Natural Spring Cleaning

Natural Spring Cleaning
Essential Oils

For those of you who made it to the Natural Spring Cleaning Workshop at ArtBeast, thank you for coming. I really enjoyed meeting you. For those who could not make it I decided I would provide the basic information we went over in the workshop.

Basic Ingredients

Baking Soda: Baking Soda is slightly alkaline. It neutralizes acid based odors in water and absorbs odors in the air. It is a mild abrasive good for cleaning in the bathroom and kitchen, a good deodorizer in the laundry, and great air and carpet freshener. *

Vinegar: Vinegar is an acid that is antifungal, antibacterial, and disinfectant. It neutralizes alkaline substances such as build up from hard water. White distilled vinegar is used to avoid stains while cleaning. It removes gummy build up, eats away tarnish, and takes dirt of wood. *

Liquid Soap: Castile, glycerin, or other natural based soap. I use Costco’s Environmentally Friendly Dish Soap.

Almond or Grape Seed Oil: Usually can be purchased in bulk at local health food store. It’s a lubricant and moisturizer. Other oils can be used, but I find these are the cheapest and do not leave a waxy or gummy build up.

Essential Oils: There are an endless amount of essential oils each with their own benefits. For the purposes of natural cleaning, I find Tea Tree Oil the most versatile. It is antifungal, antibacterial, antiseptic, and smell good.

Hydrogen Peroxide 3% dilution: Hydrogen peroxide is a powerful alkaline liquid with disinfectant, antiseptic, and bleaching properties. For more information on uses for hydrogen peroxide, check out Peroxide Does a Better and Safer Job Than Bleach.

Washing Soda: Is like baking soda but more alkaline. It releases not harmful fumes, but is caustic, so wear gloves if handling it. It is an excellent solvent that cuts grease, removes oils and waxes, and deodorizer. Do not use on fiberglass or aluminum. *

*Information from Better Basics for the Home by Annie Berthold-Bond. I highly recommend this book. It is full of recipes for almost everything and the laundry tips are worth it alone.

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I get most of my ingredients at Costco including baking soda (12 lbs. for <$5), vinegar (2 gallons for $3), and Kirkman Environmentally Friendly Liquid Soap (about $8). I get almond or grape seed oil (about $9 a pound) in bulk, essential oil ($17 two oz bottle), vegetable glycerine (< $10 for 16 oz.), and Dr. Bronner’s Magic (castile) Soap ($5 per bar) at the local food cooperative. Hydrogen peroxide is cheap and easy to find at any drug or grocery store (about 1$ a bottle). Arm and Hammer Washing Soda is hard to find. Usually you find it in small markets or hardware stores that have never stopped carrying it (about $4 per box).

Basic Cleaning Recipes

All Purpose Cleaner: 2 cups water, 10-15 drops essential oil, and a few drops liquid soap.

Bleaching/Disinfectant Spray: equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water. Let sit 5-10 minutes and then wipe down.

Window Cleaner: ½ cup vinegar, 2 cups water, and a few drops essential oil for scent.

Mold and Mildew Spray: ½ cup water, ½ cup white vinegar, and 1/2 tsp. tea tree oil. Shake well before using.

Soft Scrub: 1-cup baking soda, enough liquid soap to make a good paste, and a 10-20 drops tea tree oil. Mix well before using.

Whitening Soft Scrub: 2 TBPS baking soda and enough hydrogen peroxide to make a very thick paste (thicker than the recipe above). Then add a few drops of liquid soap. Place over desired are and leave 10-15 minutes before scrubbing off. Can leave on longer if need to.

Carpet Freshener: Few cups baking soda and 20-30 drops essential oil. Shake well and spread over the carpet. Let sit at least 20 minutes before vacuuming.

Wood Cleaner/Polish: This recipe will vary depending on the age and finish of your floors. My floors are very old and have never been refinished and require a 1:1 ratio of vinegar/water to oil. General guidelines are 1-cup vinegar, ½ to 1-cup water, and ½ cup to 1-cup almond or grape seed oil. I also add a few drops of essential oil for scent. Mix well before using. Rub thoroughly until all oil is absorbed.

Laundry Detergent

There are many recipes for laundry soaps out there. Most of them use Fels Neptha bar soap or Ivory bar soap. I do not like using these because they both have fragrance. Also, Fels Neptha had petroleum based solvent and terpene (major component of turpentine). They also use Borax. I am uncomfortable recommending Borax because of its potential toxicity. Here is my recipe using castile soap:

  1. Grate 1 bar Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap into 4 cups warm water (from the tap) in a 5 gallon bucket with a lid. Mix until all the soap is dissolved.
  2. Add 1 TBSP of vegetable glycerin and mix well.
  3. Let sit overnight.
  4. Add 2 cups Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (not baking soda) and 4 additional cups warm water in increments until all the soda is dissolved.
  5. Add more water and mix until makes 2.5 gallons total.
  6. Before using dilute 1:1 with water. Mix thoroughly before each use.
  7. Use ½ cup for a top loader and ¼ cup for front loader.

Laundry Tips

  • Natural Fabric Softener = 1 cup vinegar with about 15 drops of essential oil to neutralize scent (never mix vinegar and chlorine bleach, the reaction is lethal). Be careful of stains as vinegar will set dyes. Use as directed for fabric softeners in front loaders. Use about ¼ cup in rinse cycle for top loaders.
  • Natural Bleach = ½ cup hydrogen peroxide in rinse cycle.
  • Natural Whitening = aspirin tablets (3-5) per load. Make sure they do not have any fancy coatings. Can be used with other

I hope you all find this helpful and please let me know if you have any questions.