Clean Green, Green Clean!

Early Cleaning

The Roman Baths at Bath in England fed by a thermal Spring.
The Roman Baths at Bath in England fed by a thermal Spring.
A Row of Terrace Houses with Doorsteps in need of Cleaning.
A Row of Terrace Houses with Doorsteps in need of Cleaning.
Ladies Cleaning Windows the Old Fashioned Way......All Photos courtesy Flickr.
Ladies Cleaning Windows the Old Fashioned Way......All Photos courtesy Flickr.

Cleaning through the Ages

Keeping things clean has been important to humans throughout the ages. The Romans were obsessed with it and built amazing Bath houses where ever they conquered. Any one who has visited the town of Bath in England will be well aware of the beauty and intricacies of these facilities.

In my garden I grow an interesting plant called Soap wort. It's Latin name is Saponaria Officinalis which gave the French their word for soap, Savon. I grow the plant for the hypnotic evening scent which attracts the spectacular Hawk moth. Hawk moths love the nectar and look like nocturnal Hummingbirds, sometimes five or six at a time visit the fragrant flowers. This amazing plant has been used as a soap and herbal remedy since the time of the ancient Greeks. The whole plant is boiled in water to produce a mucilaginous solution. It is strained and used to wash delicate silk and woolen materials to this day. Washing soda helped with the weekly wash and whites were steeped with a bluebag which slightly dyed the water blue to enhance the whiteness. Since writing this article the Soapworts plant has multiplied so much that I will have enough to experiment with making my own cleaning solution. I will report back with the results.

Visiting my Grandma when I was a little girl took us down a street in Cardiff in Wales lined with bijoux residences. Each home has a doorstep that gleamed as white as snow. The ladies of the household could be seen every morning on their knees rubbing Hearthstone on their door steps until they gleamed like snow.A veritable chorus of wiggling ample hips gyrated as we walked past. Inside their homes the stoves and grates softly gleamed black with a Carbon Black polish called Zebo, it gave the cast iron a mellow shine. If the front steps weren't being hearthstoned, the windows were being washed with water with a dash of vinegar and polished with scrumpled newspaper til they shone and twinkled in the sunshine.

My physics teacher at school was a learned Scotsman, newly retired from Farnborough Aeronautical College, Dr, Harris. Dr Harris's skin was soft and unblemished with hardly a line to mar its appearance. One day i had the temerity to ask him how he kept his skin so soft and un lined. His answer surprised me. He said he only ever washed his face with oatmeal and warm water. I was an instant convert.

My mother made her own furniture polish with a mixture of beeswax and some drops of lavender oil so that the furniture boasted a glow of lovingly applied wax and gleamed in a haze of lavender scent.. Stains were removed by rubbing with half walnut and some fine ash from the hearth.

On the Greek Island of Ithaca the ladies of the town can be seen occasionally with vats of bubbling soap being stirred over driftwood fires on the beach. The smell is pretty bad but the finished product is very nice soap. Animal fat is boiled up with lye until the fat is saponified.

All these cleaning methods have one thing in common. Nothing harsh or expensive was used in the cleaning process. The raw materials for the cleaning products were readily available. The environment was left unharmed. Nowadays many companies are producing Green cleaning solutions to the good of all concerned. Many modern cleaning products are known to be carcinogenic. Maybe you won't feel like making soap over a drift wood fire on the beach when good green products are available.

It is for every ones benefit to think Green when you Clean.



Washday

Fresh Clean Washing hanging out to dry in the fresh Air.
Fresh Clean Washing hanging out to dry in the fresh Air.
Ingredients for a good Wash, Victorian Style.
Ingredients for a good Wash, Victorian Style.
Wash Day of Old.
Wash Day of Old.

Cleaning Agents

Vinegar Useful for squeaky clean windows, A dash of vinegar stops smearing.

Washing Soda, Softens water to make washing easier.

Bicarbonate of Soda, Baking Soda useful as a cleaning agent for greasy surfaces

Bees Wax plus  Lavender Oil  for Furniture

Lamp black ,   Carbon  for cast iron stoves

Tea tree Oil, Lemon oil and Cinnamon Oil natural antiseptics.

Beautiful Soapwort

Making sure it's Green

More by this Author


Comments 78 comments

EnLydia Listener 6 years ago

nice...I was hesitant to read an article on cleaning...but I enjoyed this one.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thanks EnLydia, glad you enjoyed it and you took the time to comment.


Vladimir Uhri profile image

Vladimir Uhri 6 years ago from HubPages, FB

Gypsy Willow, thank you for sharing with us.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Great information and thank you for sharing.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thanks Vladimir, useful tips are always worth sharing


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Hi Hello hello, thanks for dropping by.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

Now I know what to do whenever I want to clean gree. Call you to do it for me? :-)


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Ha ha ha De Greek!


