Along with the joys of spring comes the daunting task of spring cleaning. Grateful for warmer weather, we find ourselves reaching over dusty sills and throwing open surprisingly dirty windows. This year, take a cue from Mother Nature and bring a more natural-minded approach to your cleaning.
“In the kitchen it’s not so much about cleaning as killing,” says Leslie Reichert, author of The Joy of Green Cleaning (CreateSpace, 2015) and founder of greencleaningcoach.com. “White vinegar kills 98 percent of bacteria,” she says of her favorite kitchen cleanser. She adds a touch of lemon juice and hydrogen peroxide to further rid surfaces of festering bacteria. A few drops of dish soap also help lift the dirt, and Reichert suggests adding lemongrass essential oil for a fresh scent. (See Reichert’s recipe at right.)
As for those dirty windows obscuring your view of the daffodils? Reichert’s favorite tip is a microfiber cloth and water. Yes, water. “As long as you find the microfiber cloth labeled for windows, you don’t need any solution at all. The ridges in the cloth pick up all the dirt and grime,” she says. “You’ll even notice your windows stay cleaner longer—it’s amazing!”
Disinfecting is always an important goal in the bathroom, and Reichert’s white vinegar formula is a nice option. But what about the shower soap scum and the troubling task of the toilet bowl? Reichert uses her own natural scrub recipe to attack these problem areas. Combine equal parts (1 cup each) of baking soda, table salt and oxygen bleach (versus chlorine bleach). Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for scent. Reichert recommends keeping the scrub in an old Parmesan cheese shaker for easy application.
“Keep in mind you’re never going to totally disinfect your floors,” says Reichert. “So here we’re looking to pick up dust and dirt.” When it comes to floors, the tools are perhaps more important than the cleaning solution. Look for microfiber mop heads that are machine washable. First, sweep or dry-mop the floor to pick up dog hair and dirt. Next, Reichert suggests bucketless mopping: Fill a spray bottle with a combination of warm water and a few drops of multipurpose soap. Use a damp mop and spray each area before mopping.
One need not sacrifice shiny wood furniture when choosing natural cleaners. Reichert has created her own furniture polish to mix up each time she cleans. In a shallow bowl, mix 1 tablespoon each of mayonnaise and olive oil until combined. Gradually add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, making sure the mixture doesn’t separate. Dab a small amount of the mixture onto a dry microfiber cloth. Work the mixture into the wood; then remove with the clean side of the cloth. Finally, buff wood to a beautiful shine.
- 8 ounces white vinegar
- 6 drops tea tree oil, for disinfecting
- 6 drops of any other essential oil, for scent
- 4 ounces vodka or rubbing alcohol
- 4 ounces hydrogen peroxide
- In a spray bottle, mix the vinegar with the oils.
- Add the alcohol and hydrogen peroxide; shake to combine. (The hydrogen peroxide will break down into water when it’s exposed to light. Just top off the container with more hydrogen peroxide right before you are ready to use it again.)
Try These Products
Simple Truth Fresh Mint Cleaning Wipes
Free from chemicals like phosphates, sulfates and ammonia, these wipes are made with organic ingredients and have a pleasant minty scent. Use them to wipe most of your household surfaces; avoid using on unpainted wood.
Mrs. Meyers Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner – Lemon Verbena
With close to 98% naturally derived ingredients, this lemony fresh spray can be used to clean surfaces all over the house, including: countertops, walls, porcelain, finished wood, tile floors, bathroom fixtures, and sealed natural and synthetic stone.
Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner
Patented, biodegradable thyme-oil formula disinfects most household germs, including Influenza A viruses such as H1N1 and the common cold virus. Use in the kitchen and bathroom, also good for floor spills.