By Paula Begley – The Saucy Southerner
As the days lengthen, and the weather turns warmer, and the birds start singing at the top of their sweet melodious voices, my mind turns to Spring and the renewal of Mother Earth for a new season. There is nothing more beautiful to me than that very first hint of light and lovely new green bursting forth on bush and bough. This, inevitably, causes my mind to turn toward that seemingly thankless task (certainly devised by some evil entity) called Spring cleaning.
If you are like me, this chore is met with a growing concern; that being the introduction into house and home of toxic chemicals used for cleaning. Fortunately, there are simple and cost-effective alternatives to those chemical-laden household cleansers. As everyone watches their pocketbooks, such cleanser alternatives become more and more appealing to us all; not only are they inexpensive to make, they are simple to prepare, and offer us non-toxic solutions to our household cleaning chores.
Most conventional cleaning products contain petroleum-based ingredients which, by their very nature, have dubious health and environmental implications. And, they are everywhere; coating our dishes, countertops, clothes, furniture, windows and permeating the very air we breathe. Fortunately, there are plenty of natural products and methods to use that will keep our houses clean and fresh-smelling, and all without any of the toxic side-effects of commercial cleansers.
While more and more companies are jumping on the bandwagon of green cleaning products for our household use, and while this is commendable on their part, those products are still expensive. If you aren’t concerned with the cost of those green cleansers, and if you don’t want to take the minutes it takes to prepare your own solutions, by all means buy and use those products.
If you are looking for a way to not only go green with Spring cleaning, but also to save a lot of money, this article will offer you “recipes” for a variety of cleaning dilemmas.
Here is a list of items you will need for a variety of uses:
Baking Soda: Eliminates odors and works as a mild scouring agent.
Cinnamon Sticks and Whole Clove: Aromatics used for air-freshening.
Club Soda: This is a polisher and stain-remover.
Corn Meal: Works as a stain absorber and is great as a carpet cleaner.
Essential Oils: (Optional and I don’t use them): Used for their fragrance, if you are used to “perfumed” products, there are some – such as eucalyptus, lavender, lemongrass, peppermint and tea tree which may have antibacterial, antifungal or insect-repelling properties to them.
Hydrogen Peroxide: This is also a non-toxic bleaching substance and will work well as a disinfectant.
Kosher Salt: Works as an abrasive scouring agent.
Whole Lemons and Oranges: Citric acid is a non-toxic bleaching agent that is fresh-smelling and works as a grease-cutter and stain remover.
Olive Oil: Works as a furniture polish.
White vinegar (buy gallon jugs for economy): An antifungal which also kills bacteria and germs.
Water: Used to dilute solutions.
Now, on to their uses:
1 stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon whole cloves
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 cups water
Instructions: In a small sauce pan, add all of the ingredients and bring to a boil on the stove-top. The steam from the vinegar in the water will reduce airborne odors, and the cinnamon and cloves will impart a nice fragrance.
12 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon baking soda
Peels from an orange and a lemon
6 cups hot water
Instructions: In a large jar, add the vinegar and baking soda and stir to dissolve the baking soda. This will bubble up, don’t be concerned. Let it settle and add the peels from an orange and from a lemon, and the hot water. Stir and let sit for a day. Remove the citrus peel, and pour into a spray bottle for use.
Bathroom Surface Cleaner:
The all-purpose cleaner is good for bathroom surfaces too, but if you have stubborn soap scum, you can use a mixture of baking soda and water to make a paste; this will work like a scouring powder. This also works very well for a kitchen sink or stove-top cleanser too.
You can also use half of an orange or grapefruit sprinkled with kosher salt to use as a scrubber. The salt will remove the stubborn soap scum and the citrus will leave a clean, fresh scent. Just rinse the surfaces with water.
Carpet Cleaner: Combine ½ cup baking soda with 1 cup of corn meal. Sprinkle this mixture on the rug, and rub with a dry cloth. Let the powder sit for several hours, or overnight, then vacuum it up. For removing acidic stains, such as wine, juice or coffee, use club soda to dampen a cloth to rub the stain.
Garbage Disposal Freshener: Use the lemon and orange (or any citrus) peel you’ve used to make your All-Purpose cleanser (or that you use for cooking) and grind it up in the disposal.
Glass Cleanser: A mixture of water and white vinegar (2 cups water and ¼ cup white vinegar) in a spray bottle; use a lint-free cloth, or old newspaper (surprisingly) with the spray for a streak-free shine.
Hardwood Floor Cleaner: Mix ½ cup white vinegar to 2 gallons of warm water in your mop bucket; mop with a sponge or mop.
Mold Remover: Mix ½ cup hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar with 1 cup of water. Pour into a spray bottle and spray the moldy area. Do not rinse.
Wood Furniture Polish: Dab olive oil on a soft cloth and rub the wood surface.
These are just a few of the basic cleansers and ideas that will help you with your green Spring cleaning. Spring is just around the corner, so stock up now, and go GREEN!