Spring Cleaning – Naturally!

I don’t know if there is anything that can compare to the feeling I get when I throw open the windows for the first time after a long, stuffy Winter.  Feeling the cool, fresh air breeze through the house invigorates me, and fills me with the urge to clean everything in sight.  Cleaning the house is a special challenge for me since I am sensitive to most commercial cleaning products.  The strong chemicals contained in most cleaners will have me coughing, itching, and generally miserable in a matter of minutes.  Luckily, making natural cleaning products for the home is simple, easy, and usually inexpensive!  I’d like to share some of my favorite natural cleaning tips with you – just in time for the big Spring clean!

Oil_and_vinegar Vinegar
Vinegar is the magic potion of natural house cleaning.  Vinegar can be used to wash the windows, the tub, and most household surfaces. It can help destroy bacteria and odors, and remove build up from appliances, plumbing, and more.  While most varieties of vinegar will work for these recipes, I prefer to use White Vinegar for cleaning purposes.  If you prefer using all Organic products, you can use Organic Apple Cider Vinegar along with Organic Essential Oils and Organic Castille Soap Base.

How to Refresh Fabric or Paper Using Vinegar
Use this simple method to help remove foul odors from porous objects like fabric or paper.

Ingredients
–  A small bowl of vinegar
– 1 slice of bread
– 1 cardboard box (big enough to fit your smelly object and the bowl)

Instructions
Find a place in your home where the box will not be disturbed, tipped over, or kicked accidentally.  Place the smelly object and the bowl of vinegar into the cardboard box.  Place the slice of bread into the bowl of vinegar.  Close the box and seal it tightly using tape.  In 24 hours open the box and remove the contents, discarding the vinegar and bread.  Allow your smelly object to air out for an hour or so.  The foul odor should have been completely eliminated, or at least greatly diminished.

Vinegar Window Wash
This natural solution can be used to clean windows, screens, mirrors, and glass shower doors.

Ingredients
– 1 cup Vinegar
– 3 cups Warm Water
– 3 drops Citrus Essential Oil (Lemon, Lime, or Grapefruit work quite well.)

Instructions
Use this solution with a lint free cloth such as a microfiber towel to ensure clean, clear, streak free windows.

Vinegar Soap Scum Buster
As any natural soap user can tell you, soap scum can be a fierce opponent.  Use this natural solution to power through it like a pro.

Ingredients
– 1 cup Vinegar
– 1/2 cup Warm Water
– 1 tsp. Castille Soap or Natural Dish Washing Liquid
– 1/2 tsp. Grapefruit Seed Extract
– 1/4 tsp. Lavender Essential Oil

Instructions
Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well.  Spray your tub, shower, or anywhere else that soap scum has built up.  Leave the solution on the surfaces for at least 15 minutes before wiping away.

More Uses for Vinegar
The household uses for vinegar don’t stop there!  Here are some other simple ways to clean house naturally using vinegar:

– Remove spots and enhance the shine of glassware by rinsing them in a vinegar and water solution.

– Remove buildup inside your shower head by soaking it in a bowl of vinegar.  If removing your shower head is not an option, simply fill a plastic bag with vinegar and hang it from the shower head.  Allow the shower head to soak for several hours, ideally overnight, before rinsing it out.  The vinegar will eat away build up and allow your shower to work like new again.

– Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to your wash to help power away odors in your laundry. You can also pre-treat laundry that has been soiled with extra smelly stains.  This is especially helpful for those with babies or pets.

– Microwave a small bowl of vinegar and water for 1 – 2 minutes.  The steam from the vinegar solution will release grime from the walls of your microwave, allowing you to easily wipe it away.

– Clean out your washing machine by running an empty load on the hottest setting and adding 2 – 3 cups of vinegar.  This will help to disinfect the washing machine while removing buildup and residue.

Lemon_wedge Citrus
Citrus Essential Oils and Extracts are powerful allies in the war against dirt and grime.  Citrus Essential Oils and Extracts contain antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties.  On top of that, they are very effective at cutting through grease, oils, and adhesives, making them natural choices for cleaning products.  Their pleasant, fresh aromas are icing on the cake.

Citrus Blast Dish Washing Soap
This all natural dish soap is a cinch to make.  Castille Soap does not produce as rich a lather as commercial dish soaps, but don’t let that fool you.  It is still an effective cleaner, despite the smaller amount of bubbles.

Ingredients
– 16 oz. Liquid Castille Soap Base
– 5 drops Grapefruit Seed Extract
– 10 drops Grapefruit Essential Oil
– 5 drops Lime Essential Oil
– 5 drops Mandarin Essential Oil

Instructions
Mix the ingredients well and pour them into a 16 ounce Bottle with a Snap or Disc cap.  Do not use a pump, as the Citrus Essential Oil may destroy it.  Add the soap directly to the dish water or apply it to a sponge.

Orange Lavender Floor Cleaner
Orange and Lavender Essential Oils make this floor cleaner extra effective, and a pleasure to use.  However, if you live with cats, you may not want to use a cleaner like this.  Cats can not metabolize Essential Oils the way that humans can.  In fact, many Essential Oils can be toxic to them.  Since kitties spend a lot of time on the floor, you should avoid cleaning it with Essential Oils.

Ingredients
– 1 gallon hot water
– 1 oz. Liquid Castille Soap
– 10 drops Lavender Essential Oil
– 15 drops Orange Essential Oil

Instructions
In a small bowl, combine Liquid Castille Soap and Essential Oils.  Fill a gallon sized bucket with hot water and gently stir in the Castille Soap and Essential Oil mixture.  Use this solution to mop the floor as usual.

BakingSoda Baking Soda
The simple chemical reaction that occurs between Baking Soda and an acid such as Lemon Juice, or Hydrogen Peroxide can be very helpful when it comes to house keeping.  Additionally, Baking Soda makes a gentle, but effective scrubber.  When something needs a little extra scrubbing, reach for Baking Soda before the steel wool.  You may be surprised at how effective it can be!

Oxygen Stain Remover
Soaking fabrics in this simple solution can help remove many stains even after they have been “set”.  Fabrics can appear brighter, and fresher after this intensive soak.

Ingredients
– 1 cup Baking Soda
– 1 cup Hydrogen Peroxide
– 2 cups Hot Water

Instructions
Combine ingredients in a clean bucket.  Add stained or dingy fabrics to the solution and allow them to soak for 4 – 24 hours.  Depending on the type of fabric, you may want to allow the mixture to cool first.  Please note, this solution is probably not safe for all fabrics.  Choose the fabrics that you use this solution on wisely.

Baking Soda Scouring Powder
You can use this natural cleanser in place of traditional scouring cleansers like Comet to clean sinks, and other non-porous, dingy surfaces.

Ingredients
– 1/2 cup Baking Soda
– 1/4 cup Borax
– 1/4 cup White Kaolin Clay

Instructions
Mix the ingredients well and package the powder in a Sifter Container.  Sprinkle the powder on the surface that you want to clean and wet it with a wet sponge or a little vinegar.

Scrub_and_towel

More Natural Cleaning Information
– To learn more about natural house keeping you may want to pick up a copy of The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier.  This book contains over 100 safe and easy herbal formulas for nontoxic cleansers.

– Check out this article on Natural Cleaning Alternatives from The New Homemaker or this article on Non-Toxic Home Care from  EarthEasy.com.

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