How to use vinegar and baking soda to clean your home 

I’d like to make a natural cleaning solution to use in my kitchen and bathroom. What would you recommend?

There are a number of different recipes you might find useful, depending on the purpose of the cleaner. A simple paste, for example, can be made using one cup of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), one tbsp cream of tartar, one tbsp of environmentally friendly dish detergent, and two tbsp (30ml) of warm water. Mix the two powders, add the dish detergent, then slowly add the warm water, a teaspoon at a time, until you have a paste consistency.

You can add essential oil to this paste for additional antibacterial properties, and for that ‘fresh’ smell. Suitable essential oils include peppermint, tea tree, lavender, or clove bud. Store in an airtight container. This paste is ideal for kitchen and bathroom basins and benches — test in an inconspicuous area first if you are unsure as to how an abrasive paste will react with the surface.

Sodium percarbonate, often referred to as oxygen bleach, is a wonderful product to have on hand for eco-friendly laundry soaking, but it also does wonders for polycarbonate components of kitchen appliances, such as blender and food processor jugs that have become cloudy and discoloured.

Simply add a quarter cup of sodium percarbonate granules to the jug or bowl and fill with boiling water then leave the bubbling solution to soak until it is completely cold. This will not only remove stains but also leaves your appliances looking as good as new. Sodium percarbonate can also be used to revive your kitchen tea towels or dishcloths and bathroom hand towels or face cloths — add half a cup to the bottom of a laundry bucket, add very hot tap water, dissolve, and soak your towels or cloths overnight. Wash through your machine as usual.

For an all-purpose bathroom and kitchen spray, try combining one cup each of vinegar and water with 45ml (three tbsp) of environmentally friendly dishwasher detergent, and 1ml (20 drops) of essential oils. You can use a single essential oil or a combination of your choice. Eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender, peppermint, clove bud, spearmint, and citrus oils are all popular for their disinfectant, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. If you have delicate or painted surfaces, you might want to halve or exclude the essential oils.

A DIY solution to clean glass and mirrors is similar to the all-purpose spray: a cup each of water and vinegar, then add 15ml (one tbsp) of dishwasher detergent and a few drops of essential oil. 

Looking for essential oil ideas? Try making your own blend of the popular Thieves combination. This is reputedly the combination of oils used to protect thieves so they could rob the bodies of plague victims during the Black Plague. Researchers at Weber State University in Utah tested the oil blend and found that it is effective in killing airborne bacteria.

Thieves Blend

40 drops clove bud oil

35 drops of lemon oil

20 drops of cinnamon bark oil

15 drops of eucalyptus oil

10 drops of rosemary oil

I underwent an operation six weeks ago to repair a hip fracture. What can I do to speed up the healing process?

This is a long healing process, especially since it makes moving about and getting the blood flowing somewhat difficult. One of the best natural remedies for fractures is to apply comfrey topically. Comfrey (Symphytum officinale), also known as ‘knitbone’ can be useful in assisting the healing of complicated fractures, and also may help to reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling.

Comfrey is no longer recommended internally due to the presence of pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which can aggravate the liver. A good alternative is to take a homoeopathic comfrey preparation. I recommend Weleda’s Arnica Symphytum, which combines comfrey with arnica, to help with trauma, bruising, and tissue damage.

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