Tuesday, March 6

Before I Recommend

My views and opinions on cleaning products are very personal and they might not match your own; we all unique with our very own circumstances and criteria.
My first category is the naturals. A website I would suggest you have a look at should you be interested in using natural products is www.dri-pak.co.ukI am generalising here but these are the products our grandmothers and great grandmothers used. They do work but comparing them to what most of us are familiar with today they do lack sophistication and ease of use. Today for instance I used liquid soda crystals and bicarbonate of soda to clean my kitchen sink – it’s very clean now but the bicarb took ages to rinse off and without buffing dry there are a few smears. I also now have the hands of a scullery maid.

The star of this collection has to be soda crystals for their all round usability. And they are reasonably cheap to buy. Great for keeping drains clean and free flowing (use weekly) and quite magical when used for soaking oven shelves. But there is nothing instant about them.
White vinegar is another star performer; more expensive than supermarket own brand window cleaners, it does smell – yes you've guessed it of vinegar but the smell wears off very quickly.
Environmentally friendly products.
This is where I am going to be a little outspoken so prepare yourselves – before I go into any detail I want you the reader to think about when you buy (if you do) these products? I’m going to suggest that there is a certain amount of fantasy and aspiration that we as consumers have been sold as part of the environmentally friendly bandwagon. I also think guilt has a large part to play as well.
Of course I don’t think there is any one who has absolutely no regard for the environment, but does buying Ecover washing up liquid really make the difference to the way this world is heading? My biggest bugbear is how influential lifestyle magazines that make us hanker after off white carpets and pristine houses and expect us to keep this fantasy clean with EF cleaning products!
Nothing I tried was better than a “regular” product. Saying that I have a few products I perverse with – the washing up liquid, and the general purpose cleanser.
The other major consideration is cost – these products are expensive and are very rarely on special offer.

The Big Guns
I am 43 years old. I can remember my mother soaking things in buckets, her preoccupation of grease marks and "under"stains; so I make no apology for choosing to use biological washing powder. I do however only use half the recommend dose and spray grease marks with a pre-treat spray just before my clothes go into the washing machine.
I am currently in love with a spray surface cleaner that took my eye in Waitrose, but I am fickle when it comes to this sort of product and will be lured into buying special offers should the packaging not be too gaudy or brash (I have issues with Mr Muscle)
And then there's my beloved Cif which I refer to as Jif it's old name. I do use it sparingly and I don't know what else I can say about it -it works!

Tomorrow I shall finish my personal cleaning Odyssey with tips! And then I feel it will be back to business as usual:)


  1. Brilliant! Both the post and CIF:) Cif oxy gel is really great too. Just thought, do you work for the CIF marketing department? If you don't perhaps you should:)

  2. I still haven't found CIF yet, but their company, Unilever, is well known here (in fact, I have some of their hair shampoo). I admit I don't solely use eco friendly products, but on the other hand, I don't buy the harshest/strongest cleaning chemicals either. What causes major concerns where I live, is the amount of lawn fertilizers and pesticides many people use, as the chemicals leach into the many freshwater ponds we have here on Cape Cod. Organic lawn products are fast becoming popular here. Sorry, I just went off onto another subject! =O

  3. If ever fame knocks on my door I shall demand my face be on the front of every Cif bottle in the world:)

    Louise - Hi. You see there is an great example you have given us - why worry about using "normal" household cleaning products when you can make a much bigger impact by using organic lawn fertilizer. I think it would really, really interesting to know exactly what makes a difference and what doesn't, relatively speaking of course.

  4. I still refer to Cif as Jif! That's what it was called when I was growing up and somehow I can't think of it any other way. I'm really enjoying reading your thoughts on cleaning products. I'm definitely going to check out the website you recommended. I do like the idea of using some of the old fashioned products. I do know what you mean though when you say about whether just using ecover washing up liquid really makes a difference. But I guess it's all those tiny little 'differences' that hopefully add up to a big difference.

  5. Anonymous2:12 PM

    Very interesting blog... i use Soda Crystals for just about all my household cleaning.

    Couple of other tips - Bicarbonate of soda is also a great oven cleaner (when made into a paste) and Liquid Soda Crystals is also good at removing grease frommmy health grill and pans.

  6. I used to work for the Hunterian Art Gallery at the University of Glasgow. I was curator of British Art and one of my roles was to do research and take tours round The Mackintosh House - a reconstruction/restoration of the house which he lived in in Glasgow.

    The drawing room and the bedroom were completely cream, cream furniture, cream carpets, cream linen curtains. Even I believe, cream persian cats. Very much indeed like a Homes and Interior magazine interior today.

    It was heated by coal fires.

    At exacty the same date the owner of Pollok House, a stately home in Glasgow, but further away from the smokey smog of the city was complaining as her new sofas had only lasted a year before they were completely grimy.

    Something doesn't compute. I suspect the Mackintoshes of setting everything up for the photographer (Reconstruction is based on a set of magazine photographs).

    A tragic story about Jif. My husband works with recovering drug addicts - heroin addicts use lemon juice to dissolve their heroin in before injecting. One new user got confused and used jif cleaner. You can imagine the result.
    Euan now takes cif to his school anti drug talks.

  7. I don't wish to alienate anymore visitors to my blog but I am always slightly suspicious of people with large swathes of cream; I am unable to relate to cream sofas at all! not living with a spaniel who has never learn to wipe his feet.
    That is a very sad story of Jif/Cif but with my warped sense of humour I smiled when I read heroin addicts actually use lemon juice, although probably not as nature intended!

    Hello Anonymous;-) I have been delighted with the liquid soda crystals - my only gripe is the spray bottle itself, not very ergonomic.

    Hello Fiona, you're right every little bit helps, but I do think none of us should feel too guilty about cleaning products - not when you think how industry pollutes the world on such a large scale.

  8. I was just reading this post again, and had to share... the other day when I started my car, it was so cold outside that I could see all the exhaust fumes flowing from the tailpipe! I felt VERY guilty watching this (hubby is my witness!), but at least my car has passed its necessary emissions test. If places were closer and we had trains as you do, you can bet I'd be taking them!

  9. Louise, if you had a train service like ours I bet you wouldn't!


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