Citrus fruits are actually quite amazing. Not only are they delicious and refreshing to eat they have many other household uses as well. One of their most powerful side uses is their ability to clean your home.
When you have a tough cleaning job you need to do, you may automatically think you need a heavy duty commercial cleaner to get the job done right. Well, not only are those cleaners laden with chemicals that are not healthy for you and your family they are also very harsh and abrasive. Citrus fruits are a cleaning powerhouse that you should consider instead.
The natural ingredients of a citrus fruit can clean just as effectively as harsh, conventional cleaners without the harmful side effects. They are completely biodegradable and safe for use in your home. You never need to worry about your child’s exposure to lemons on a floor you just cleaned. And a big bonus is that they smell great too!
Here are just some of the ways you can use citrus to clean your home:
• Clean your garbage disposal and keep it smelling fresh with citrus. Drop a handful of citrus peels (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit) into your garbage disposal and run it with the cold water turned on. The citric acid will help deodorize your disposal and leave it smelling fresh.
• Use citrus as a degreaser wherever you have greasy build-up such as the stove, the outdoor grill, and the garage. Some major cruise ship lines are even using citrus a degreaser for their engine rooms!
• Make a citrus and vinegar all purpose cleaner. Just fill a jar with citrus peels and cover in white vinegar. Let is brew for four weeks, giving it an occasional shake. After four weeks, strain out the peels, dilute, and use to clean stovetops, bathroom surfaces, mirrors, and floors. You can even throw some in the laundry to give your whites a boost.
• Toss some orange or lemon peels in your wood burning fireplace to give the room a nice, fresh smell.
• Remove stains from enamel pots by filling ¾ full of water, adding a handful of citrus peels and boiling for 15 minutes.
• Put a used lemon half in your dishwasher to cut grease on your dishes.
• Use half a lemon to rub stainless steel draining boards and taps. Leave on for a few minutes and then rinse and shine.
• Mix some olive oil and lemon juice together and put in a spray bottle. Use the mixture to clean hard wood furniture, rubbing and then drying with a cloth rag.
• Use lemon juice to clean and shine brass and copper.
• Squeeze a little lemon juice on stained clothing or cloth diapers and set out in the sun to bleach away the stain.
• Mix lemon or lime juice with baking soda and vinegar to create a paste that will cut through soap scum and dissolve grime in bathtubs and sinks.
When life throws a mess your way, break out the lemons!
I actually hate carpet. It is a breeding ground for all kinds of nasty stuff…dirt, dust, mold, allergens, etc. We live in a rental though so we are kind of stuck with what we have. To help keep our home clean and healthy we have some rules about carpet care such as removing shoes when we enter the home, vacuuming often, and reporting or cleaning up spills immediately. We also clean the carpet thoroughly every couple of months. We use a carpet cleaner that you can buy at any home improvement or big box store and we make the cleaning soap ourselves so that we can avoid toxic chemicals.
Here are two easy to make carpet cleaner recipes that are natural and safe for the family…
Natural Carpet Cleaner Recipe
6 qts HOT HOT water
4 teaspoons Dr. Bronner’s castille soap
25-30 drops of essential oil (peppermint, lavender, or tea tree)
30-50 drops GSE (grapefruit seed extract)
1-2 scoops Oxyclean (optional)
This will clean carpets and make them smell wonderful too!
SoapNuts Carpet Cleaner
Simmer a cup of soap nuts in about 4 cups of water, mash the nuts by hand to release the saponins. Drain the liquid using a cheese cloth and pour the liquid concentrate into a glass mason jar. Put a few tablespoons inside your carpet cleaner and voila!
This is the time of year when you will begin to be bombarded with magazine articles and blog posts about spring cleaning. I certainly understand the idea and full support it because after those long winter months cooped up in the house I am more than ready to start fresh and clear the cobwebs. Spring is my favorite season and I am so energized by it that even cleaning is bearable…and seriously, by then I really do have lots of cobwebs to clean.
There is a step that comes before spring cleaning though, at least for me. I call it winter nesting. It begins in early to mid February. The thrill of the holidays is well past gone and the long, dark days are starting to get to me. I am ready for spring but it is still a long way off, or so it seems. I have to get ready for spring gardening and indoor planting. The urge to start cleaning is strong also but logistically I need to declutter and purge first. How can I clean the kitchen when the pantry, the drawers, and the counter tops have all become collection grounds for all manner of items? How can I clean the cobwebs out of the cupboards when things are falling out on me? Yes, this is when the urge to purge comes in.
