Natural products for spring cleaning

Spring Cleaning the Natural Way

by Linda Shapero

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Well, it was bound to happen. Spring has sprung, and it's time to get out the mops, brooms, sponges, and dust cloths. And don't forget all the cleaning products you'll need like wall cleaner, glass spray, oven cleaner, carpet freshener, grease remover, and more. If you don't already have most of these on hand, shopping for them can cause quite a dent in your wallet. Plus, you're adding all kinds of chemicals to your home. Is there a natural way to spring clean?

Yes, there's an easy way to save money and use natural products for spring cleaning. I'm referring to items you probably have around the house already, such as white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, and a few others that may surprise you. These items are natural and safer for your family if used correctly.

Let's take a look at some of the things you'll be cleaning and what you can use just as effectively as store-bought cleaners. (I will compare some of the items with the homemade alternatives to show you just how much you can save.)

Walls and Stovetops - Walls can get grimy over the long winter season, particularly kitchen walls. To degrease them the natural way, use full strength white vinegar directly on a damp sponge or cloth. It will cut through the grease easily and leave the walls clean and fresh. (Compare Spic and Span at about $.17 an ounce to store brand white vinegar at a little more than $.03 an ounce.) But remember that you will surely use less vinegar, which will lower your cost even further.

Windows and Glass Surfaces - In a medium-sized spray bottle, mix 1/2 cup of vinegar and 1/2 cup of isopropyl alcohol. Fill the rest of the bottle with water. You can add more alcohol to cut down on drying time. (Compare Windex ounce for ounce, and you will be spending $1.90 for about 16 ounces of Windex rather than $.34 for our mixture.) For further savings, use newspapers (no colored pages) instead of paper towels for shining streak-free windows.

Rust Stains - Those ugly rust stains you find around sink drains and even outside on cement can be removed with a paste made of salt and hydrogen peroxide. Just mix to a paste consistency, apply, and leave on for about an hour. Rinse, and if stains persist, repeat. (CLR at the store will cost you $.28 an ounce. Compare it to $.05 an ounce for the salt and peroxide mix.)

Ovens - Dirty ovens are no fun to clean, and the cost of a can of spray oven cleaner is no fun, either. For a natural oven cleaner make a baking soda and water paste and smear it on the oven's interior. If the oven is very dirty, you can leave it on overnight. You may also need to scrub some areas with steel wool. Rinse using cold water and dry. (Easy-Off costs almost $.28 per ounce. Baking soda costs less than $.08 an ounce.)

Pet Stains - Urine odors from pets are not only annoying and embarrassing but can draw your pets to a repeat performance. Use 1/4 cup of white vinegar in one quart of water. Spray on carpet, blot, and let dry. (Resolve Pet Stains costs about $.21 an ounce compared to $.03 an ounce for the vinegar.)

Carpets - Sprinkle cornstarch on rugs and carpets, wait about 15-30 minutes and vacuum. Woolite Oxy Deep costs $.19 per ounce compared to cornstarch, which costs about $.12 an ounce.)

Sticky Residue - Price stickers that are invariably placed on the glass of picture frames and mirrors can be removed with a small amount of peanut butter or nail polish remover.

Silver - For small items, use toothpaste on a toothbrush. Apply, brush, and rinse off.

Ink Stains - Try hairspray (or cream of tartar and water to create a paste, if you have it on hand), then wash the garment.

Cutting Boards - To clean and freshen a cutting board, cut a lemon in half, apply all over the board, and rinse with water. Air dry.

Try Crystal Wash. 1000 loads of laundry - no detergents, no dyes, no chemicals, no perfumes.

Water Rings on Wood - Try rubbing a little mayonnaise or toothpaste on the ring until it disappears. Then polish.

Mini-Blinds - Double a piece of white bread and run it over each slat until it comes up dirty. Discard and use a new piece.

Fireplace - To get rid of the soot and grime that comes with using the fireplace all winter, take an art gum eraser and start erasing. Vacuum up crumbs from the eraser.

And remember store all your purchased and natural cleaning products where children and pets can't get into them.

Updated March 2015

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