Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Betty B All-Purpose Super Cleaning Spray


If you go into a store and look at the aisle with cleaning products, you'll end up dizzy from all the different kinds for different purposes in garish colours and adorned with warning labels. Just imagine the endless amounts of chemicals we pour down our drains every day just from cleaning and then take a moment to look up what they do to our water supplies. And yet, for all those extensive lists of ingredients, many of them works surprisingly poorly.

I have been making my own cleaning products to and fro for years, and after much trial-and-erroring here's what I have decided is the absolute best for almost all home cleaning purposes (except, as always, very delicate stuff like your great-great-great grandmother's Georgian chairs and such, and, obviously, untreated wood of all kinds as it will dry it out).

The basic idea is this: you need something that works well on grease, that can be used on surfaces intended for food, and that works on limescale (essential for all areas where water is used like kitchen and bathroom). If possible, it would also be nice if it worked like a mild disinfectant, wouldn't it?

As a basic ingredient, some sort of soap-like substance is good for, you know, its cleaning qualities (I've figured out that soap cleans; isn't it great? My mother must be so proud). I use eco-friendly washing-up liquid, something that shouldn't be very hard to come by in any part of the world. Since you don't use very much, a bottle will last you a long time so even if your local store doesn't carry any good alternatives, buying online won't be too much of a hassle. And the good thing about washing-up liquid is that it will be tested and approved to use on dishes meant to eat from, right? So that's a nice guarantee for you that you can use it around the kitchen.

The next thing you want is something acidic. This is great for grease, and since limescale is basically calcium carbonate, it will react with acids (remember how acids and alkalines react to each other from chemistry class?) and become carbon dioxide (which is a major ingredient in the air we breathe) and water. Also, acids have certain disinfectant qualities as most bacteria don't like too acidic an environment (something your stomach knows and makes use of on a daily basis).

The acid in DIY recipes for cleaning products found online is often given as vinegar (or the much more concentrated ├Ąttika here in Sweden), but it isn't the only option. Vinegar smells like, you know, vinegar, and not everyone likes that, so instead, you can use citric acid, which is an industrially produced substance that is naturally found in citrus fruits among other things. Citrate, the conjugate base of citric acid is one of a series of compounds involved in the physiological oxidation of acetate from fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, and forms a vital part of cellular metabolism, and citric acid is used in the food industry as an emulsifying agent to keep fats from separating, to caramel to prevent sucrose crystallization and in all sorts of sour and/or fizzy things. In short, it's not some weird poisonous chemical – although as all acids, it can be dangerous in high concentrations. You can usually find citric acid in the food department of your grocery store.

Then, in order to get the right concentration and not just super acidic washing-up liquid, you need water. This can hopefully be found in your kitchen in generous amounts.

This was what I started out using, but I have added another, super-ingredient – alcohol. And because I'm lazy and want to be sure it's OK to ingest, I use some from my drink cabinet. That's right; I clean with cocktail ingredients, that's how badass I am. So why do I do that? Well, first, as everyone who did not grow up under a rock in the woods know, alcohol is a great disinfectant. It also helps dissolve the washing-up liquid into the water and obviously works as a preservative (hint: tap water isn't sterile), plus I find it helps with grease and leaves glass absolutely spotless. So, yeah, alcohol.

Now you can basically clean anything already, but it'd be nice if your cleaner also smelled nice, wouldn't it? That's why I add some essential oils as well. Which you pick is up to you, but I like a green, fresh feel to mine so I use tea tree oil (again, something with disinfectant qualities), rosemary and lemon. I also use gin as my alcohol of choice, because I like the added scent of the juniper. The choice, however, is entirely up to you.

The exact ration I use are:

2 tsp washing-up liquid
1 tsp citric acid powder
2 tbsp gin (or vodka)
2 cups of water
10-15 drops of tea tree oil/10-15 drops rosemary essential oil/10-15 drops lemon essential oil
or, 20 drops of any essential oil you fancy

Pour everything into a spray bottle, shake and clean away. I always keep this on hand in the kitchen since it's great to wipe down surfaces with, but I also use it for the bathroom (but sometimes I go for more perfume-y smells there, like lavender or geranium rather than tea tree and rosemary). It's excellent for washing windows and all sorts of glass surfaces (it's great for cleaning your spectacles) and works wonders on limescale. Just spray and wipe.

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