Natural Spring Cleaning

Cleaning house is never the most appealing activity on my list of things to do, but recently I have been experimenting with more natural cleaners and I have to say, it hasn’t made the experience worse! 😉 I’ve always felt a little funny about the cleaning products that require you to ventilate, wear rubber gloves, use a gas mask, etc while using their products …and I became especially aware of these effects when I was pregnant with my first child (there are certain cleaners you should just NOT use while you’re growing a human being!). Also, now that my first baby is a toddler I’m even more aware of what fumes I’m putting in the air and what chemicals I’m putting on surfaces that are at toddler (mouth) level.

The bathroom in our house is extremely small and has no windows, so this was the most obvious area of concern, but I was also asking myself – Do I really need an entire cabinet filled with random, “specific” cleaning products with who-knows-what ingredients that I can’t even use while I’m preggo??? I’ve also never really liked the smell of vinegar (childhood memories of my mom “ruining” Cedar Point french fries by drowning them in the stuff!). However, the benefits were pretty enticing…

  • No harsh smells or chemical residue (for pregnant women, children, or anyone!)
  • No paranoid wondering if I am using/disposing of products in a safe manner
  • No unorganized cabinet filled with an assortment of chore-specific products
  • No nagging fear that my toddler is going to “break” into said cabinet & make herself a cocktail
I recently picked up the book Little House in the Suburbs from the library and they have an entire chapter devoted to Natural Home Cleaners. It has been very informative & the remainder of this post is credited to them!

They explain that the most important thing to remember when desiring a clean house is the acronym TACT: Temperature (warmer the better), Agitation (“elbow grease”), Chemistry (stronger the chemistry the better the clean), and Time (letting it “soak in”). All these components add to the cleanliness of whatever chore you are tackling.

However, most of the products on the market these days are meant to work: at cold or room temperature, with little or no elbow grease, and with little or no wait time! So which of the four factors does that leave out? CHEMISTRY.  Sorry if this seems a little obvious to you but that was a serious “ah ha!” moment for me. There are plenty of natural products, oils, minerals, acids, etc that have the chemistry necessary to clean everyday grime & bacteria…I may just have to put in a little extra time & care into really getting something clean. What a trade-off!

Some Basic Ingredients for a Natural Clean:

  • Full-strength vinegar (tough jobs)
  • Diluted vinegar (infused with tea tree oil or citrus peels!)
  • Baking soda (scours & can be added to vinegar for a fizzy clean)
  • Lemons (I’ve also used grapefruit – and not just the juice! Next time use half a lemon to scrub out your kitchen sink – smells like heaven!)
  • Borax & Castile soap (a natural mineral & veg-based soap)
  • Tea tree oil (natural anti-bacterial & has a pleasant aroma)
This week I tried infusing some basic white vinegar with orange peels (thank you, Pinterest). I’m not going to lie and say it no longer smelled like vinegar, but it did have a more pleasant aroma. Also, I’m finding that I’d rather smell vinegar, open some windows, and light a candle than feel the need to quarantine a part of my house from my toddler so she doesn’t breathe the fumes.

Don’t get me wrong, somedays I have the urge to just drench the bathtub with bleach …or scour the toilet with ammonia and who cares if I splash some on my clothes I will probably have to patch the burn hole …those are places that you just do NOT want bacteria to stick around. However, I think adding the heat, agitation, time components will help me feel more confident that I’m really getting the tough jobs clean…AND I’m happy to say vinegar is the new smell of clean around here!

Happy cleaning! 🙂

PS: Woke up at 4am to pee and couldn’t go back to sleep…so, obviously, it was appropriate to get up and write a post about natural cleaning. I think this takes “nesting” to a whole new level.

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Update: We also like Charlie’s for all of our cloth diaper laundry (I’ve also begun using it for everything else!) and sometimes I get Bon Ami which is basically a mineral-based scrubber – really cheap & only 5 natural ingredients. 

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