A suburban greenmom longs for a spring-scrubbed home but dreads the process of getting there...
Okay, I have to be perfectly honest here. Reading posts from all my garden-greeny friends who are already harvesting stuff from their gardens is making me want to throw lingering icicles at y’all. Because I live just outside
But today…today it was 70 degrees out and for the first time we got to open all our windows. First the first time we let the stale winter air out of our house, let some new spring air in. It felt amazing.
Unfortunately, right on the heels of this lovely airing-out—the realization that spring cleaning is going to have to happen soon.
My husband and I are not great housekeepers. Pretty bad, actually. We both have this tendency to procrastinate and procrastinate until the job is much worse than it otherwise would have been. In general, I’m the one who keeps the daily clutter as manageable as possible, and when it’s time for the serious every-other-week cleanings (er…okay, I’ll be honest, we don’t do the serious cleanings every other week, more like every other month) he’s best at stuff like floors and tubs and stuff like that. And we do our weekly “clean before the sitter comes so she won’t think we live like pigs” blow-through before choir practice on Wednesday nights.
But. We’re going to have to take a whole weekend, and fairly soon, to really clean this house. To move every blessed thing off the kitchen surfaces and scrub the heck out of them. To attack the creeping tub-grime. To empty and scrub the refrigerator, and refill it again with the actual food and compost or throw out the science projects. To move the actual furniture and vacuum the living room. And bedrooms. The shelves. The books. The surfaces.
This will be our first year trying to do this since my discovering natural cleaning products—by which I mean, vinegar and baking soda. Unfortunately my husband does not share my admiration for the stuff, and his idea of “green” cleaners are anything with the word “natural” in the name. And he genuinely believes that having separate bottled purchases for the toilet, the counter, even the kitchen versus the bathroom, will make things get cleaner. Which all results in a combination of way more bottles and containers than we have room for, many of which contain a bunch of chemical nasties. (This is not me complaining, by the way—I have a husband who shares the cleaning with me, and I fully realize he’s worth his weight in gold.)
I on the other hand have a spray bottle full of a mixture of white vinegar and water, with a few drops each of lemon and lavender essential oils to help with cleaning and reduce the smell (which I don’t mind but which hubby hates). I use it for pretty much everything.
Still, I’m fairly new at this, and I get the sense that a lot of Booth readers have more tricks up your sleeves than I do. I was just shy of giddy to discover this site with 1001 uses for distilled white vinegar, and even giddier to realize that I already know several hundred of them. (Now to be clear, I haven’t taken a count to see if they actually come up to 1001…y’all knock yourselves out if you wish, and report back. J)
So vinegar, or baking soda, or that wonderful bubbly mixture of vinegar and baking soda, will form the backbone of my cleaning supplies. Addition of good antifungal and antibacterial essential oils (like tea tree, lemon, eucalyptus, and maybe lavender because it smells so yummy) to boost their effectiveness. But beyond that I’m not sure where to go, or if I’ll even need to go anywhere.
Crunchy Betty, my heroine of the blogoverse, has been on this whole soap nut kick lately. And like so many things Betty, she’s presented it in a way that has me both cowering a little in intimidation (as in, “what, just toss them in the laundry? It can’t possibly be that easy, I’m sure I’d screw it up”) and dying to give them a try…but I haven’t gone there yet. It’s next on my list, though—I love her idea of cooking the saponins out of the nuts and then freezing the soapnut-liquid in ice cube trays; that’s just brilliant. One would have to keep it separate from the frozen concentrated chicken broth cubes, I guess, but labeling would take care of that, right?
She also mentions coconut oil as a good household cleaner, for things like furniture and bronze polish.
There’s a motherlode of natural cleaning products found here, too, at Eco-cycle, including one for non-toxic silver polish. Which means I might actually get Great-Aunt Mary’s gorgeous but horribly tarnished silver coffee service looking pretty again…and honestly, I’m going to need to start now to convince the family (especially my kids) that once the current box of Swiffers (bought a couple of years ago, before greenlightenment) runs out, we don’t need to buy more of them and can use other kinds of dustrags.
Of course, finding the time to actually do all this will be much harder than finding the cleaning supplies, especially now that the cleaning supplies are so much easier to come by. But does anyone have any large and fabulous ideas (or small gnarly ones) I haven’t thought of yet? Anything that would give this over-busy two-jobs-adults short-attention-span-theater children family an easier time of spring cleaning?
--Jenn the Greenmom