Question: What’s in the box?

Miss Thrifty7 June 21, 2011

summer naturals

Answer: my latest delivery from Summer Naturals! It seems to follow on neatly from this week’s cleaning theme…

summer naturals box

I’ve been a Summer Naturals customer for more than three years now. The company sells bulk quantities of natural (and frugal) cleaning products online. I found them after fruitless and time-consuming missions to real-life shops to try and find what I needed. I like Summer Naturals because it stocks everything I need in one place, the pricing is fair and the orders always arrive very quickly. The 5 litre bottles do weigh a lot though, so to keep postage costs down, I tend to bulk order my bulk products. This lot should last me the best part of a year.

So, let’s see what we have in the box…

WHITE VINEGAR (2 x 5 litre bottles)

white vinegar for cleaning

At the time of writing, a five-litre bottle of white vinegar is £4.64. This is white spirit vinegar, brewed from molasses. Apparently it is food grade but, erm, I wouldn’t. You’d think it would pong more than it does.

How I use it:

Homemade Floor Cleaner (ingredient)
“It costs pennies and works just as well as the relatively expensive, chemical equivalent. The tiled floors also seem to dry more quickly, although I don’t know why that is.”

Fabric Softener
“A cheap, eco-friendly alternative to those expensive bottles of pastel-coloured, sweet-smelling gloop that are piled high on the supermarket shelves.”

Homemade Leather Food (ingredient)
“This keeps the leather just as soft and supple as Leather Food does – and costs next to nothing.”

I also use white vinegar as an ingredient in homemade multi-surface cleaner, and homemade bog cleaner. Apparently I have never written about either on this blog – which amazes me, frankly – so I shall endeavour to correct these oversights and update this post with fresh links in the very near future.

BICARBONATE OF SODA (2 x 2 kg bags)

bicarbonate of soda for cleaning

This is the same bicarbonate of soda you buy in the supermarket in name, but not in nature. Firstly, it isn’t food grade and you won’t find it in the Home Baking section. Secondly, it comes in bags the size of an intercepted cocaine shipment, rather than those piddly little pots. A 2 kg bag of bicarbonate of soda currently costs £4.09.

How I use it:

Cleaning Dirty Ovens (this continues to be one of the most popular posts on Miss Thrifty)

Rescuing Ruined Saucepans
“Have you incinerated its contents into a black, crusty glaze that is resolutely soap-proof? Don’t chuck it! Help is at hand.”

Fridge Deodoriser
I keep a little pot of the stuff in the fridge, to absorb all the odours. Apparently you can also use to absorb carpet odours, Shake N’ Vac style, but we have no pets and we only have carpets upstairs, so I’ve never tried that one.

I also use bicarbonate of soda as an ingredient in my homemade bog cleaner – recipe to come!

SOAP NUTS (2 x 1 kg bags)

soap nuts laundry

Soap nuts, which I use in place of laundry detergent, are priced at £12.99 per kg, and each nut can be reused up to four times. Soap nuts work out cheaper than store-bought detergent – even the budget stuff. Soap nuts are sticky: they grow on sapindus trees in China and India. Despite their eco credentials, there is a strangely industrial smell to them. I started with a 100g “starter pack” and have since graduated to these large bags, which last forever.

How I use them:

Cleaning Clothes
“Forget laundry detergent; put a handful of these nuts into an old sock, chuck them into the washing machine and let them do their stuff. They really work! They are eco-friendly too, being reusable, biodegradable and lacking the potential environmental impact of shop-bought laundry detergent.”

BORAX SUBSTITUTE (2 x 500g boxes)

borax cleaning

Apparently the only different between borax and borax substitute is that the latter isn’t suitable for pest control. I used to buy plain old borax, but I’m guessing that it was swapped out for health and safety reasons. It’s a white powder, which Summer Naturals sells for £3.09 per kg. It comes in 500g boxes, which is just as well because once the boxes are opened, the powder tends to clump.

How I use it:

Homemade Floor Cleaner (ingredient)
(Incidentally, I just noticed that this recipe from a couple of years ago specifies half a cup of borax per bucket-load of cleaner. I don’t use that much now – it’s more like a quarter of a cup. Perhaps I’ve become more frugal over the years, but half the quantity seems to work just as well!)

Laundry Brightener
I also add a quarter of a cup of borax substitute to the laundry when I’m washing whites. It acts as a very gentle bleach.

Well that’s my box, top to bottom. Now to unpack… If you have any questions, or if you use these products in additional ways to those mentioned here, please share in the comments!

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7 Responses to “Question: What’s in the box?

Sally says:

Thanks so much for posting this, I’d always wanted to buy these products but hadn’t been able to find them in enough quantity, other than the small supermarket sizes, I will be ordering some for us this week!!! Sally x

June 22, 2011 at 7:39 am

angela says:

Thanks for letting us know about this site. I use bicarb and white vinegar all time but have been buying from the supermarkets and although it’s cheaper than chemical products it’s still quite dear considering how much you get. A regular bottle of white vinegar in sainsburys 500 mls is £1.09 so your one is much better value. I use these because I don’t like the nasty fumes from commercial shop products. Also you can put bicarb down the sink and bath drains and follow with a good glug of white vinegar to keep them smelling fresh.

June 22, 2011 at 7:12 pm

I purchased a kilo of soap nuts approximately one year ago and it’s still going strong even though on average I do one load of washing a day! You can ‘finish off’ the nuts that have completed their washing-cycle-life-cycle by brewing them into liquid soap. This isn’t overly nice though in your ‘guest’ toilet or such but add a ground up pumice stone to the recipe and it becomes an ideal and cheap hand-scrub for the old man’s gardening hands!
I haven’t tried Summer Naturals, although I do use many of the items you’ve bought, so many thanks for the heads-up! 🙂

June 23, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Mona Cooper says:

I love green cleaning ideas. My absolute favorite is vinegar, but most of the people use it so here is a tip how to clean your toilet with borax:Pour 1 cup of borax into the toilet bowl at night before you go to sleep. The next morning clean out the toilet bowl with a brush. The borax will loosen all the grime buildup.

September 4, 2015 at 3:17 pm

Mildly acidic white vinegar dissolves dirt, soap scum, and hard water deposits from smooth surfaces, yet is gentle enough to use in solution to clean hardwood flooring.

White vinegar is a natural deodorizer, absorbing odors instead of covering them up. (And no, your bathroom won’t smell like a salad! Any vinegar aroma disappears when dry.) With no coloring agents, white vinegar won’t stain grout on tiled surfaces. Because it cuts detergent residue, white vinegar makes a great fabric softener substitute for families with sensitive skin.

October 1, 2015 at 3:17 pm

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