These everyday ingredients can replace commercial household products and save you money.
Have you ever wondered what really goes into a bottle of dishwashing soap? When you’re at the supermarket, it may be easy to just grab what you need by rote. But maybe it’s time to re-evaluate and live with more consciousness and smarter, healthier choices.
Like it or not, most commercial products consist of a host of chemicals we can’t even pronounce. And we use them every day — on ourselves, our family, and on the kids. In the long run, these chemicals can take a toll on your health. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and new habits take time to cultivate. But one step in the right direction is one step closer to living a better life. So why not start with what you have — in your kitchen?
There are five simple and natural ingredients you already possess that can effectively replace a few chemical-laden products around the home. Without further ado, may we present you a few easy-to-follow recipes that may just prove to be a life-and money-saver. Think of all the future doctor’s fees you won’t be shelling out.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade — and detergent. Lemons are a great fruit to always have in the house. We use it for everything from cooking to cleaning. They cost about S$4.15 (on Redmart) for half a dozen. For the purpose of comparison, a bottle of Mama Lemon costs you S$2.80 — and smooth hands.
How can you use lemons to stretch your dollar:
As a scrub: Lemon peels work marvellously at scrubbing your ovens, stove tops, chopping blocks and sinks to restore sheen.
As an all-purpose cleaner: Save the lemon peels, put them in a jar and mix with some white vinegar. After two weeks, you’ll have a nice homemade all-purpose cleaner.
As ant repellent: Put a few drops of lemon juice around dustbins, windowsills, nooks and crannies in the kitchen or wherever might be a hot spot for ant parties. For bigger spaces, you could add some lemon peel.
As a deodoriser: Soak a cotton ball in some lemon juice, put them on a dish and place them around funky smelling areas — works well for fridges and dustbins.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
There are many different kinds of vinegar — apple cider, white, balsamic, and the list goes on. You will find at least one version of it in your kitchen pantry. We particularly favour apple cider vinegar for its versatility and health benefits. It costs S$8.15 a bottle from Redmart, but it’s well worth the money for being such a multitasker.
What to use ACV for:
Facial toner: Mix one part ACV and one part water, smooth over skin, and leave it on for about 10 minutes before rinsing. As with all skincare, do a patch test first.
Stomach soother: Mix two teaspoons of ACV with one tablespoon of fresh ginger and lemon water.
Detoxifying bath: Add half a cup of ACV to a warm bath to enjoy. You may add Epsom salts or your favourite essential oils for added relaxation.
Hair rinse: Combine one tablespoon of ACV with one full cup of water (more if you’d rather not emerge from the bathroom smelling like a walking salad), slowly pour mixture over your hair, leave it for five to 10 seconds, then rinse with cold water. This will leave your hair shiny, smooth and tangle-free.
Baking soda is one of the most affordable staples that every Singaporean household should have. For only S$5 for a value-sized 1.8kg box (from FairPrice), it’s really the most inexpensive little helper we can think of.
How you can use it:
Laundry deodoriser: To get rid of stubborn stench in your clothes, sprinkle half a cup to your laundry load and wash as per normal. The baking soda neutralises odours. If you like your clothes slightly scented, you may add five to seven drops of your favourite essential oil to the baking soda.
Scented jars: Fill half a jar with baking soda, add 10 to 15 drops of your favourite essential oils, mix well and there you have it — a natural scent instead of sprays and perfumes for bedrooms and bathrooms. Add a tea light candle for a nice glow in the evening.
Insect-bite relief: Make a paste with water and baking soda, and apply to the affected areas.
Household cleanser: Sprinkle baking soda on tubs, sinks, dishes, tiles, toilet bowls and scrub away with some water, sponge or a damp cloth.
If you cook, you’ll have at least one bottle of olive oil at home. If you don’t, you will have it to dress your salads and as a dip. Everyone has it. But not everyone gets that some olive oils are better than others. Many out there may not be the real deal. So, be sure look out for dark bottle or tins, with “extra virgin” on the label, harvest date, USDA seal and an estate name on the label. A good 250ml bottle costs S$10.90 (from FairPrice). Invest in a good bottle, and what you get out of it is far more than good pasta.
What you can use olive oil for:
Wood-furniture polish: Mix two parts olive oil and one part lemon in glass bottle, shake well and spray a thin layer on your wooden furniture, wipe with a clean terry cloth. If you are in a hurry, simply add some plain olive oil to a clean kitchen towel and wipe.
Shaving cream: Smooth the oil over your face or skin and shave away. Your skin will love the moisturising benefits of this oil. Bin those commercial shaving creams and shave a few dollars off your toiletries expenses.
Greasy-hand cleanser: Mix and rub one teaspoon of oil and one teaspoon of salt or sugar into your palms or other affected areas, and wash. It lifts off any stubborn grease or paint on your hands.
Make up remover: Put a few drops of olive oil on a cotton pad and wipe away. It leaves your skin very moisturised so if you prefer, you may wash your face after.
The next time you do your grocery shopping, you might consider picking up some sea salt — which goes through minimal processing, and therefore retains trace levels of minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium and other nutrients — instead of white table salt. A 500g bag of sea salt costs about S$2.95 (from FairPrice).
What you can use it for:
Sore throat relief: Dissolve half a tablespoon of sea salt with a glass of lukewarm water and gargle for 10 to 30 seconds and spit it out. Repeat three times. This could easily replace commercial mouth wash as it helps maintain hygiene and kills harmful bacteria that causes bad breath. Instead of gargling, swish the solution around your mouth, spit and rinse.
Watermark remover: To remove watermarks left on wooden surfaces (someone always forgets the coaster!), make a paste of one teaspoon of sea salt and a few drops of water, rub gently on the water stain with a soft cloth or sponge until it disappears.
Shoe deodoriser: Stinky shoes no more! Sprinkle a little salt in your shoes and leave to air dry for a few hours or a day before shaking them out.
Pots and pans cleaner: Get your stainless-steel pots and pans clean by mixing two tablespoons of salt with some lemon juice.
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By Alexa Fang
Alexa is a pop-culture vulture. She lives to read, write and travel, and decided long ago that life is stranger than fiction. When she's having croissant, she thinks in French. "31 Rue Cambon" is her favourite address, and she believes that money one enjoyed spending is never money wasted.