Of course we all like to keep our homes tidy year-round, but when the first warm days of spring invite us to fling open our windows and doors, we often feel compelled to refresh our homes by cleaning a few areas that don’t get daily or weekly attention. We offer lots of recipes for daily house cleaners in Natural Home & Garden, but what about those once- or twice-a-year spots that get overlooked much of the time. Use these three recipes for a house as fresh as the spring air.
1. Wall Wash
Most of us don’t need to wipe down our walls weekly or even monthly, but over time dark spots and dirt can build up on walls. Often we don’t even notice it until we start taking a closer look! Use this easy method to give your walls a once-over:
1 quart warm water
1⁄4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons biodegradable liquid soap (such as castile soap)
2 soft cloths
Remove excess dust from walls using a soft towel wrapped around the head of a broom. Mix ingredients in a clean, nonreactive bucket. Wash walls, beginning from the base and working upward. Working from top to bottom can create streaks. Rinse walls with clear warm water. Use a soft, clean cloth to dry the walls thoroughly (to avoid the possibility of mildew or mold).
For oily stains: Make a paste of 1⁄4 cup baking soda and 1 to 2 tablespoons water. Pat onto the stain with a damp sponge. Let it dry and brush away with a soft dry cloth. Wash as usual.
It can be easy to overlook the interior of our ovens, but it’s wise to clean them once in a while to keep our ovens working at their best. Conventional oven cleaners often contain harsh chemicals, but this effective formula will help your oven shine. Note: If you have lots of baked-on grease or food splatters, you might want to use fine steel wool to scrub those areas.
1/2 cup salt
1/4 cup washing soda
1 box (16 ounces) baking soda
Scant 1/4 cup water
3/4 cup white vinegar
10 drops thyme essential oil
10 drops lemon or lemongrass essential oil
Combine salt, washing soda and baking soda in a glass bowl. Add just enough water to make a paste. Remove oven racks and preheat oven to 250 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave the door open. Carefully spread the paste on oven walls with a sponge or cloth and allow to set for 20 to 30 minutes. Combine the vinegar and essential oils in a spray bottle and shake well. Spray the oven walls and wipe clean. Rinse well.
Recipe excerpted from The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier. Read seven other herbal cleaning recipes from this excellent book here.
3. Window Rinse
Windows are another spot we only take the time to clean occasionally, but sparkling fresh windows can make the whole house feel renewed. Use this chemical-free cleaning mix and the helpful tips below for windows that shine. Take a cue from professional window cleaners and invest in a window squeegee for a waste- and streak-free clean.
2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar
2 quarts water
2 small buckets
1 squeegee clean, lint-free cloths
Fill buckets with warm water. Add white vinegar to one of the buckets and agitate to mix. (The clear water will be your rinse.) Apply cleaning solution with a cloth—which you will use only for that task—and start at the top of the window, working from side to side as you clean. Let stand for a few seconds and rinse with a separate cloth dipped in the clear water. Immediately use your squeegee to remove the water. You will have the least drippy windows if you wipe the squeegee blade with a dry cloth after every pass.
• Never wash windows on a bright day or when the sun has preheated the window. You’ll constantly be fighting glare and streaks.
• To clean corners, use a toothbrush or cotton swab.
• In winter, a few tablespoons of rubbing alcohol in the water will keep it from freezing to the window.
• Crumpled newspaper is terrific for rubbing away streaks.
• If you squeegee from side to side on the window’s inside and up to down on the outside you can easily identify which side the streak is on.