One Wellness' Spring Cleaning blog series will bring you new ideas each week for holistic and sustainable ways to get rid of the dirt, dust, toxins, parasites and habits that build up over the long winter months and can interfere with your health and wellbeing. Your body is programmed to naturally detoxify itself in the spring, and these tips will get you jumpstarted to wellness even faster!
We will start with the obvious way to clean house in the spring. By cleaning your house! First, we will take a look at what we have under the sink. As a mother you might think that I keep my cleaning products locked away, but nothing could be farther from the truth! Since I don't use any toxic products to clean my home, I leave everything out where my son could easily access it, and maybe even help me with the chores! He loves spraying the counters and wiping the table, even if I can't seem to get him to pick up the toys in his room.
What's in my cleaning arsenal?
1. Vinegar - I use this for literally everything! I keep at least 2 spray bottles of vinegar and water, one in the bathroom and one in the kitchen. The ratio is best used at 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar. You can also add a teaspoon of lemon juice and/or 5 drops of lemon essential oil to cut the vinegar smell and increase the cleaning power. Use this to disinfect counters, sink, bathroom surfaces, glass, mirrors and just about anything else that needs to be clean! I also clean my hardwood floors with just vinegar and water (sometimes a few drops of lemon essential oil when they really are dirty) and they come out looking great with no harm to the wood or finish!
2. Baking Soda - Fantastic for cleaning the toilet bowl (sprinkle 1/4 cup of baking soda in the bowl, then pour in a cup of vinegar, wait a few minutes before scrubbing the bowl clean and fresh) and perfect for scouring out pots and pans and freshening up the laundry, carpets, pet areas and fridge! To use as a deodorizer, sprinkle onto carpets and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before vacuuming (this will also help with any strange smells that come from your vacuum cleaner) or sprinkle into laundry hampers, diaper pails, the cat box or anywhere else that odors linger. To get soap scum and grime off your shower walls and out of the tub, spray with vinegar and then rub with a generous amount of baking soda until the gunk is gone, then rinse.
3. Lemon Essential Oil - Lemon essential oil makes your home smell fantastic of course, but it is also a powerful cleaner. Dirt and grease seems to just lift easier when this is added to a vinegar/water solution or a mop bucket. Only a few drops are needed for most applications. Lemon essential oil is also used in aromatherapy to brighten the mood and focus the mind. Feel free to add it to your homemade cleaning products anytime you want to lift the grime and your spirits!
4. Lemon Juice - Lemon juice helps lift dirt and is also a deodorizer and disinfectant. Add a teaspoon to your vinegar cleaning solutions to cut the vinegar smell and add additional cleaning power. Lemon juice is also really awesome for getting rid of the lingering smell of garlic and onions on your hands and cutting boards. Just rub some pure lemon juice on your hands or over the cutting board, and poof! No more smelly garlic. To deep clean your cutting boards, rub with lemon juice, then sprinkle a generous amount of salt onto the board and scour out the grooves where nasty germs can linger. To polish your furniture, you can mix 2 tsp lemon juice with 1 tsp olive oil and wipe the mixture lightly and evenly over the surface of the wood. Check the recommendations for your specific type of wood finish before attempting to use a homemade furniture polish, although I will tell you that in my home I don't have anything that I don't clean with homemade products.
I only need four ingredients to do all of my spring cleaning at home, and they are all way more affordable than the various bottles of toxic waste that are sold in stores to "clean" your home. With the exception of the essential oils (it is recommended to keep all essential oils out of the reach of children and pets because they are so highly concentrated and can be toxic in large doses) none of these cleaners are harmful or toxic to children or pets, so you can use them generously and store them anywhere that's convenient.
Here's a few more suggestions for a more sustainable cleaning experience this spring. You will definitely feel good about making changes to your cleaning routine for a healthier family, cleaner home and sustainable environment!
- Use cloth washcloths and towels instead of paper towels or prepackaged wipes. You can buy an affordable pack of towels at a discount store (or make your own), and mark them as cleaning towels or better yet, coordinate a certain color or design for a certain type of cleaning.
- Up-cycle old t-shirts, socks and linens into cleaning towels! Plain white tees that have underarm stains or holes make the most awesome cleaning towels for just about any job because they are soft and absorbent.
- If you are making the transition to natural cleaners for the first time, don't throw away that old Windex bottle! Rinse it out and refill it with vinegar/water solution for multipurpose cleaning. Otherwise you will need at least one PET plastic spray bottle for your homemade cleaners. These can be found affordably at big box stores in the cleaning and gardening aisles.
- Use a mop instead of those disposable wiping pads for cleaning your floors. It's really not that much more difficult to run some water in a bucket and pour in a little vinegar, right!? Even more points if you use a mop head that you can wash and reuse!
- Recycle plastic shopping bags into garbage bags or pet waste disposal bags. I don't remember the last time I paid money for any type of garbage bag. I just hoard all the plastic bags I get from shopping, and they fit perfectly in the small size kitchen and bathroom trash cans. If you run low in between shopping trips, ask your neighbors! Some people have so many bags around that they are happy to unload some on you.