Naturally clean

It may feel like winter this week here in the middle section of the country but winter is growing short and the signs of spring are everywhere. In spite of the biting cold the sun feels warmer, the tree buds are bulging and the spring flower bulbs are sticking their heads up.

It will soon be time to invite the freshness of the outdoors in and begin the much-needed ritual of spring house cleaning. Although most of us are not as ritualistic with spring cleaning as our parents or grandparents, nor have the time most of us will engage at least in part in this age-old ritual.

Unfortunately, many of us will end up with a house that has been more nearly fumigated than cleaned. The store shelves -- lined with cleaners of all sorts -- promise to make our job easier while sanitizing surfaces and leaving our house with that fresh clean scent. Personally I want to smell the fresh air -- the budding trees and flowers -- not some chemical out of a bottle. That's not to mention the chemical residues left behind can lead to headache, dizziness, sinus problems, allergy, behavioral problems in young children and skin and allergy symptoms for your pets.

We could elect not to do any cleaning this year, (my personal favorite) or use cleaners that won't harm you, your family or the environment when you're finished. The newer environmentally friendly cleaners do cost a little more but work every bit as well. Or, for pennies on the dollar, make your own environmentally friendly cleaners with simple products you have around the house. The major ingredients: vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice and lemon oil, salt, ammonia and olive oil.

Recipes for natural cleaning:

Baking soda and vinegar make excellent cleaners for many everyday cleaning jobs. Vinegar disinfects and can be used on bathroom surfaces, refrigerators, windows and tile or vinyl floors. Add baking soda to vinegar and you have a foaming cleaner that replaces bathroom scouring powders; it removes soap scum and hard water stains just as well. Sprinkle baking soda on carpets and rugs to remove odors. Place an open box in the refrigerator and freezer to eliminate food odors.

Vinegar and salt make a great copper polish. Adding a tablespoon of white vinegar to the rinse water of your laundry eliminates the need for fabric softener.

Lemon is great for removing berry and wine stains from tablecloths, fabrics, carpets and your hands. Add salt to lemon juice to remove rust stains. To remove perspiration stains, sponge with lemon juice and white vinegar. Make a natural furniture polish out of three parts olive oil, one part white vinegar or two parts olive oil and one part lemon oil or lemon juice. A mixture of equal parts lemon juice and salt or white vinegar and salt work well to remove mildew.

Cedar chips and dried lavender or an orange dotted with whole cloves and wrapped in netting is a good alternative to moth balls. Tansy or basil planted near your deck or outdoor lounge areas detracts mosquitoes.

There are several good books and sources to help you eliminate harsh chemicals from your household. I like The Nontoxic Home by Debra Lynn Dadd or A Minimum Impact Guide To The Home by Greenpeace Action. You can have a clean home and a chemical free home.

Till next time, Rebecca

Uploaded to The Zephyr website March 6, 2002

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