Before I even think about scrubbing my baseboards with a toothbrush I need to think about how to get rid of the clutter. This year in particular it has bothered me more than usual and I have been asking myself lots of tough questions. Do I REALLY need this? Have I used it or wore it within the past year? Does it enhance my life in some way or just sit there unused and unappreciated? My children have to answer these questions as well. What clothes do not fit me anymore? Can they be passed down to a sibling? Since I haven’t used it in over six months should I sell my 3ds? Kids tend to have a lot of clutter and it is good to teach them to let that go.
Here are some ways to declutter before you get to the deep cleaning…
Wardrobe – Evaluate what you REALLY wear. If you are anything like me you tend to wear the same stuff over and over again, washing it as needed. If you have some good quality basic items then you don’t actually need a whole lot of clothing and you can still look stylish. The No Brainer Wardrobe ebook is a quick read that teaches you how to do this. I highly recommend it. If you haven’t worn something in a long while or you consistently look at some items and then choose something you like “better” then let them go. This goes for clothing you bought in smaller sizes too, hoping that you would lose weight and they would fit someday. Don’t give up on your fitness goals but don’t hang on to clothing you cannot wear either.
Papers – It is tax time so when you are going through papers, receipts, and documents to get them ready for your taxes go a step further and purge the stuff you don’t need. You probably don’t need utility bills from three years ago or user manuals for products that have long been broken or donated. Go through your filing cabinets and desk drawers and do a major purge. Scan some of your receipts and other documents that you need to keep so that you can store them digitally from now on and let go of the physical clutter.
Electronics – We tend to hold on to pricier household items even if we don’t use them anymore. Yet if we use our iPhones and a sounddock to listen to music then we don’t actually need that stereo anymore. If you find it easier to use your phone as an alarm clock then the actual alarm clock can go. Find a place where you can resell these items and earn a small profit. Try places such as ebay and Craigslist. You might be able to earn enough to pay for a professional cleaner to help you with that deep cleaning come spring.
Pantry/Kitchen – Once again it is all about how much you used the items you choose to store in the kitchen. Don’t use the dehydrator or yogurt maker? Let them go. I just let go of my dehydrator and my back up crock pot because they were just dust collectors. I never used them. Go through all your pots, pans, and baking items and see if it makes sense to keep them. Do you need two stock pots? Do you need three muffin tins? Do you actually use all of the spatulas, tongs sets, ladles, and serving spoons you have? It is easy to think that “someday” you may need them but think about it. That is what you say EVERY YEAR and yet another year has passed and you didn’t use them. What does that tell you?
Books – I KNOW how hard it is to get rid of books. You always imagine that you will read them again or need to use them for reference but years pass and they never get read again and you didn’t even touch them. With excellent public libraries at our disposal though there is no reason to hang on to fiction books for years and years that you think you might someday read again. If you truly do want to read it again, you can borrow it. If it is a recipe book go through and see how many recipes you actually cook. If you actually cook 3/4 of the meals found inside it, then keep it. If you only use 2-3 recipes then copy them down (or scan them to your computer) and let the actual book go to a new home. Amazon is is excellent place to sell used books. I sell there frequently.
What tips do you have for decluttering your home? I would love to hear.
Cleaning the kitchen is one of those things that I know needs to be broken down into daily tasks but an actual plan of action seems to elude me. I always seem to get the bare minimum done… aka cleaning the counters so I can prepare the day’s meals or loading/unloading the dishwasher so we have clean dishes to eat off of. But cleaning the spray off the backsplash and stove, wiping down the walls, or cleaning up stray peas underneath the kitchen table… forget it! This year I totally planned to hire someone to clean the kitchen for me 2-3 times a month but contributing to our retirement accounts before the deadline has taken precedence. It’s always something. Even though I LOVE the idea of having outside help, and I DO hire someone a couple times a year, I really struggle with forking over money for something I can do myself.
So I decided to sit down and write out a 30 day plan to see if I can tackle this once and for all. We shall see how it goes. I figure each item should only take 10-15 minutes tops and it will hopefully help me stay on top of the kitchen so it never gets so bad I decide that takeout sounds like the best option. I plan to hang this on the fridge and check things off each day after the relevant task is accomplished. I have my bottle of vinegar, castile soap, and tea tree oil at the ready. I also acquired a Neato Automatic Vacuum Cleaner that will clean of debris from my kitchen floor for me. I just have to remember to press the button at least once a day and “Cheese” as my son lovingly named him, will cleanup those stray peas for me. As a bonus he will even clean the rest of the first floor! I highly recommend a Neato if it is in the budget.
