In my grandmother’s home the floors at home would be simply washed with water and the excess water swept away with a broom. Instead of soap and shampoo, we had vaasanaippodi and shikakai powder. Clothes were washed with soapnuts. Utensils were washed using ash (சாம்பல்) and coconut coir was the scrubber. Even tooth powder was home made. Whether it was due to thrift, lack of availability of detergents, cosmetics etc. or a conscious decision to not ruin the environment, I don’t know. But I do know that with the emergence and ready availability of FMCG products, all these traditional products were discarded in favour of the more fashionable and convenient detergents, cosmetics and household cleaners. We now have a plethora of chemically based products and are completely spoilt for choice.
Unfortunately this convenience has come at a tremendous cost to both our own health and the health of the environment. All this indiscriminate washing away of these cleaners along with our bath water which gets dumped into our water bodies through our sewage
system is causing the foaming of our lakes (Bellandur lake in Bangalore) and even burning of the lakes due to the toxic fumes emanating from these lakes because of these chemicals. These detergents contain phosphates, ammonia, nitrates, and chlorine along with many more harmful substances that pollute the air, groundwater, rivers, lakes and the whole environment.
I pick up my citrus peels from a local juice shop. Yes, you do get strange looks when you ask for citrus peels but you do get it. I find it is easier to get the peels in the evening when these shops make the juices ready for the evening customers. Alternatively, you could leave a container with them and have them fill it and then pick it up later. In a plastic bucket add the jaggery, peels and then water. Some people warm the water a little before adding to the peels. Finally add the yeast, mix well and cover the container tightly. Do make sure that the lid is airtight as you don’t want too much oxygen during this fermentation process. If it is not airtight you may get a black fungus or sometimes maggots in the pail, which is not good for the bio-enzyme cleaner.
You will need to open the lid and mix it well each day for the first 10 days. This releases the gases that are formed. After this, set it aside and leave it tightly covered for a couple of weeks. You may notice some white fungus on the top. This is perfectly fine. The cleaner should be ready in three weeks if you have added yeast. If you haven’t, it will take three months. After three weeks, the peels would have settled on the bottom of the pail. Strain the liquid and store in bottles for use as a regular household cleaner. The cleaner can be stored outside at room temperature. The remaining peel can be thrown into your compost bin.
8. Pest Control: Continued use of Bio enzyme has been known to repel small insects, ants, cockroaches at home (though it doesn’t kill them).