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… under the sink there used to be an army of bottles and containers, so many colours, each containing a different cleaning product, each with its own special function: one for the floor, one for the walls, one for the sink, one for the taps, another for worktops on greasy days, or sticky days… The aisles in the supermarket led me to believe this was the only way to keep my house clean. I suspect advertising on TV and in magazines would have reinforced that message, but I don’t watch TV or read magazines.

… somewhere along the line someone introduced me to vinegar, then to baking soda. I haven’t replaced any of those coloured bottles under the sink when they have run out. Not only are baking soda and vinegar cheap, they clean well and are also good for the environment. Seems like win win.

… occasionally I still need something a bit more specialised for a specific job, like cleaning the windows (alcohol and corn flour with vinegar seem to be the secret) or laundry detergent (I have already talked about that), and then I need to find “exotic” ingredients for my magic potions 🙂

… this search has led me to new outlets, Aladdin’s caves I probably wouldn’t have found if I wasn’t hunting for the ever elusive borax, baking soda by the kilo, glycerine. The good old fashioned “droguerie”. I am not even sure if this translates to drugstore, as I seem to remember from American books I have read and films I have seen that people used to go to drugstores to drink soda in the 50’s?

… men in white coats, powders in bins and bottles, scales and ladles, hand written labels, skull and cross bone stickers on small white paper bags. The droguerie is a disappearing institution, I hope people realise what they risk losing and change their shopping habits before it is too late and they are all gone.

… a recent trip to stock up on “powders”, my attention was drawn to a window display of old fashioned white bottles with striking blue labels “the authentic black soap made from olive oil“. I was curious, I picked up a leaflet – this stuff can be used to clean everything from indoor floors to house roofs, from your silverware to your boat’s hull, from rose bushes to washing your dog, the list seems endless. It is natural and biodegradable. How could I not pick up a bottle?

… even if it makes me even more of a black sheep, the lone family member who veers away from the products made by the company my father worked for all his career!