It maybe Spring cleaning time for many of you in the northern hemisphere, but that doesn’t mean us folks living down south can get away not cleaning our homes this time of year, especially if you have to move house like I do. I’m afraid it is something we can’t avoid.
There are a few jobs I leave until I really have to do them (like cleaning the oven), but of course that can make them a lot harder to deal with. For most people they will resort to a concoction of chemicals, thinking this will remove the stubborn stains far quicker and leave your surfaces like new. But all it is doing is leaving a toxic residue to build up in your home and in your family. You may be surprised at how affective some of the natural cleaners can work.
Now before you start there are a few things you should do:
Crank up your favourite music. This will keep you moving and make the experience more enjoyable (you might end up doing a Tom Cruise dance around the house). As long as I have music going, I can get into my stride quiet easily. Also, rope the rest of the family into the clean-up, after all you are not the only one living in the house. I know there will be some moaning and groaning, but if you set a challenge to have the clean-up done by a certain time or to see who can do the best at cleaning competition, you might get some support, particularly if there is a prise at the end (ice-cream anyone).
And remember it might take a few days to cover all the cleaning. So tackle one area at a time. That way you will feel you have accomplished something.
Some of my cleaning essentials.
1. Get organised
It is surprising how much stuff we accumulate over time, hiding stuff in cupboards saying “we will deal with that later”. If we plan to do a spring clean we need to consider the words reduce, reuse and recycle. Go through all your cupboards and storage spaces and assign to some cardboard boxes, bags or tote boxes – one pile reduce, one reuse and another recyle. You need to be brutal, as you have some stuff you don’t use and never will. Can it be donated, brought to the recycling tip, made use of elsewhere or does it just need to go.
Examples of what you can do:
Donate – can someone else find a use for those clothes you never wear, books and magazines you have read, the extra kitchen gadgets you have, the kids old toys and the extra containers lying around the house. I’m sure that op shops, charities or even a friend in need will only be too grateful.
Reuse – garden pots, buckets, sprayer bottles are some of things that can be reused. I like using some jugs for flower displays. That old wheelbarrow with a hole in it’s base makes for a lovely flower display. Biscuit tins for your button collection. Plastic bottles to germinate/protect plants. Just have a look at some of the stuff that is not being used and see if you make another use it elsewhere.
Recycle – Once you have decided on what you are keeping and reusing, sort out the items for recycling. All paper rubbish should be kept together, broken glass in a pile, recyclable plastic together and then all your old electronics. You can dispose of some these in your recycling waste, some at hard rubbish collection and the rest you will have to bring to a recycling centre.
If you have anything left after that, it will need to go into the rubbish collection, but try to make this as small as possible. After that, it is time to roll up the sleeves and to remove the dirt and grime. Brushes at the ready!
2. Make your own Cleaning Rags
Often we have a few scratchy towels that no one wants to use anymore. Just cut them up into the sizes you need. No need to take out the sewing machine – most terrycloth towels won’t unravel. It’s far better for the planet than using disposable paper towels.
Also, old tea shirts are great for rubbing down more delicate areas that we want to avoid scratching.
3. Let the world in
Open up some windows. After the winter many houses can smell a bit stale, especially if they haven’t been ventilated throughout the winter. It is surprising how opening a few windows can freshen up the house, but also put you in a better mood.
4. Elbow grease
I wish there was an easier way, but I’m afraid some effort has to go into removing dirt. Your best help in this area is good old hot water and a few drops of detergent. This will clean the grime off most surfaces.
For carpet spot stains, gently rubbing in some dish washing detergent and leave for a minute. Remember in most cases the stain is sitting on top, so we don’t want to push it further into the carpet. Then place a dry cloth onto the stained area, press down to soak up the stain and detergent, don’t rub (this will ruin the pile).
5. No-Scrub Oven Cleaner
As I said I hate tackling the burnt-on mess that can be found in most ovens. Sprinkle baking soda on the base of the oven and dampen with water. I make sure I make enough paste not only to cover the base, but to place on any burnt-in stains on the side of the oven. Leave for a few hours or even better, overnight. Then just wipe out the mess and spray on vinegar to remove any baking soda residue left behind. If the stains are particularly stubborn, I repeat this, but replacing the water with vinegar to form the paste.
6. Fresh Lemons anyone?
Fridges, pantries and cupboards can end up with a mixture of garlic/onion/ smelly socks /wet dog smells. Phew! To eliminate some of these nasty smells naturally, simply cut a lemon in half and strategically place in the nasty odour areas for a few hours or overnight.
You can also simmer lemon peel in a little water. This will leave a lovely lemony aroma around the kitchen or wherever you sit the pot – just make sure it is in a safe place and won’t burn anyone or anything. Another tip I got for fridges, is when you have finished cleaning it, get a clean cloth and moisten slightly with vanilla essence. You can wipe this all over the clean inside surfaces of the fridge to freshen the smell.
In my house dusting is the job of the kids, but I do a quick check on what they have done. A great use of odd socks is to use them as dusters. Just simply place one over your hand like a glove and use it to dust surfaces around the house. It works inside out as textured inside tends to pick up more fluff and dust.
8. Essential oils
I love eucalyptus oil. It is great for removing some of that sticky grime, especially the stuff you find on cooktops and extraction hoods.
If you find after soaking your jars or bottles that the label still remains or you have sticky glue, use some eucalyptus oil. Apply a few drops onto cotton wool and rub to remove the sticky label or glue. After cleaning stainless steel kitchenware, I use a few drops of the eucalyptus oil on a cloth to buff out any streaks and make them shine. Always do a spot check before applying the oil all over your cooktop or fridge. Also, remember it is an oil, so never leave excess wherever you produce a flame. We don’t want a fire starting.
Tea tree oil is great for disinfecting, especially in the toilet area. Wipe on toilet handle and seats. Also it leaves a lovely smell.
9. Still need a helping hand
We know everyone has busy lives and sometimes don’t want to think about preparing a homemade cleaner or don’t like the smells they produce. Well, you can buy your green cleaning supplies here at earthly passion. We supply biodegradable, non-toxic, food safe products, that won’t harm you, your family or the environment. Check them out in our shop under earthly passion home http://bit.ly/1XW8S6J
We hope these tips have helped you. Feel free to ask us questions and to make comments. We would love to hear what you are using around the house.
OK, I better get back to packing. Keep it earthly passionate.