Spring Cleaning Part Two: The Recipes

Before we get started here, let me add a quick plug.  I’d like to introduce my new political blog, Yankee Doodle Sweetheart!  Here at a Rhinestone World, I will keep yapping about movies, domesticity, books, and the like.  At Yankee Doodle Sweetheart, I will get my politic on, y’all.  Check it out!

Okay, moving onto Spring Cleaning.  Today I want to talk about formulations.  As a special treat, I have an extra cleaning to do to add to my plan.  A cat threw up on Will this morning!  Well, the duvet cover, rather.  We did some early mornin’ pre-treating, but the bulk of the cleaning will happen tonight.  Luckily, I have a backup duvet cover for moments such as this.  I’m trying to decide how to attempt to clean the horribleness.  Bleach is a no go, because the duvet cover is print.  I’m thinking an oxygen bleach might do it, with some baking soda for good measure (and deodorizing.)

This illustrates a point. When making your own cleaning products, you have to discern what is right for you.  There are many many recipes for specific types of cleaners.  You have to suss out what’s right for you, what ingredients you have, and other similar considerations.  A golden rule to follow is to use the least potent formulation that will get the job done.  Why use bleach when lemon juice will do?  It’s safer for fabric.  Safer for you.

What follows are some my favorite recipes and ways you can tweak them.

Let’s go room by room.

First, the Kitchen:

While we all have different kitchens with different sinks and countertops and appliances, we all have the same goal: to kill germs.  Stone, marble, wood, and plastic countertops all have different needs and things to avoid.  I am not an expert on this subject.  Consult someone who is if you have really awesome countertops.  I do not have really awesome countertops.  Since salmonella, e. coli, lysteria, and a whole bunch of other nasty germs can inhabit a kitchen, a little power is required here.  A simple solution of 1 part water to 1 part bleach is sufficient to kill most bacteria.  While this formula is a great germ killer, it’s not the best grease cutter.  So, for cleaning a cooktop or range, try this:

In a sprayer, combine:
3 tbs. vinegar
3 tbs. borax
drop of dishsoap (or other liquid soap.  Even handsoap will do.  The goal is to emulsify)
warm water about 2/3 to the top of the sprayer
10-20 drops tea tree oil

Shake and spray.  The Vinegar will cut the grease.  The tea tree oil is antiseptic.  It’s all earth-friendly, and cheap as hell.

Now, if you’ve got seriously baked on grease happening, or a cook top that hasn’t been cleaned in awhile, you may need to break out the big guys.  That means ammonia.  NOTE:  DO NOT MIX AMMONIA WITH BLEACH.  You will keel over from the fumes.  So, use that bleach spray way later.  WAY later.

POTENT DEGREASER

1/2 cup ammonia
2 tbs. baking soda
1 Cup of White vinegar

That will cut through just about anything.  If you’re still having trouble, let it soak for awhile.  That is a potent combo.

BATHROOM

I like to use Bon Ami on the tub and the sink.  No, it’s not a make at home recipe, but it is environmentally friendly and many manufacturers recommend it.  Give it a whirl.  Otherwise, table salt is a great gentle abrasive.  Make it into a paste with lemon juice or dishsoap.

For toilets, it’s another round of “How bad is it?”  I’ll tell you this, I’ve moved into many an apartment over the years and some of the toilets have had what I thought were completely immovable stains, but they all proved to be absolutely temporary if I used the right product.  The real key, is how willing are you to get close?    Gloves make all the difference.  Have a pair especially for the bathroom.  Even try a mask if you want more protection.  Hell, wear a biohazard suit.  Whatever it takes for you to feel protected.

Let’s go from not bad at all to absolutely awful:

Daily toilet cleaner:  A little sploosh of borax and a quick run around with a toilet brush is sufficient to clean a toilet for a single person or a couple.  If more than 1 or 2 folks are using a toilet per day, try this:

Put 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 10 drops tea tree oil into the toilet.  Give a round with the toilet brush, and that’s it.  (You could do this every couple days if you want to save on the tea tree oil. )

For a weekly clean, you can try this overnight cleaner:

1 cup borax
1 cup vinegar
10 drops pine or lavender essential oil
5 drops lemon or lime essential oil
Combine in a bowl.  Dump in the toilet, making sure you get it up under the rim and along the bowl as well as in the bowl.  Leave it overnight.  In the morning, flush.

Now, if you move into an apartment and the toilet is absolutely horrifying, don your biohazard suit and try this:

Mix up a batch of potent lemonade.  It can be country time, it can be real.  Doesn’t matter.  What you want is the citric acid.  Grab a bucket and take out most of the water in the bowl (you can flush it back down in a little bit.  Once the bucket is empty, give it a rundown with that bleach and water spray.)  Dump in the lemonade.  Grab some paper towels and soak them in the lemonade (I know, it’s gross.  But it works.)  Paper mache the inside of the toilet with the lemonade soaked towels.  And walk away.  Just walk away.  For 20 minutes.  Then come back, remove the paper towels, and throw them out (Don’t flush ’em.  You will have a clog to end all clogs.)  Now, take a pumice stone and dip it in the lemonade.  (Don’t worry.  It won’t scratch.  Pumice is softer than porcelain.)  Now, start scratching away the worst stains.  Once they are out, flush.  Now.  You could leave it at that.  I would pour in a tablespoon of bleach and give it a little more hell with a brush.  YOu can also pour salt onto half a lemon and scrub under the rim.

You are officially everyone’s hero.

Living Spaces are the most fun to clean.  You get to think more about scent and nourishing wood furniture, etc.  A lot of the formulations for living spaces depend heavily on one question:  Do you like citronella?  Well, do ya, punk?  If you do, purchase some Murphy’s oil soap.  It will clean everything except glass.  If you don’t, meet my Momma.   She doesn’t either.

So, let’s assume you don’t.  With a little bit o’H2O and a microfiber cloth, you can dust anything.  If your wood needs a polish, so to speak, you can try2 tbs. olive oil mixed with 2 tsp. lemon juice and 4 drops lavender oil.  This year, I am going to try a linseed oil, turps, and beeswax combo, but I haven’t test-driven it yet.  Plus, it’s arguably spontaneously combustible.

You can do windows with 1 part water, 1 part vinegar and crumpled up newspapers.

Try two cups of corn starch, 2 cups of baking soda, and 20 drops of essential oil as a carpet refresher.  Sprinkle on.  Let it sit, then vacuum it up.

Another recipe I am test driving this year is an “Almost dry clean” mattress formula.  I am actually going to use it on some arm rest covers that are filthy.  If it doesn’t work or destroys them, I am fine with it.  I was going to pitch them.  But if it does work, I will let you know.

Obviously, these recipes don’t cover every job on my spring cleaning agenda.  But they are a little sample of how natural cleaning products are put together.

Tomorrow:  I share The Plan!

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