Switching to natural alternatives – is it worth it?

I think I have a bit of a reputation amongst my extended family as being somewhat, shall we say, ‘alternative’. Whenever someone has an minor ailment I will invariably suggest either coconut oil, a selection of essential oils, or a herbal tea as a possible remedy. And don’t get me started on household cleaning! For virtually every household application I have found you can’t beat my two best buddies –  vinegar and bi-carb soda. For added good measure throw in some lemon oil for stain removal, clove oil to kill mould, lemongrass oil to kill germs… Ok, I said I have a slight reputation!

Seriously though, I have been delighted to discover the many and varied uses of vinegar and baking soda, and essential oils for both my home and health. I know there are a myriad of other blog sites out there spruiking the benefits of these ‘secret weapons’, and you may be wondering if it really is worth it, or just a load of quackery and nonsense?

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Firstly, vinegar and baking soda (bi-carb soda) are not new. Our grandmothers, great grandmothers, and their ancestors before them were using these for cleaning, in conjunction with traditional soap. Synthetic and chemical cleaning products were first developed for home use in 1916, when the first world war caused a shortage of oils and fats. Up till this point all soaps and cleaners had been formulated from household fats and oils1. This led to the creation of the first synthetic detergent, and from there the great chemical landslide into our homes began. In fact, next year we celebrate 100 years of chemical detergents! Cause for a party, surely?


These are my basic cleaning supplies. You’ll see I don’t have any lavender oil shown. I recently ran out and need to order some more! I also use lots of other oils for cleaning in my home.

Personally, I would rather use vinegar and bi-carb any day rather than buying a multitude of chemical-laden, fancy

packaged cleaners. It’s cheaper, and a lot less toxic for my sensitive skin and beautiful baby girl!

Vinegar and bi-carb are the perfect duo, being an acid and a base. They counteract each other, and create a lovely foamy, fizzing power punch for cleaning. I have used them to successfully clean glass, carpet stains, tea and coffee stains in mugs, and for unclogging drains, amongst many other things.

~ Essential Oils

I use essential oils in my home for a number of different applications. I must confess that I am only just learning the basics of their use, but what I have discovered so far has really impressed me.

Essential oils seem quite expensive when you have to invest in several all at once. Depending on where you source your oils, they can be rather overpriced! However, when you consider that any time you use that oil you are only using a few drops, the price is then spread out over a much longer period of time.

My favourite oils are Eucalyptus, Lavender, Tea tree, Lemon, Lemongrass, Peppermint, and Rose Geranium.

I use a number of other oils, but if I had to pick just three I would choose lavender, tea tree, and eucalyptus. Why these three?

Is it simple? Is it frugal?

Ok, these are two very important questions, especially since I’m trying to run our household on a budget. Every dollar we can save will be going towards a future home of our own.

If I go down to the store and buy a kilo of bi-carb, and 2 litres of white vinegar, it will set me back around $5.60 AUD. That quantity would probably last me around 3-6 months.

Eucalyptus Oil, Lavender and Tea Tree oil will cost around $32 AUD for a years supply, so my initial costs would be approximately only $38.

If I went down to the store and bought all the products I would need to replace just 5 ingredients with, my initial purchase of all 15 items would be somewhere around $72.44. My annual total would be significantly higher. You can see how I worked out these costs here.

Without going into any more detail I think you can clearly see that it is both simple, and affordable to ditch many of the synthetic cleaners in our homes and switch to just a handful of cheaper alternatives. Not only will your house smell fresher, you won’t have to worry about the fumes you and your family are breathing, or stress about chemical residue harming their skin! With a crawling bub in my home, this is a big consideration! I no longer need to worry if she starts taste-testing surfaces when I’m not looking 😉

What about you? Have you switched to natural cleaning aids? What have you found that works? Leave a comment and share your favourite tips and tricks!


1. Soaps & Detergent: History (1900s to Now).

Cheeky Duck courtesy of photobucket.com
Party Granny photo credit: AlexDesigner / Foter / CC BY-ND

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