Monday, October 22, 2012

Mixing Potions for Green Cleaning

When I was in fifth grade I liked to go over to my friend Jane's house.  Her mom let us experiment in the kitchen, creating potions out of regular household cooking and baking ingredients.  We gave them names like Flapderrypepin, Vinoosoda, and Bubboo which came from taking a few letters from each of the ingredients and putting them together to make a longer word.  So, Flapderrypepin was something like flour, paprika, baking powder, curry, pepper and vinegar and it was a spicy antidote to our first skin-soothing recipe of which I can't recall.  Vinoosoda came about because we added food coloring to vinegar and baking soda, creating a colorful foaming liquid.  Bubboo was invented by taking soap bubbles from the dish water and adding food coloring (about 3 different ones) which made a glorious colorful mound of suds on the spoon.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I started my latest creative project.  I'd like to call it Green Speed Cleaning.  I decided that since I need to clean my house anyway, I might as well turn it into something a little more exciting rather than chasing spiders and inhaling toxic cleaning fumes. I'd turn it into an opportunity to create useful potions that were environmentally friendly.

I found two books at the library - Speed Cleaning 101 by Laura Dellutri and The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Mater.  I decided to combine elements from both of them to pursue my own shine-up project.

Speed Cleaning is a great book to help you gather your tools and set priorities.  Dellutri describes different types of cleaning that are done daily, weekly, seasonally, and of course, speed cleaning - when you have unexpected company coming over.  There are lots of tips borrowed from professional cleaning tactics such as "avoid circular wiping," "carry your cleaning supplies with you in a bucket," and "clean a room from the top down."

The thing that I didn't like about this book was that the author discouraged the reader from using natural cleaning products saying they weren't effective.  She also used glass cleaner for the counter tops as well as for the mirrors and windows as an "all purpose cleaner."  (Sorry, I don't like the idea of having my food taste like Windex.)

The Naturally Clean Home offers a lot of different potions for cleaning floors, dishes, clothing, wood, glass, and even car battery terminals.  Ingredients include baking soda, vinegar, essential oils, borax, and castile soap.  I promptly jumped in and mixed up a few of the recipes starting with my own vinegar and water mixture in a spray bottle which did wonders for faucets and stoves.  Then I tried the Citrus Blast appliance cleaner - castile soap, white vinegar, lemon juice, water, citrus seed extract, essential oil and borax.  (A lot of this stuff you can find at the co-op.)  This is what I use for the microwave and fridge.  I also found a scouring powder that I like with baking soda, cream of tartar, borax and lemon peel that I keep in a shaker bottle and use for sink and bathtub stains.  The only problem I found with this book is that the author used a lot of lavender and eucalyptus oils to scent the cleaners, and I can't stand them!  So, instead I used mostly citrus oils.  I also didn't like the option for dish soap because it didn't seem to cut through grease very well and left a residue on the dishes. 

Oddly enough, the hardest thing about making my own cleaners was finding functional spray bottles.  I found some small ones at Target, and they worked for about a week, but then they wouldn't spray after that.  I found industrial sized sprayers, but I still needed some smaller ones.  I ended up going to the container store and grabbed a couple of metal ones which have held up pretty well.

Ok, and while I was at it, I also found a free class at the Hennepin County Library and made two more cleaners - an all purpose one with peppermint soap and a goopy scouring gel made out of baking soda and cream of tartar.

And, well, I have to admit that house cleaning has become a bit more enjoyable.  My stove top smells like lemons, my floor mat smells like peppermint, and I'm amazed that we spend so much money on cleaning products when vinegar is so cheap. 

No comments:

Post a Comment