Back-to-Basics Spring Cleaning - A more Natural Approach 🍋

Safer for your Family easy DIY Cleaning Supplies you probably have at home

By Jodi Lorence / Brenna Gutell March 18, 2024
As the weather warms up and we hear even more birds chirping outside our window - it's a reminder that it must be time for spring cleaning. There are many simple ingredients you probably already have in your home that you can use to clean and freshen your house without chemicals. The bonus is these simple and natural DIY cleaners are safer for your family and your pets. Another plus is your kids can help with most cleaning with less worries using these simple cleaning solutions.

Please note:  Even natural and safer non-toxic products require proper use and taking precautions especially around children.

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Fresh Lemons
When life gives you lemons, clean with them! Add some drops of lemon juice to some warm water to soak yellowing fingernails after taking nail polish off. A few tablespoons added to one cup of water in a spray bottle is an excellent window cleaner and great spray for cleaning countertops, etc. As a laundry brightener add some lemon juice to your clothes load. Don’t forget when you are done with the lemons, cut them up and put them down your sink for your disposer to chop up. Now you have less germs and a great smelling drain.

Baking Soda
A non-toxic product for not only cooking and baking, but cleaning. Sprinkle baking soda on a wet cloth to scrub surfaces in the kitchen and the bathroom, let stand and then rinse. Soak stained and smelly plastic food containers in a mixture of water and baking soda. Remove scuff marks from floors with a mixture of baking soda and water. To remove odors from carpeting and upholstery, sprinkle baking soda on the area and let sit, then vacuum after 20 minutes. Add baking soda to your laundry by removing half the detergent you would use and adding that amount of baking soda. Your laundry will stay fresher than without it.
Don’t forget to add an open box to your refrigerator and freezer. Write down the date you put it in there and then replace every month. What a great way to keep your refrigerator / freezer odor free and help keep the smell of different foods from transferring. You can get rid of coffee / tea stains in cups by putting 1 part baking soda with 2 parts water and soak your cups 6 to 8 hours, then wipe out with a washcloth, wash and rinse.

Distilled white vinegar
Distilled white vinegar is a versatile non-toxic cleaner - helpful for many of your household needs. If you don’t like the smell of vinegar, add some lemon juice to your spray bottle. Distilled white vinegar inhibits the growth of mold and mildew and also some bacteria such as E. Coli and salmonella. Use on walls in the bathroom and shower full strength or dilute with equal parts of warm water and put in a spray bottle to wash windows. Pour some in the bottom of your dishwasher to get rid the food smells and clean the inside of your dishwasher, while at the same time removing hard water spots on your dishes. Add to your washing machine to refresh a load that you forgot about. Add soap and run your load once again. It will clean your washing machine at the same time. Pour equal parts of vinegar and water in your coffee pot to clean out hard water deposits for fresher coffee: pour the mixture in the water reservoir for your coffee maker and start the brew cycle, stopping the machine halfway through the cycle. Let sit for about an hour, then turn the coffee pot back on to run the rest of the mixture through the machine. Follow up with a few pots of clear water to rinse the vinegar from the reservoir and the machine. Do this often for a longer lasting machine and fresher coffee. Clean non-wax floors by adding ½ cup vinegar to ½ gallon warm water for spotless shiny floors. You can also clean out your refrigerator, disinfect cutting boards and kitchen surfaces with this same solution. Cleaning with distilled white vinegar is endless.

Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a very cheap, efficient, and non-toxic cleaner as well. It can be used as a deodorizer and a disinfectant. Here are some ways to use the 3% hydrogen peroxide in cleaning. Add to a spray bottle and disinfect surfaces such as your countertops in the bathroom and kitchen, allow time for the liquid to bubble and do its thing and then wipe off with a washcloth. Clean out your refrigerator and microwave with it, along with cleaning toys in your playroom and any surface including door handles that you would like to disinfect. Pour a half of a cup per gallon of warm water to scrub the floor. There is no need to rinse because it is so mild. For the toilet, pour a half of a cup in, let sit and flush. Also pour on bathroom grout as an easy cleaner and whitener. Let it bubble and then wipe clean.

