Clean green this spring
Ahhh...spring. Is there anything better than the feeling of the sun on your face, the sound of birds chirping, the sight of flowers blooming or the smell of chemical cleaning products? The answer is, YES! At least when it comes to spring cleaning. Your pantry is probably stocked with environmentally-friendly, non-toxic alternatives to traditional cleaning products. With a little guidance, you can easily green your spring cleaning routine.
What you'll need
Take some time to gather some essential everyday products in a cleaning caddy or bucket. It's likely that you have these items already. But if you don't, they are easily found at your local market and they are much more affordable than heavily-marketed cleaning products. You will need:
- Baking soda - The uses are endless for this safe, non-toxic product.
- Lemon juice - A great stain remover and deodorizer.
- White vinegar - Similar to all-purpose cleaner, vinegar is another must have tool.
- Salt - Excellent for scrubbing difficult stains.
- Essential oils (such as grapefruit seed, oregano, lavender) - Adds a delicious fragrance to all-natural cleaning concoctions. Many oils are also anti-bacterial.
- Cream of tartar - Perfect for polishing porcelain surfaces.
- Castile soap - This vegetable-oil based cleaner is safe and gentle.
- Olive oil - This truly all-purpose oil is great for polishing wood and treating squeaky hinges.
- Cornstarch - An unbeatable odor absorber.
- Newspaper - Use instead of paper to clean glass.
- Isopropyl Alcohol - Great for glass, tile or other shiny surfaces.
A solution of baking soda, water and lemon juice can tackle most kitchen challenges. Use it to clean grout and remove dried-on food from your oven. If you have a particularly stubborn stain, thicken the mixture to a paste and really work it into the problem area before wiping clean.
For the inside of the refrigerator, place a few drops of castile soap into warm water and wipe down all surfaces. Sometimes drinking glasses need some extra elbow grease to get them sparkling again. Try soaking them in a solution of vinegar and water to bring them back to clean. Finally, freshen up your garbage disposal by crushing some ice and citrus rinds. To maintain a clean disposal, do this every time you use a lemon or an orange.
To deep clean your toilet bowl, spray it with white vinegar and then liberally sprinkle in some baking soda. Allow these products to mingle while you tackle another cleaning project and then scrub with a toilet brush and flush. You can also drop denture tablets into your toilet for periodic cleaning.
To clean tubs, sinks and showers, use a generous amount of salt and a damp cloth. A paste of cream of tartar and water polishes porcelain surfaces while lime deposits can be removed by covering the area with a vinegar-soaked paper towel before wiping dry.
Don't waste your money on expensive and toxic drain cleaners. If you haven't used baking soda, vinegar and water to clear your drains before, you will be surprised by their effectiveness. Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain and follow with a cup of vinegar. Allow the two to bubble for five to ten minutes and then rinse the drain with a pot of boiling water.
Even if you vacuum frequently, it's a good idea to add an extra boost to your carpet cleaning routine every once in a while. Both baking soda and cornstarch are excellent choices for this job. Mixing a few drops of your favorite essential oil into the powder before sprinkling on the carpet will make your entire house smell fresh and clean. Allow the powder to sit on the carpet overnight and then vacuum in the morning.
Spring is the perfect time to address this often neglected feature of your house. Wipe them down with a mixture of warm water, vinegar and a few drops of essential oil. If further cleaning is necessary, you can use a few drops of castile soap and warm water.
There is really no reason to spend money on commercial glass cleaners when vinegar and water does such a great job. Combine the two in a spray bottle, spritz on windows and wipe with crumpled newspaper. You can also use rubbing alcohol for small jobs. Just spray it on the newspaper or cloth rather than directly on the glass.
To deep clean your wood floors, add a few drops of castile soap to a mixture of vinegar and water. You can also add some essential oils for fragrance. Any residue will be removed and your floors will shine.
Traditional furniture polish appears to do a good job, but it also leaves behind a tell-tale residue and unnaturally strong scent. Opt for a natural furniture polish by combining olive oil with a little water and lemon juice. Your wood furniture will be renewed without harsh chemicals.
Vinegar will boost the efficiency and effectiveness of many household appliances. Use it in your dishwasher to help glasses sparkle or in the rinse cycle of your washing machine to take the place of fabric softener. Running vinegar through your automatic coffeepot will reduce calcium deposits and improve the taste of your coffee (just be sure to follow with at least two cycles of just water).