with colour print. Best not to clean windows if the sun is on them, or if they are warm, as streaks will show when dry. Please do not add more vinegar than the recipe states, as it may lead to etching and cloud glass.

Stainless Steel

Clean with a dampened cloth with undiluted white vinegar or olive oil. For stainless cookware, mix 4 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 liter of water and apply using a soft cloth. Wipe dry using a clean cloth. For stainless steel sinks, pour some baking soda on an absorbent cloth to clean, rinse, and wipe dry using a clean cloth.


Christina Vestey

At SheEvolves, I see my role as the coordinator and responsible for creating an environment where we can realise our vision as a collective. Today, my passion for creating spaces where Black and Brown African women can share their voices has grown more fervent. ¿Do you need anything from SheEvolves? Don't hesitate to write us at our Contact page!