Castile Soap
This soap has been used for hundreds of years - originally made from olive oil you can find it made now from a variety of vegetable oil. Castile soap is definitely a “green” cleaner because it is biodegradable and eco-friendly. It can be used for many things from personal care to washing your car, as a surface cleaner, patio furniture cleaner, and to clean almost anything around the house. Mix ¼ cup of Castile soap with one gallon of water to clean linoleum floors, countertops and other surfaces. Also cleans grease from stove top. Its uses are endless. Read more about this versatile ingredient. 

To start with, cornstarch is 100% pure! It is a great carpet cleaner. If you have any grease stains, sprinkle cornstarch over the spots, let sit for 30 - 40 minutes and vacuum it up. For grease stains on clothing, sprinkle cornstarch on the stain and then wash the article of clothing in the washing machine. To polish your silver, make a paste with cornstarch and water, rub it on the silver and then polish with a soft cloth.

I found that white toothpaste - not gel, was great to fill small holes in your walls from nails. Use a putty knife and fill the holes, wipe off the excess and let dry. Now you can repaint if you want. Toothpaste also works to wipe scuff marks off your kitchen floor, your doors, or walls. It works on stained fabric as well. Put the toothpaste on the stain and rub the fabric together on the stain, let stand for a bit and then wash it in the washing machine. Toothpaste can also be used to shine your chrome fixtures in the bathroom, clean out baby bottles from nasty milk smells, and you can also scrub your fingernails with it. You can use the whitening paste for an added bonus when cleaning.

Table Salt
Use salt on a spill in your stove. Once it cools down, you will be able to wipe it all up much easier. It is a good product to have on hand to clean up your soap scum messes. Fill the sink with hot water and ½ cup of salt. Let sit and then drain. Not only will it remove the built up soap scum but it will help to clean out the drain. Add some salt to glasses that are water stained and let sit, wash, and then rinse for no more hard water stain.

Fels-Naptha Soap
Fels-Naptha bar soap is best used for oil stains on articles or upholstery in the home. On use a washcloth to rub some soap on the stain and let sit for a bit, then rinse off. Do the same to scrub the shower to get rid of soap scum. Wash your hands with the soap to get rid of ink, grease or other stains.

Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol
A great cleaner for marble countertops, use to clean off your phones since they gather lots of germs. It also removes permanent marker from surfaces, disinfects and cleans computer keyboards, is a great window cleaner when mixed with water (equal parts water and rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle), a great white board cleaner, and can be used to clean the sticky residue left by price tags, stickers, etc. 
⚠️ Use Caution:  Just remember it is not safe to drink, should be used in a ventilated area, and not around flames.

Borax as a cleaner can be used to get rid of bed bugs by sprinkling on your mattress, let sit and then vacuum it up. Clean pots and pans by mixing one teaspoon of borax with water to get rid of the tough-to-clean spots. Sprinkle on the carpet to get rid of fleas, let sit and then vacuum up. Add some to every wash load to boost the cleaning power of your washing machine. Clean your kitchen sink and drain of your disposer by scrubbing your sink with borax and water and then put ½ cup down the drain and let sit for 15-20 minutes, then run the disposer. Now you not only have a clean sink, but your drain is disinfected and smells fresh. Dilute ¼ cup borax in ½ gallon water and apply with a spray bottle to kill mildew, also let Borax sit in toilet overnight to remove any rust stains, flush and the stains are gone! 
⚠️ Use Caution:  Borax can be useful around the house, but be sure to understand the concerns and take needed precautions before using it. Use care around children, pets and food, take care not to inhale the powder as it can irritate lungs and skin with prolonged use.
I hope you have found some useful tips that you can use in your spring and year-round cleaning. Your home will be clean and you will feel good using the products that you did.

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Written byJodi Lorence, publisher for Macaroni KID in MN

Updated and edited by B. Gutell, publisher for Macaroni KID Conejo Valley - Malibu - Calabasas