What Lies Within

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Today I cleaned the vanity unit in our bathroom.  It is generally a quick wipe over the mirror with home-made window cleaner then the sink and surrounds with a cream cleanser – also home-made.  The recipe for the window cleaner is simply 400ml water, 100ml vinegar and a few drops of dishwashing liquid mixed in a spray bottle.  The recipe for the cream cleanser is here.

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Nowhere are my minimalist tendencies more evident than in the bathroom.  All that is on the bench is a toothbrush holder (repurposed vase with a hole drilled in the bottom) and a soap dish with a small cake of hand soap.  Keeping the bench clear makes it easy to clean.

However, today I cleaned the cupboards and all of the drawers so the first task was to remove everything.  This is the contents of my vanity unit laid bare.

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I started with the cupboard as that was relatively easy.  The large box on the right hand side contains all medications and first aid supplies.  I had cleaned and sorted this a few weeks ago, including removing any expired medications which I returned to the chemist for disposal.

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Then it was on to the drawers.  The top two have 4 clear plastic containers which I use to divide and contain the contents.  I bought them about 10 years ago from Howard’s Storage World.  After washing and drying the containers, I reviewed and replaced the contents.  GMan uses one drawer and I have the other.

This is mine.

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There are no photos of the other drawers but the third one has a bag of essentials, including prescription medications and the relevant paperwork.  This is specifically to grab and add to our evacuation kit if the need should ever arise.  In order for the medication not to expire, I constantly use and replace these medications on a weekly basis.

The bottom drawer has an assortment of extra stock such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, and shower caps as well as my hairdryer.

I threw out a few things but this was predominately a cleaning exercise.  I found various sample-sized items as well as some almost empty bottles that simply need to be used up.  I put everything in the container below and will leave it out on the bench to remind us to use them.

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Chemical-Free Cleaning

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As promised here is a recipe for one of the homemade cleaning products that I use.  I found the recipe on the internet some months ago and have adapted the quantities to suit my needs.

It is simple to make.  You need only basic utensils.

Only 3 ingredients.

Cream Cleanser

1&1/2 cups bicarb soda
110ml dishwashing liquid
30ml eucalyptus oil

Mix all ingredients together to form a ‘Gumption-style’ paste.

Store in container.  I use glass because the original instructions cast some doubt over the compatibility with some plastics.

Use to clean sinks, baths and basins by rubbing a paste over the surface and rinse clean with fresh water.  You can spray with vinegar for added effect.  As always, test surface to ensure it is OK to use.

I use this paste and a soft cloth to clean my Neoflam frying pan.

You should never need to buy Gumption, Jif, Ajax or similar ever again.

The eucalyptus oil gives the added bonus of relieving any head cold symptoms while you do the housework!

I will have another recipe tomorrow but in the meantime feel free to share any chemical-free/homemade cleaning tips.

The Simple Stuff

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Sometimes we can get overwhelmed by concepts, goals and methods which cause us to lose sight of our original intention.  This can also be true when the very thing we are seeking is simplicity.

So it is time to take a step back, re-evaluate and take care of the really basic things that can make a difference.

You do not need a cupboard full of the latest fancy cleaning products with a different one for every job.  I have cleaned the majority of my bathroom, kitchen and laundry for a number of years using nothing more than bicarb and vinegar.  The only inconvenience is the method of applying the products and it can be a bit messy to use.

I found this recipe a couple of days ago for a home-made ‘cream cleanser’ based on bicarb.

1 cup bicarb soda
4 tablespoons dishwashing liquid
1 tablespoon eucalyptus oil

Mix all ingredients together to form a ‘Gumption-style’ paste.

Use to clean sinks, baths and basins by rubbing a paste over the surface and rinse clean with fresh water.  You can spray with vinegar for added effect.  As always, test surface to ensure it is OK to use.

I made this yesterday and have stored it in a glass jar as the original recipe cast doubt on whether the eucalyptus oil would react with plastic.

I have used this to clean my bathroom basin today which is now sparkling.  I also tried it to see if it would remove the permanent marker that I had used to label some bulk food buckets.  It was perfect and left the bucket as new so that I was able to re-label it.

I will definitely be using this paste in future rather than a container of bicarb and bottle of vinegar.

On another note, we went shopping today to stock up on bulk dry goods at Simply Good.  It is almost 5 months since we last went there so my plan to stock up has certainly worked.  I spent just over $200 and while that seems a lot, I plan to make this last for 6 months.  I buy all of our flour, bread flour, baking goods, dried fruit and nuts, spices, cereal and beans there.

We also called in to the Co-op in Maleny and one of the things I planned to buy was shampoo.  I have bought it from the bulk containers there, however, the brand I bought is no longer available so I was left with a dilemma.  My choices were from a 1 litre container (hardly bulk), no SLS and Fairtrade but imported from USA or I could buy a 1 litre bottle of organic, SLS free shampoo made in Australia but meant that I would be acquiring a new 1 litre bottle on a regular basis.  I also bought another bottle of the body wash that we use and noticed that it actually said “Hair and Body Wash”.  We can buy this in 2 litre containers so less packaging and I can now have 1 less bottle in my bathroom and we will use the same liquid to wash ourselves from top to toe.

What tips do you have to simplify things and get back to basics?