Thursday, April 8, 2010

Will spring cleaning make spring finally arrive?

Some natural cleaning tips from the Greenhabilitator...

The Green Moms Carnival this month is about spring and all it encompasses - from cleaning to gardening to renewal of the spirit. Seeing as we woke up to snow on the ground again today in Colorado, I've not been doing any gardening yet (not outside at least) and my spirit is feeling far from renewed.

The only spring-like activity I have taken part in has been the daunting task of spring cleaning. All the dusty baseboards and smudged windows sat quietly by through the winter while I was curled up on the couch, under a blanket, with a good book, knowing I couldn't neglect them forever. I pretended not to see the cobwebs forming on our vaulted ceilings, for fear I'd actually have to get out the ladder to dust. And it's been way too long since my shower grout has had a date with the old toothbrush hiding under the sink.

Knowing how fickle Mother Nature can be, I succumbed last weekend to the (nonexistent) pressure, thinking maybe she was waiting for me to clean my house before sending spring to our neck of the woods. And clean I did - from top to bottom.

Having three children under 5 at home (including a potty training 2 year old) makes for a messy bathroom, to say the least. I don't buy or use any chemical-laden cleaning products - or any of the so-called "natural" cleaners either, for that matter. For the bathroom I use my core product - vinegar - and some essential oils that have disinfectant properties to them.

Bathroom Cleaner
8 oz water
8 oz white vinegar
4 drops of cinnamon oil (more if desired)

According to famed French researcher, Dr. Jean C. Lapraz, cinnamon oil is "anti-bacterial and anti-viral, killing those germs we generally believe require chemical antibiotics to overpower."

Grapefruit and other citrus oils are also good to use in the bathroom. I often use the citrus scents in the spring and summer time and save the cinnamon for fall and winter.

In the kitchen and dining area I use a similar spray cleaner, but cut back on the amount of vinegar.

All-Purpose Kitchen Cleaner
4 oz white vinegar
8 oz water
Rosemary or Thyme essential oil

Rosemary, Thyme, Clove and many other herbs used in cooking also kill germs, so they're great to use in your kitchen spray. Of course, I also like lemon or grapefruit in the summer months, which can be used all over the house.

While spring cleaning I like to throw open the curtains that have been closed all winter, to hold in heat, and let in some sunlight and fresh air. That alone chases away much of the musty winter scent, but it's always nice to freshen the air with something other than commercial air fresheners that are dangerous to inhale.

Air Freshener
Fine mist spray bottle
4 oz water
5-10 drops eucalyptus oil
5-10 drops tea tree oil
5-10 drops lavender oil
5-10 drops peppermint oil

For this, you can really experiment with scents that you like. I received a premixed bottle of the above and, despite seeming like an odd combination, found it to be quite lovely. This can be sprayed around a room just as you would an aerosol or Febreeze-type version.

Finally, the hardwood floors. Mopping is such a pain - physically and figuratively - but there is no reason to use those stinky commercial products. My floor cleaner consists mostly of water with just a dash of Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap added in. For bathroom floors I may add some borax, but the floors in the main rooms usually don't need more than a good mop with hot soapy water.

I find it much more pleasant to clean using natural products - no watery eyes, burning lungs or headaches, just simple ingredients for a simple family.

By the way, if you see Mother Nature, could you let her know that my house is clean and I'm waiting here (not so) patiently for spring to arrive? I fear she might have forgotten us this year.

This post is for the Green Moms Carnival that will be hosted at Green Talk on April 12th.


Jenn the Greenmom said...

These are GREAT recipes--I don't know why it's never occurred to me to use cinnamon oil in my cleaning solutions. I use lemon a lot, and tea tree, but I have a little bottle of cinnamon that doesn't get used much, so I'll have to get moving on that...

Thyme is a real powerhouse oil, as is oregano--I find them both fairly objectionable scent-wise, though. Mixing with Rosemary might help a lot...

Thanks for the recipes!!

Daisy said...

Our school cleaning staff uses a vinegar solution for cleaning chalkboards. The scent of vinegar itself always makes me think of "clean."

Robbie said...

Great recipes!

For the bathrooms, I usually just scrub the tub with a baking soda paste. Cheap, works and I don't feel bad about my child being around it when she wants to "help!"

Ivy said...

Great recipes! I'll have to use these. I have some of the more natural cleaners, but I still worry about my pets. And, well, me.

Do you have any recommendations for freshening upholstery? I got a great loveseat at a flea market. While I'm cleaning the few stains off with baking soda, it still smells a bit off. I'm just not sure how to get the smell out without using chemicals.

concretenprimroses said...

Great recipes, thanks!

About the smelly sofa, I read once about using newspaper to absorb odor. I've used it successfully with a small chair with an upholstered back and seat. Here's my thought about doing it on a larger scale: Put newspapers under the cushions and stuff into the crevices, lay newspapers on the arms back etc, crumple up abunch and put on top then cover the whole thing with a big heavy drop cloths and let sit for a day or two. Baking soda sprinkled can't hurt either I would think. After you can still recycle the newspaper. Our local paper uses soy based ink that doesn't come off black. Probably need to be careful if you have smeary newspapers and light colored upholstery. Good luck.

Citizen Green said...

Great recipes for cleaners! I am going to try the bathroom cleaner for sure.

Lynn from OrganicMania said...

I love these recipes! Well, hate cleaning but love the recipes...thanks so much for another great Green Phone Booth contribution to the Green Moms Carnival!

Anonymous said...

I will be sure to put in a word with Mother Nature on your behalf.

Thanks for the recipes, too. I especially love the idea of using cinnamon oil, it sounds like it would smell fabulous.

Lisa Sharp said...

Thanks for the cleaning recipes. I love trying new homemade cleaners! :)


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