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How to make easy, natural home products

‘Granny skills’ advocate Rebecca Sullivan shares some natural cleaning and wellbeing products you can make at home.

Do you roll your eyes and tune out when your parents or grandparents go on about how things were better ‘back in the day’? Rebecca Sullivan doesn’t. She sits up, leans in and listens.

The writer, eco-agronomist and entrepreneur has been taking inspiration from her grandmother and grandmother’s generation for a long time.

Her first book, Like Grandma Used to Make, shared many ‘granny skills’ that have been mostly lost over time, and her new book, The Art of the Natural Home, picks up where it left off.

The Art of the Natural Home is perfect for those interested in natural products, sustainability, wellbeing and mindfulness. More than a guide to saving money and reducing your carbon footprint, it’s about wellbeing in general, and taking the time to create your own homemade products, from facemasks to floor polish, from medicinal honey to massage oil.

We asked Rebecca for some tips on how to live a simpler, cheaper, and more wholesome life.

For time-poor people, making DIY home products may seem daunting. How easy is it to get started?

Honestly, I’m as time poor as it gets. You should have seen my shower last week! The grime had built up to an embarrassing level. But after three minutes of scrubbing with a simple mixture of vinegar and water, I can have a guilt free shower again.

I know making your own cleaning products can seem like an ominous task, but when you see how easy it can be and how much money you save, you’ll no longer find it a bore.

What would you suggest as a first step for creating a natural home?

Definitely my homemade oven cleaner. I’m sure you’ve smelt commercially bought solutions, and will agree they smell like poison.

My natural oven cleaner, stovetop spray and citrus all round cleaner will make your kitchen shine from top to bottom, and work wonders in the bathroom as well.

As we come into cold and flu season, what’s your go-to remedy for the sniffles?

My garlic and lemon tonic is a gift from nature. I would suggest being proactive here though. Don’t wait until the sickness has taken hold – start as soon as you feel a sniff, or make it part of your daily cold weather routine.

I also suggest getting some gubinge (Kakadu plum) powder. It’s Indigenous to Australia, and the highest source of vitamin C on the planet. I use it in smoothies and juice, and mix it with water and take a shot when I’m feeling run down.

You shouldn’t take this one everyday, however, as it’s very strong, just during the season and when you’re not at your best. It also makes an amazing face mask mixed with a little water or a teaspoon of yoghurt.

These recipes are extracts from The Art of the Natural Home by Rebecca Sullivan, published by Kyle Books, RRP $39.99

Oven cleaner

This oven cleaner is quick and easy to whip up, and with a bit of muscle power and patience and you’ll have a chemical-free, clean oven.

Ingredients

Nothing beats using your own fresh produce or materials around the house.
If you’re missing a thing or two, tick the items you need to add to your shopping list.

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What to do

  • 1. Place the bicarbonate of soda in a small bowl and add a little water at a time until it forms a paste.

  • 2. Wearing rubber gloves, take a cloth and rub the paste over the entire surface of your oven. Depending on the size of your oven, you may need to make a little more.

  • 3. Leave for 12 hours to work its magic.

  • 4. After that time, wipe all surfaces with kitchen paper and discard.

  • 5. Put the vinegar in a spray bottle and spritz all surfaces.

  • 6. Use a cloth and some warm water to continue to remove the residue.

  • 7. Give all surfaces a final wipe down with clean warm water and leave to dry.

  • Stovetop spray

    Giving your stove a wipe down with this spray every time you use it to avoid build-up of grease and grime. I’ve given ratios rather than quantities so you can make as much as you need.

    Ingredients

    Nothing beats using your own fresh produce or materials around the house.
    If you’re missing a thing or two, tick the items you need to add to your shopping list.

    Who’s doing the shopping?

    Send the shopping list straight to their inbox.

    What to do

  • 1. Put everything into a spray bottle and shake well before use.

  • 2. Spray the surface and wipe with a clean, damp cloth. This works best made fresh.

  • Garlic and lemon tonic

    This tonic is jam-packed full of goodness! Take a daily shot during flu season or when you are feeling run down. This will make just over 300 ml.

    Ingredients

    Nothing beats using your own fresh produce or materials around the house.
    If you’re missing a thing or two, tick the items you need to add to your shopping list.

    Who’s doing the shopping?

    Send the shopping list straight to their inbox.

    What to do

  • 1. Put the whole lemons, peel and all, with the garlic in a blender and process until smooth.

  • 2. Add to a medium-sized saucepan with the water and bring to the boil.

  • 3. As soon as it’s boiling, remove from the heat and once cool, strain into a sterilised bottle. Keep refrigerated and it will last up to a year.

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