Clean Green, Green Clean!
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.
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.