Natural cleaning products such as bicarbonate of soda, vinegar, lemon, salt, olive oil and washing soda could save you money

Ditch the Mr Muscle and Domestos for natural cleaning products

Ditch the Mr Muscle and Domestos for natural cleaning products

December is a time when many of us need all the help we can get to save money.

Even if you follow all the tips in Ealife’s Christmas thrifty special last week, it will still probably be the most expensive month of the year for many.

So I’ve been looking for other ways to cut costs and stumbled on a little book that may just help.

Cheaper Living, by Helen Swaffer, is packed with ideas to cut costs on those everyday essentials that can end up getting quite expensive.

The book aims to help anyone who needs to reduce their costs, for whatever reason, while still living well.

Helen suggests making cleaning products with things probably already lurking at the back of the kitchen cupboard - bicarbonate of soda, vinegar, lemons, salt, olive oil and washing soda.

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This is an idea I like. Cleaning products are not only hugely expensive but can be full of powerful chemicals I am always a little worried about getting too close to. And they’re often bad for the environment. Unfortunately, some of the ‘greener’ cleaners you can buy come at a hefty premium.

So this week, I’ve been trying a few of Helen’s ‘recipes’ and ideas for cleaning, using white vinegar as a dishwasher rinse aid and combining it with bicarbonate of soda and washing soda for a drain cleaner and freshener. Both have worked really well. So well, in fact, that I’ll be trying a few more this week, including her homemade disinfectant made of water, tea tree, lavender and lemon oils.

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There are also chapters looking at food, foraging, pets (including making your own dog food), and toiletries. And if you thought olive oil was just for cooking (or even cleaning), you’re wrong. Helen suggests combining it with salt to make a facial scrub and using it as a post-shower skin moisturiser.

Finally, there’s a section on ideas for making extra cash and, of course, how to save money at Christmas. Talking of which...

My own thrifty Christmas plan is so far working well. I’ve stuck to budgets for the presents I have bought, cut out others altogether and got a few ideas for making inexpensive gifts. But I’ve still got to face the biggest test. Food shopping.....

Email Sheena, or tweet her using #ThriftyLiving.

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