So…assuming that I can make the time to wipe down counters and do the dishes daily here are my 30 day tasks…
1. Wipe down all appliances (stove, fridge, Vita-Mix, ect. )
2. Wipe down and de-grease cabinets
3. Mop floor
4. Wipe down and de-grease the backsplash
5. Deep clean and shine sink
6. Clean the trash can inside and out
7. Clean drawers and declutter counters
8. Mop Floor
9. Wipe down all walls and baseboards
10. Clean out the fridge/freezer
11. Wipe down all appliances (stove, fridge, Vita-Mix, ect. )
12. Clean under the fridge and stove
13. Mop floor
14. Deep clean and shine sink
15. Wipe down and de-grease cabinets
16. Clean windows and sills
17. Clean out the pantry
18. Mop floor
19. Wipe down all appliances (stove, fridge, Vita-Mix, ect. )
20. Deep clean and shine sink
21. Deep clean stove
22. Wipe down interior of cabinets and pantry
23. Mop floor, wipe down and de-grease the backsplash
24. Wipe down all walls and baseboards
25. Dust light fixtures and vent covers
26. Wipe down all appliances (stove, fridge, Vita-Mix, ect. )
27. Deep clean and shine sink
28. Mop floor
29. Organize pots and pans
30. Wipe down and de-grease the backsplash
Do you have any advice or tips to offer?
LOVE to talk about green cleaning. No really, could talk about it all day long. I do not understand why so many folks rely on mainstream cleaners with their noxious and toxic chemicals. The green stuff works just as well and it is safe for humans and safe for our planet. There is just no reason to buy up most of the stuff you will see in the cleaning isle of your conventional grocery store. NO REASON. And before anyone brings up price I will concede that bottle of mainstream all purpose cleaner “may” cost less than a bottle by Seventh Generation. But you don’t have to buy pricey bottled cleaners at all. Ever heard of vinegar, baking soda, lemons, borax and the like? Yeah, I thought so. Cheap and effective green cleaning for pennies.
Here is what I use in my house:
Vinegar - Words cannot describe how much I love to clean with vinegar. I keep it in a spray bottle under the kitchen sink and I use it all the time. I use it as an all purpose cleaner, floor cleaner, laminate floor cleaner, window and glass cleaner, and I use it as a follow up to baking soda in tubs, sinks, toilets, and showers. AND I also use it as a hair rinse for our No Poo routine. Just recently one of my kids got head lice (the offender shall remain nameless) but we used vinegar daily to dissolve the glue from the nits. We got the lice under quick control and no one else in the house got lice either. How much more amazing could this stuff be?
Baking Soda – A scrubbing powder for grime. I use it in tubs, toilets, showers, sinks, etc. It can also be mixed with essential oils to make a scented scrub. Just put it in a Ball jar, drop in some essential oils such as Tea Tree or Lavender, slap a sprouting lid on top of it for a homemade shaker! This can be used to deodorize carpets as well. Sprinkle and let sit for 20 minutes and then vacuum up.
Essential Oils – Many essential oils have antibacterial properties that make them perfect for cleaning. Plus they make the house smell great. My homemade kitchen floor cleaner is vinegar, water, and tea tree oil. My homemade shampoo is pure castile soap, water, and peppermint oil.
Pure Castile Soap – Safe, natural, and effective. We would be LOST without our big bottles of Dr. Bronners. In addition to adding it to homemade cleaners and shampoo I also use it in my washing machine and to clean my carpets with my SteamVac.
Borax – I use this in my dishwasher coupled with baking soda.
Natural and Green Cleaners to Purchase
I will on rare occasions buy a cleaner. Some of my faves are the Seventh Generation Cleaner with Lemongrass and Thyme that I linked to in the first paragraph and the Cedarwood and Sage Cleaner from Trader Joe’s. I really like both of those and will buy them when the mood strikes me.
If you need further help I have a FREE green cleaning ebook you can read with homemade cleaner recipes! I made it in 2009 but it is still relevant of course. Pass that link on to anyone you know who may benefit! I also like the book Creating Your Perfect Cleaning Schedule. It is not green per say but it has a great tips about getting it all done in less time.
So what do you use to clean your house? How do you keep it green?