August 16, 2022

Homekeeping Essentials

By Sarah E.J. Williams
natural homekeeping essentials

Although not many people associate cleaning house with having fun, most of us would likely admit that the results can be quite satisfying. There is just something about having a clean & organized home – I find that when my home is tidy, I am much more motivated & productive in other areas of my life.

I once read a quote by Meagan Francis while I was flipping thru the pages of Veranda magazine that said, “Cleaning and organizing is a practice, not a project.” I think this sentiment is true for most things in life but I’ll save that thought for another post ;-)

In the spirit of adopting tidiness as a practice, I thought I would share the products I use that make cleaning a little more enjoyable.  

Savon de Marseille

I’m pretty passionate about the idea that items in our home can be both functional and beautiful so if there is an option that fulfills both, sign me up. On that note, I love using bars of French soap in my home. Not only is Savon de Marseille lovely, it is all-natural, sustainable & multipurpose. It is great for removing stains from fabric, washing dishes, cleaning hard surfaces and even bathing pets. For most applications, you simply mix with warm water to use. The variety I use for cleaning is either the green, olive oil based or the white, coconut oil based soap. Both are made using very limited ingredients including sea salt and at least 72% vegetable oil. As a result, it is both hypoallergenic and gentle on the skin. When purchasing French soap, not all soaps are created equally so it is important to make sure you are buying authentic Savon de Marseille that was made using time-honored techniques and traditional, pure ingredients. Authentic Savon de Marseille is available online in the Gray Gables Home shoppe.

Pure Castile Soap

Castile soap is another versatile product that I use often. It too is made using vegetable oil and is free of synthetic ingredients. When I’m not using French soap, liquid castile soap is my next choice. It is great for removing dirt & pesticides from fruits & vegetables, washing windows, mopping floors and as a dishwasher detergent. The brand I prefer is Dr Bronner. It is available in 8 different fragrances including fragrance free. My go to fragrance is “citrus” which has a very light, fresh scent.

For use as an all-purpose cleaner, I like to use glass spray bottles that I purchase from Sally’s Organics thru Amazon. I mix soap and water using a 50/50 ratio. If you want to be a little more creative, you can mix together 4oz of water, 4oz of white distilled vinegar, 4oz of castile soap and 30 drops of your favorite essential oil. Note that it's important to be careful when using essential oils on porous surfaces such as marble or wood. 

For use as a hand soap or dish soap, I like to use an olive oil cruet as it dispenses the perfect amount of product and looks pretty on the counter.

Dr Bronner also offers a product called Sal Suds which is a biodegradable cleaner made using plant-based ingredients including natural fir needle and essential oils. It has a little more cleaning power than the regular castile soap and I’ve noticed that it is a little more sudsy. I typically purchase these products directly from the Dr Bronner website but they can also be found on Amazon and from other online retailers.  

Pop-Up Sponges

Typical kitchen sponges are made of microplastics and are terrible for the environment. Pop-up sponges, on the other hand, are a biodegradable product made from all-natural vegetable cellulose. Commonly used across Europe, they arrive pressed down in the shape of a thin, flat rectangle which is great for storing as they take up significantly less space. Once immersed in water, they expand to the size of a normal sponge. They are incredibly absorbent and gentle on surfaces. They can be sanitized for reuse by placing them on the top rack of the dishwasher. They can be found at Trader Joe’s, Williams-Sonoma or there is an option on Amazon that is actually made in France.  

Wood & Natural Fiber Brushes

When I need a little more scrubbing power, I prefer to use a natural fiber brush. Made using beech wood and vegetable fiber bristles, they too are an environmentally friendly option and are great for removing stubborn dirt. They are also incredibly efficient at cleaning grout and tile. When it comes to cleaning cast irons pots and grill grates, the brass bristle option is perfect. I simply use a mixture of water and Sals Suds with my brush and voila – a much better alternative to using harsh, toxic chemicals. If you need a little extra grit, mixing in baking soda makes scrubbing a little easier.


I find that having your most used cleaning products & tools readily available in a caddy that is easy to tote around makes cleaning much more efficient and less of a chore. This eliminates the need to hunt down the items you need and then juggle them from room to room, saving time and energy right off the bat. I’ve found that the French garden basket available online at Gray Gables Home works perfectly. There are also other great options online at Target and Crate & Barrel.

I hope you’ve found this information helpful. Here’s to not only having a clean & organized home but being inspired to “whistle while we work!”

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