Money Glitch profile image

Money Glitch 6 years ago from Texas

Hhhhhmmmm, I like the oatmeal and water idea for cleansing your face it really makes sense. I've never been able to acquire a taste for oatmeal, however, I think I will buy some and do at least a once a week facial. Thanks for sharing your insight on cleaning green. :)


Lee B profile image

Lee B 6 years ago from New Mexico

I use a lot of vinegar for cleaning now and haven't noticed any difference from when I used nasty chemical sprays. Also Mrs. Meyers products are nice--but pricey. I just love the basil scent.

Interesting hub! You managed to make one of my least favorite subjects fun to read about.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Hi Money Glitch Thanks for coming by. The oatmeal does work but I eat more of it than I use to wash!


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

The only problem with using vinegar is that I crave fish and chips when I clean! Thanks for the kind comment.


FGual profile image

FGual 6 years ago from USA

Interesting subject that we take for granted. In a city it's rare to see anyone hanging clothes out to dry in the fresh air. Recently someone got in trouble for doing it in some condominium. It definitely saves energy and money.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Hi FGual, I don't even posses a drier. Why use expensive gas or electricity to dry clothes when it is nicer to dry them in the fresh air. Thanks for the comment


AuriFin profile image

AuriFin 6 years ago

very interesting hub on trying to live clean and harming less our environment, Gypsy Willow :) I was just thinking that we have so busy life nowadays, that we don't have time to remember things we knew when we were kids - thanks for reminding me the soda and vinegar use, my grandma was fond on using those (and her windows washed with water with some vinegar were always shiny clean :)).


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 6 years ago from Philippines

What an informative and interesting hub! The cleaning tips you shared are so practical and easy to use.

Thanks very much for sharing Gypsy!


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thanks for the visit Aurifin. Glad you enjoyed the trip back in time.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Glad you liked the tips Jill, we have lots to learn from our grandparents. Their homes were always clean and shiny without harsh chemicals. Thanks for stopping by.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago

You are a wealth of information and never cease to amaze me!

Thanks for this!


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Hey Kaie, thanks for the kind comment. I have been blessed with a good memory. glad you enjoyed it.


Dim Flaxenwick profile image

Dim Flaxenwick 6 years ago from Great Britain

Great hub, thank you. I love the idea of your mums' homemade furniture polish. Take care x


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thanks Dim, whenever I smell lavender I think of home.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

Nice hub! I might try your physics teacher's oatmeal facial cleanser some time. This hub also reminds me of a funny story about my grandma. My mom bought a washing machine for her, but she continued to wash her clothes by hand. She thought she could do a better job than the machine, which actually might be true. Everything in my grandma's house was sparkling clean! :)


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

It sure worked for him, he had a beautiful complexion. Love that your grandma didn't trust the washing machine. My mother had a very early dishwasher which took all the flowers off her best china tea set! Thanks for the visit.


MMMoney profile image

MMMoney 6 years ago from Where U Can Make More Money

very informative hub thanks


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thanks for dropping by MMMoney. Glad you found it useful.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Excellent advice! Thank you!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

Well done! I agree with you wholeheartedly.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Hi Micky, always nice to see you.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thank you James, glad we are in agreement. Thanks for the nice comment


BJBenson profile image

BJBenson 6 years ago from USA

My favorite cleaner right now is my steamer. nice hub.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Good Point BJ, wish I had one! True green cleaning. Thanks for pointing that out and coming by.


Rebecca E. profile image

Rebecca E. 6 years ago from Canada

this is awesome, good job, and yes I think there is more we can do to be "green" and all we need to do is look to teh past...


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thanks for your comment Rebecca. Cleaning has been with us for ever and our forefathers coped with it well.


dealrocker profile image

dealrocker 6 years ago from California

Nice hub. Again, the pictures are amazing.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thanks dealrocker, I enjoyed writing this hub.


collmj94 profile image

collmj94 6 years ago from Long Island, New York

another great hub.... u are a goddess


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thanks for your kind comment colimj94. You are too kind! Why did you take down your hub on hearing loss?


dealrocker profile image

dealrocker 6 years ago from California

Hi Gypsy Willow! I want to see more hubs from you. So, when are you publishing the next one? I am waiting......


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Bit busy at the moment so taking a sabatical, but I'll be back. Thanks for the kind comment.


RunAbstract profile image

RunAbstract 6 years ago from USA

This is a very nice article. Thanks!


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thanks RunAbstract, glad you enjoyed it!


Linda Tadlock profile image

Linda Tadlock 6 years ago from Atlanta

Great article! Love the recipe for furniture wax, and thanks for all of the great info!


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thank you for dropping by Linda. Glad you enjoyed the visit to the past. Their ways are still relevant today.


Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

You paint a pretty picture here Gypsy what with the driftwood fire and all. I've always wondered, where do people (especially those not near large markets) find lye for their soap?

Cheers!

