Spring Cleaning

What is spring cleaning? Is it a routine everyone is supposed to do? If so, why?

The best explanation I have heard for what spring cleaning is, and why, is that it is a custom left over from times before electricity, when everything in peopleís houses was covered with soot from candles, fireplaces, kerosene, and lamp oils used for heat and light during the winter. By the spring, every inch of the home had to be cleaned to rid it of the layer of soot. Given that we now use relatively clean methods of heating and lighting it seems the practice of spring cleaning has persisted long after such a cleaning overhaul was needed.

Rational or not, spring cleaning is a tradition many of us still like to do, if for no other reason than to turn over a new leaf, and for this I am offering here some of my favorite nontoxic cleaning recipes. I must say, I do love to get winter dust out of my house when daylight is returning in the spring. There is nothing like the sun streaming in the windows to show all the cobwebs. I like opening the windows and doors to circulate fresh air to chase out the stale indoor air of a closed up house.

All-Purpose Cleaner (Fantastic Cleaner)
1/2 teaspoon washing soda
2 teaspoons borax
1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent
2 cups hot water

Combine the washing soda, borax, and soap in a spray bottle. pour in the hot water (it will dissolve the minerals), screw on the lid, and shake to completely blend and dissolve. Spritz every 6 inches or so of surface once or twice, wiping off the cleanser with a rag as you go. For tough dirt, leave the cleanser on for a few minutes before wiping it off. Shake the bottle each time before using.
Shelf Life: Indefinite
Storage: Leave in a labeled spray bottle

Soft Scrubber
This is one of my most favorite recipes. I use it on the bathtub, sinks, Formica countertops, and the shower stall.

1/2 cup baking soda
Enough liquid soap or detergent to make a frosting like consistency
5 to 10 drops antibacterial essential oil, such as lavender (optional)

Place the baking soda in a bowl; slowly pour in the liquid soap, stirring all the while, until the consistency reaches that of frosting. Add the
essential oil (if using). Scoop the creamy mixture onto a sponge, wash the surface, and rinse.
Shelf Life: Make only as much as you need a time; natural soft scrubbers dry out.

Mold Cleaner and Inhibitor/Tea Tree Treasure
This spray works wonders to eradicate mold and mildew. Iíve used it successfully on a moldy ceiling from a leaking roof, a musty bureau, a
musty rug, and a moldy shower curtain. Tea tree oil is expensive, but a little goes a long way. Unless you have frequent mold crises, this
mixture can last for months.

2 teaspoons tea tree oil
2 cups water

Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle, shake to blend, and spray on problem areas. Do not rinse. The strong odor will dissipate in a day or
Shelf Life: Indefinite
Storage: Leave in a labeled spray bottle

All-Purpose Window Wash
Around Earth Day 1990, every newspaper in the country (or so it seemed) offered recipes for nontoxic cleaners made with basic ingredients that we all have in our kitchen cupboards. The recipe for window cleaner was invariably plain white distilled vinegar and water; the method of drying was with old newspapers. People by the thousands tried this, and many swore off cleaning with homemade products for good because the formula left streaks on their windows.Actually the problem was that the commercial products they had used
for years had left a wax buildup, and vinegar alone wouldnít remove the residue. A dab of dish soap with vinegar and water would have
done the trick, and from then on they could have used plain vinegar.

1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent
2 cups water

Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle, and shake to blend. Spray on, then remove with a squeegee, paper towel, or newspaper.
Shelf Life: Indefinite
Storage: Leave in a labeled spray bottle.

Basic Wood Cleaning Formula
This is a good formula for well-used furniture. The vinegar works wonderfully to pull dirt out of wood.
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent
A few drops jojoba or olive oil.

Combine the ingredients in a bowl, saturate a sponge with the mixture,squeeze out the excess, and wash surfaces. The smell of vinegar will
dissipate in a few hours.
Shelf Life: Indefinite
Storage: Labeled glass jar with a screw top

Floor Cleaner with Fragrant Herbs
This recipe is nice to rid the house of the stale smell of winter.
1/8 cup liquid soap or detergent
1/4 to 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 cup fragrant herb tea (peppermint is great as it adds antibacterial qualities)

Combine ingredients in a pail or bucket. Swirl the water around until it is sudsy. Proceed as normal.
Shelf Life: Discard

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Chris Ray
Chris R6 years ago


Chris Ray
Chris R6 years ago


Aarra Limberlost
Aarra Limberlost9 years ago

I find Washing soda in the same row as the laundry soap in my grocery store, it's usually in a box - kind of like powdered clothes soap.
See Annie's article: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10026.html

Janina Meneghel
Past Member 9 years ago

I'm sorry to be a little ignorant, but could someone tell me what washing soda is a how I can I obtain it. I live in Montreal Quebec. Thanks.

Penelope P.
Penelope P10 years ago