I am doing some needle felting workshops this coming weekend, so I spent some time making sure that the templates and patterns were ready. I am doing a Movember moustache pin workshop at Eternal Maker and it has been great fun making lots of different types of moustaches!
Needle felting is one of the most relaxing ways to create textile art, there is no sewing you simply push one fibre onto another with a barbed needle. I decided that I wanted to show just how flexible this medium is, so simply played with the fibres until I made this picture. Its like painting with fibre, and so joyous!
I have been doing a little ‘life laundry’ this weekend, it must be in preparation for winter. I spent a happy day clearing out the larder, fridge and freezer. Making lists of what I have and making it easier to find things! It is surprisingly satisfying – giving rise to a domestic superwoman!
I felt in need of some pretty flowers to compensate for the darkening nights, I bought some lovely cyclamen and house plants, a very pretty african violet and some poor little things being given away because they needed some loving!
While I was there I bought myself a couple of plant sprayers. (you know my love of vinegar) a plant spray bottle is far more effective way to use vinegar effectively. However they were a little boring so I spent a rather blissful half hour creating my own little label using sharpies! I do love the idea that it is a little bottle of magic! Once started though I had to stop myself from brightening up everything I can get my hands on!
My experience with bicarbonate of soda/vinegar has been so successful that I wondered if there are other areas that could benefit from old fashioned methods rather than expensive branded ones.
The washing powder market is huge, the variation enormous, liquid, powder, tablets, sachets that dissolve in the drum, together with washing machine maintenance and anti bacterials that have created fears that never existed a few years ago.
I am growing sceptic by the day, we are bombarded with so much information that seemingly offers solutions and opportunities, but in reality what they are after is our hard earned cash. This market is very competitive because it reaps huge rewards, there is a huge mark up.
So with that in mind I thought I would give laundry consumables some experimentation. I was advised by the website, DIY Natural, (great source of information!) …. to grate an ordinary bar of soap, mix it with some soda and use it as a washing soda.
While I am on the subject of washing soda, this is an excellent cleaner for your machine, you can purchase a big box for around a pound but Calgon, (which I strongly suspect is simply a branded variety) costs lots more than that.
The other beauty of washing soda, is that it reduces the amount of detergent required to wash your clothes, a double saving! Especially if you live in a chalky area as I do in Sussex. Imagine money to buy more crafting books!
Back to the experiment…
The soap powder did its job, although my towel was a bit stained it did not really come out in the wash so I deemed my usual powder worth the cost. I use powder because it is the cheapest way to buy it, and it only takes a few moments in a cup of water to dissolve it before putting it into the washing machine dispenser.
As for the conditioner… the replacement fabric conditioner was vinegar with a little essential oils. oh my, how soft everything was! My towel was very soft, disappointingly the essential oils had virtually disappeared, but I am converted. The vinegar not just softens clothes but also cuts the excess soap from the machine another double bonus! As that extends the life of your washing machine.
Now as to the problem of the build up of bacteria, how inventive these manufacturers are! They have been telling us to turn down the temperature on our washing machines, and I agree it is better for the environment if we use less energy, but it does mean that bacteria can actually thrive in the nice warm, wet environment. It means that your machine will begin to smell, and worse your clean clothes will too! even after washing!
So they come up with a solution to a problem that they created – add more expensive chemicals! NO!
It’s simply a case of following in the wise footsteps of generations of women before us, use high temperatures to kill bacteria. Bacteria thrive in temperatures from 5 – 65 degrees, if you are washing all your clothes at around 40 degrees, then you are creating a wonderful environment for them to thrive.
Isn’t a boil wash environmentally unfriendly? Not really, you don’t have to boil wash everything, but it’s a good idea to use high temperatures for babies, older people and especially when you have been ill. I usually boil wash my bedding once a week, including the mattress protector. That is enough to kill off the residing bacteria in my machine without resorting to harmful chemicals that remain in the clothing and is absorbed through the skin when I wear them. Using more chemicals to kill off bacteria is not environmentally friendly at all. Be aware that products sold for home use is not as restricted as commercial products and can be quite harmful.
Did I also mention that vinegar has natural antibacterial qualities? Also, a litre costs just over a pound, more money for fabric!
So lets have a drum roll for old fashioned wisdom and the humble vinegar.
I am not a Bree Van-de-Kamp, the Desperate Housewife with the perfect home, but there are times when I realise that I need to do something about the layers of dust and the kitchen floor appears to be changing colour!
Housework is something that I seem to avoid – yet oddly enough when I spend time cleaning I actually find I enjoy it. (yes you did read that correctly, the word enjoy and housework in the same sentence!)
I have fallen in love with sparkly, and it is very easy to achieve, takes no elbow grease and is not hazardous to health. It is a simple mix of vinegar and bicarbonate of soda.
This is not my kitchen but one that is set up in the grounds of the Weald and Down Museum in nearby West Dean, I thought it illustrates to me just how much simpler and easier housework has become. Hot water at the turn of a tap – washing machines and electric kettles, it has never been an easier time to be a housewife. I believe that simple household products that have seen years of use. This little kitchen set up goes back to early in the 1900s.
Looking at the simple ingredients that were at the disposal of the housewife in her struggle to keep the house free from infection – it made me ponder just how far we have come to rely on the ‘selling power of science’ We trust the cleaning products that abound on the supermarket shelf are safe and effective to use.These companies are in business to make money, they use enough science to convince us that their product will be the best, and easiest to use.
There are no restrictions on cleaning products for the home it may surprise you they are able to sell these above what would be considered a health risk if it were sold commercially. There have been links with air fresheners and cancer risks, and I believe that if our bodies cough to expel something that has been sprayed into an aerosol into our smallest room then it is pretty likely the substance we are ingesting might not be in good health.
Its easy to get everything sparkly, just spray with vinegar and sprinkle over bicarbonate! You can scrub a little, then wash down with water. Buff and sit back and admire a lovely shine! It lasts for a few days too. No coughing, no nasty chemicals, gentle on the purse too!