Spring Cleaning the Home Made Way

I’ve dabbled in home made cleaners, but never really got into it too much. I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit more recently, since it looks like spring might finally be here, and it’s time to get spring cleaning underway. Spending a ton of money on harsh and abrasive chemicals increasingly doesn’t sit right with me, so I figured – I’m going to go all in and give home made cleaning supplies a fair shake.

So it seemed providential that I should receive an email a few weeks ago from Adams Media, the publisher of a new book called The Organically Clean Home by Becky Rapinchuk. I must say, I did receive a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes, but you all know how picky I am about endorsing stuff. So I have absolutely no problem saying that I am in love with this whole book, and it’s completely changed the way I’m going to clean my home. It’s got a really great format, making it easy to read – broken down by room, there’s a cleaning recipe for just about every situation you could imagine.

And as a serious deal seeker and couponer, the notion of saving loads of money on cleaning supplies really got my attention. After reading the whole book in a day (yes, I couldn’t put down a book on cleaning…) I settled on a handful of all-purpose recipes to start with, and made a shopping list. This is what I came home with –

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All of the supplies above came in at about $25. I did have the castile bar soap and rosemary essential oil on hand, but if I’d had to buy those, my total would’ve still only been $30. The other two essential oils pictured are tea tree and lemon. Also included in the total are another gallon of vinegar and two plastic spray bottles from the dollar store. And this stuff will probably last me about six months, at least.

As I learned from the book, you can pretty much clean every single thing in your home (and clean it effectively!) with everything shown above. And while you still want to treat home made cleaners with respect and caution and keep them on a high shelf away from kids and pets, I’m feeling a lot better about having this stuff sit on my counter than some of the other stuff that’s lurking in my closet.

I chose four recipes to start with – Lemon & Peppermint All-Purpose Cleaner, Disinfecting Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Carpet Spot Remover and Lemon & Clove Powdered Laundry Soap – Small Batch. Tinkerer that I am, I did make a few adjustments (which the book actually does encourage with listed variations for many of the recipes) and was seriously excited about the results.

The Lemon & Peppermint All-Purpose Cleaner is a dream. I switched the peppermint essential oil for lemon essential oil, and omitted the fresh lemon juice in order to make it shelf stable (the version with fresh lemon needs refrigeration and to be used in about a week). I used it to clean my god-awful glass coffee table and it actually came clean, with no streaks. And interestingly, it almost seems to be repelling nastiness since I’ve used it – Little Man has played on it all afternoon, which usually means it’s covered in fingerprints and toddler grime, but it’s still looking good. I also used it to wipe down the kitchen counters and sink, and the stainless steel is positively gleaming. And everything smells clean – not chemically. And for those of you that are put off with the idea of cleaning with a very pungent product like vinegar, please try it! The addition of essential oils makes the scary vinegar smell go right away.

The Disinfecting Toilet Bowl Cleaner was equally impressive. This is a one-time use product, meaning you mix it up right when you want to use it, as it won’t store. It’s just as simple as the all purpose spray – in the toilet bowl mix vinegar, baking soda and tea tree oil. Let it sit for a bit, then scrub the bowl as usual and flush. And our toilet is the worst – it picks up (and holds onto) stains like you wouldn’t believe. The strongest off-the-shelf cleaners barely got it clean, and it was not a fun job to get in there and scrub it. I could scarcely believe my eyes using the home made stuff – the stains just bubbled away. A quick run around the bowl with the brush, and my toilet was clean! I have to admit, I’d buy the book for these two recipes alone!

Next up was the carpet. We have a cream-colored carpet with a toddler, and coming off of one of the dirtiest, yuckiest winters we’ve had in a long time. The carpet is gross. The biggest offense (and I really hope my landlord isn’t reading this…) is the toddler pouch food that got dribbled in various places and not noticed for a little while (possibly about a week…), so that the butternut squash puree basically got super glued into the carpet. Please don’t judge me. So Little Man and I made a game out of “let’s find all the spots” and made the rounds of the living room treating each one with vinegar and baking soda, as instructed in the Carpet Spot Remover recipe. It felt good having my son “help” me clean without any fear about him being around the products too. And while the spots didn’t come out 100%, then came out about halfway. Since they were so far gone, I was actually impressed they came out at all, so I don’t fault the recipe on this one. Simply means I need to pull out the big guns this week and try the Carpet Disinfectant recipe – which is basically soaking the stain in vodka.

And the one recipe that I mixed up but haven’t tried yet is the Lemon & Clove Powdered Laundry Soap, though once again I tweaked the recipe a bit. We have very sensitive skin, so I omitted the essential oil for an unscented version. I can’t wait to try it though. I have high hopes for it – it looks like what a powdered laundry soap should, and it smells clean. For the first time in my life, I might actually be looking forward to doing the laundry.

 The book is also loaded with some great tips and tricks on not only cleaning, but organizing and establishing a routine. And the list person that I am also appreciates the checklists and and plans in the back of the book. The author, Becky Rapinachuk, also has a great website called Clean Mama where you can purchase all kinds of printable home and life organization charts, lists and planners. And she’s got a good selection of basic ones that you can grab for free as well! She also have a nice selection of DIY cleaner recipes posted if you’d like to try out a few before buying the book. But I do encourage you to get it – it’ll be the best $12 you ever spent. The book officially releases on April 18th, but you can pre-order at Amazon if you don’t want to wait.

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