One of the things we have enjoyed most about our travels is saving money – yes, even while paying for fuel and accommodation and those once-in-a-lifetime experiences, it is possible to save money. For instance, how much money do households spend each year on chemicals, cleaning products, deodorisers, etc.? When you have a ‘normal’ home, there are so many incidental expenses that come up along the way, including products to keep it clean.
When travelling, however, not only do you not want to be spending money on those incidentals, but you don’t want to dedicate an entire cupboard in your caravan to cleaning products. So here are some of our best tips for keeping your car and caravan clean and smelling fresh as a daisy on your travels.
1. Baking Soda
Not only is baking soda exceptionally cheap, but for those of you who like home-made treats while on the road, chances are you’ve probably already got this in your cupboard somewhere. Baking soda neutralizes pH levels and cuts through bad smells. Back in the day it was commonly used in refrigerators, but there are plenty of other places it can be used too (basically, anywhere you want to remove a smell!):
- Rubbish bags
- Shoes and storage boxes
- Carpets, mats and upholstery in your car and caravan
- Laundry hampers
To clean and deodorise at the same time, scrub with baking soda mixed with a little bit of water. Or simple sprinkle on the offending smell, leave 15 minutes and dust-bust it away. Voila!
White vinegar can be used in much the same way as baking soda. An open cup of vinegar can be used in much the same way as an open tub/box of baking soda, or if you have a particularly nasty smell in your car or caravan, leave an uncovered cup on your bench or dashboard and it will help to eliminate the nasty odour. Bonus: vinegar is not only a great cleaning product as well, but can also be used to make poached eggs in your frying pan! If you’re lucky enough to have an oven inside your van to cook with, you may experience a spillage from time to time. Combine some baking soda with the vinegar – the baking soda acts as an abrasive and deodorised while the vinegar acts as a bleach.
3. Rolled Oats
Not just a hearty breakfast cereal, a bowl of oats left out will also help to draw in smells and remove them from the air.
4. Ground Coffee Beans
Personally I’m not a big fan of coffee (either the taste or the smell), but if you love the smell then this will work a treat! Ground coffee beans can be used to eliminate smells in carpets and upholstery – especially handy if you’re looking at buying a second-hand car or caravan that used to belong to a smoker.
5. Lemon Juice
Why buy fake “lemon-scented” products when you can use the real thing? Use a few lemon peels in your garbage bag, serve with foods that include fish and garlic, to help neutralise their strong odours in confined spaces, or rub over cutting boards to keep them fresh and clean smelling. It can also be used as a natural hand-wash – simply rub on your hands.
These will do less “neutralising” and more “covering up”, but if you need a quick fix in the short term this will work! Boil some water on your cooktop, and add some of your favourite cooking spices (Cinnamon is a good place to start!). Fresh lavender also works a treat, and as a side bonus will help calm your mood. Alternatively, you could just do some baking – cookies will help your van smell good and guaranteed you’ll be in a better mood too after eating them!
7. Fresh Plants
If you’re the sort of traveller who takes some greenery with you to cheer up the outside of your van, why not swap things over the bring the greenery indoors for a change. Plants are a known natural air-freshener.
8. Natural Beeswax and Soy Candles
Perhaps a little more difficult in the car, but we can personally attest to the fact that these work a treat in the caravan – even when they’re not lit! When they are lit, however, as they burn they release negatively charged irons that cling to positive charged irons to remove unwanted smells.