Ben


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Good question Ben. Wikihow has a good article on it http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Lye It appears that hard wood ash is the key ingredient. Thanks for coming by and asking the question.


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 5 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

A Sparkling Hub,Gypsy Willow.;)


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 5 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thanks Ma, squeaky clean!


MMMoney profile image

MMMoney 5 years ago from Where U Can Make More Money

Great information and thank you for sharing


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 5 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thanks for popping by MMMoney. Glad you found it useful.


Kamran100 profile image

Kamran100 5 years ago

great informative hub.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 5 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thanks Kamran!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, great info! maybe we should all go back to the time when the simple things were so much better to use than today, cheers nell


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 5 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

I do agree Nell, it's all getting too much sometimes! Thanks for the visit


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

This is brilliant from the very beginning.I have had a 'catch up day' today and I have come accross some great gems like this one.

I really like your natural style of writing and here's to many more to share.

Take care

Eiddwen.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 5 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thanks for another kind comment Eiddwen! Glad you enjoyed the visit.


A Little TRUTH profile image

A Little TRUTH 5 years ago

Very interesting! And that moth does look like a hummingbird. I might have to get some soap wort when I have a garden again.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 5 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

The moths are quite amazing and it is well worth growing Soap wort for that very reason. It is a little invasive but I love it and its mild alluring scent in the evenings. Thanks for the comment


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

Thanks for including some practical suggestions for cleaning green. I've often used vinegar and crumpled newspapers to clean glass, and I think it cleans better than commercial window cleaners, too. Now, I wonder if I can grow soapwort. It looks like a beautiful plant, and I love anything that will attract hummingbirds and butterflies.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

What a great article about natural and green cleaning substances! Crumpled newspaper and vinegar water works wonders for glass and window cleaning. When I grew up my mother always hung her wash out to dry until later years. Did not even have a dryer in those early days. Ah...the glorious scent! No dryer sheet can compare!


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 4 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Well I still don't have a dryer and I don't miss one! Glad you like my hub! Thanks for the visit.


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia

up, useful, and interesting. I find it interesting how they use to clean back in the past. I always love a good history lesson per say. I am glad I found you on here Gypsy Willow. You are a fascinating woman. Best wishes and have a good Sunday.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 4 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thanks thelyricwriter. Glad I found you too, your hubs are great and I'm sitting here shuffling through my small change! Cheers!


bearclawmedia profile image

bearclawmedia 4 years ago from Mining Planet Earth

What a great hub , don't know how I missed this one. My wife has moved us to raw food eating recently and we are scrubbing out our insides at present, but clean is the word!


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 4 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Glad you came by eventually! The chemicals we are exposed to these days are scary. Keep it simple, keep it green I my motto


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 4 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thanks for reading cookingrrcipes I hope it helps with your chores!


2patricias profile image

2patricias 4 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

This is an interesting hub. I spend a fortune on cleaning products, and I think natural methods might be just as good, as well as better for the environment.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 4 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Hi 2patricias, glad you had time to read my hub. There is something very satisfying about using old fashioned methods. It is good to save money and help the environment too.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

Hi, love all the memories Gypsy, my mum used to scrub the front step too, isn't it funny how back then it was the thing to do? can you imagine anybody doing it these days? Wow! funny to think. fascinating to see how the french got their word for soap too, and yes I love all the natural stuff to clean, its always worked in the past so why not now instead of all the expensive and dangerous stuff? great hub and ideas, nell


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 3 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thanks Nell. Yes it's all a thing of the past. I miss so many of these simple things, don't you? Thanks for the kind comment.


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 3 years ago from California

Thanks for the tips on living green. By the way, I love that photo of the Roman bath. Verdant, isn't it? Later!


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 3 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Yes it's beautiful but beware drinking the water, it tasted foul to me ! Thanks for the comment. Hope you get to visit one day.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Well this hub certainly awoke the masses. :)

I've heard of soapwort but never grown it. Very interesting! By the way, we dry our clothes on a clothes line all summer long. Love the smell. :)


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 3 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Hi Billy thanks for the comment. If you grow Soapworts, watch out. I keep looking for it on the invasive species list but haven't seen it yet. We all love watching the hummingbird moths on the fragrant flowers in late evening. Glad you line dry your clothes. It is so dry here in the Sierras I can do it all year. Enjoy your day, Raye


Benjamin Chege 2 years ago

Hi Gypsy Willow. I enjoyed the hub, great picture, great photos, great content. Thanks for sharing. Voted up, awesome, beautiful and interesting.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 2 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thanks for your kind comment Benjamin. Glad you enjoyed it. I enjoyed writing it. Old fashioned methods are often best.


JPSO138 profile image

JPSO138 2 years ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

Very informative indeed and this is very practical. There as so many cleaning agents out there but mostly with harsh chemicals that is not good for the environment


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 2 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thank you for commenting JPSO138. So nice to clean in a gentle way. I appreciate your visit and hope you and your family are safe.

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