I love me some spring cleaning. Admittedly, I just love cleaning — it’s long been my go-to stress reliever. When I got pregnant and started reading up on relevant environmental considerations I started paying attention to what products I was using, opting for eco-friendly ones (non-toxic, biodegradable, etc.) instead of harsher conventional ones. Only problem is that the high-quality “green” products are usually prohibitively expensive. While it’s important to me that my go-to products are non-toxic and natural, budget is a huge consideration, as it is for most families these days.
In the March issue of Martha Stewart Living, home editor Anthony Santelli points out that you really only need five products to clean your entire home (and a few choice tools, of course). His “dream team” consists of glass and surface cleaner, multi-surface cleaner, dish soap, powder cleaner, and white vinegar. With the exception of the last one, which truly is a “household MVP,” I dare say you can condense that list even more by using a handful of products already found in your kitchen. Making your own cleaners may take a few more minutes out of the gate, but it’s the cheapest way to go without cutting corners.
Instead of powder cleanser: Try baking soda which works like a charm on ceramic, stainless steel, porcelain, and countertops.
Instead of glass cleaner: Try mixing ¼ cup rubbing alcohol, ¼ cup white vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch into 2 cups of warm water. Shake well in a spray bottle and have at it. (Some frugality/homesteading bloggers recommend doing a final wipe with a piece of dry black-and-white newsprint for a perfect, streak-free finish).
Instead of multi-surface, all-purpose cleaner: Dilute white vinegar in water (50/50). For tougher stains and spots you can add a touch of laundry, dish soap, or ammonia to the mix. (Check out 1001 Uses for White Distilled Vinegar for tons of effective ways to clean with white vinegar. I use it for laundry, to remove mold from sippy cup crevices and bath toys, and clean the inside of my teapot.)
Add a few drops of essential oil or fresh-squeezed lemon juice to any homemade cleaners to give them a pleasant smell. Thieves oil (a blend of clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus, and rosemary) is an ideal booster since it has strong anti-bacterial properties and smells delish.