Natural spring cleaning solutionsBRITTANY BERRENS: While I enjoy a thorough scrubbing of the house once in a while, the thought of using those super smelly all-purpose cleaning products from the grocery store is not something I enjoy.
By: Brittany Berrens, Lake County News-Chronicle
Spring cleaning time is upon us. I’m one of those strange breeds that love to spend an entire day with the windows open, playing some good music, and cleaning until I can’t stand it anymore.
While I enjoy a thorough scrubbing of the house once in a while, the thought of using those super smelly all-purpose cleaning products from the grocery store is not something I enjoy. Frankly, I don’t like having the house smell like a chemistry experiment on lemon-scented steroids by the time I’m done cleaning. And the thought of what’s in some of those cleaners makes me wonder how safe it is to be inhaling those fumes all day.
So I like to clean the au naturel way. No, I’m not talking about scrubbing the bathroom in the buff —although whatever spring cleaning wardrobe you choose is really up to you — I’m talking about using homemade cleaning solutions made with products that are non-toxic and earth-friendly.
Better yet, a lot of these cleaning solutions can be made with things that are probably already in your household. Pair that with an essential oil of your choice, and you’ve got customizable cleaning products that are cheap, easy, and safe.
My favorite homemade cleaning supply recipes utilize essential oils. These oils can be purchased from most natural stores such as Whole Foods Co-op on Fourth Street in Duluth or at The Green Mercantile on Superior Street in downtown Duluth. Essential oils are highly concentrated liquids that are distilled from plant parts such as leaves, root, or bark; they very in scents and prices. Some can be found for as cheap as $3 a bottle while others can cost around $18, depending on the oil.
Some of my favorite varieties are sandalwood, cedar, lemongrass, lavender, and tea tree. While hundreds of oils to choose from, you can see how making your own cleaners can be kind of fun, as opposed to picking up a bleach-scented cleaner from the grocery story.
Here are a few basic household cleaner recipes from www.natural-healthy-home-cleaning-tips.com that contain essential oils
Mix ¼ cup baking soda, 1 teaspoon vinegar, and six drops of lemon essential oil together to make a paste. Apply the paste to the inside of your microwave with a sponge, rinse with water, and leave the microwave door open to dry. The baking soda helps to eliminate food odors, while the essential oil leaves a pleasant, non-chemical smell.
Wood floor cleaner
Mix ¼ cup of white vinegar to a bucket of water. Add five to ten drops of lemon, pine, spruce, or cedar essential oils to the water and vinegar mixture. Use a mop to evenly spread the mixture over the floor, like you would Pine-Sol or another commercial brand hard wood floor cleaner.
Mix 16-20 drops of your favorite essential oil to one cup of baking soda. Place in a covered container overnight to allow the oils to be absorbed. Sprinkle the mixture over your carpets and vacuum.
Wood furniture polish
Mix ¼ cup of white distilled vinegar, ¼ cup of water, ½ teaspoon of liquid castile soap, and five drops of jojoba or olive oil. Use a sponge to apply the mixture to well-used wood furniture and dry with a soft cloth.
There are many recipes from www.greenlivingideas.com that feature a specific essential oil — tea tree oil. This oil has antiseptic properties, and a very strong scent. A few drops of this oil really go a long way, and it is inexpensive. Because it also has antifungal properties, tea tree oil works well for killing mold and mildew and works well as a bathroom cleaner.
To make a basic tea tree oil cleaner, mix 2 teaspoons of tee tree oil and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake the bottle to mix the two ingredients and spray onto problem areas. The scent of tea tree oil can be very strong, but will fade.
These are just a selection of recipes that can be made using essential oils and other natural products. For even more cleaning solutions instructions, visit the websites I previously mentioned.
What better way to do some spring cleaning this year with natural products that are safe for you and your home. Better yet, those essential oils you use in your cleaning solutions can also sometimes be used for spa treatments like a post-cleaning hand soak. What could be better than that?
Brittany Berrens is editor of the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors, Minn.