I don’t know about where you live, but here in the mountains of western North Carolina, we’ve been a land under siege. Everywhere you look, on every surface you set something and just about anywhere outdoors you might think about sitting, you’ll find a fine, powdery film. Yes, the season of pollen is upon us. While it’s a wonderful thing, full of benefits for winged creatures and flora of every persuasion, it can and often does plague the homes (and sinuses!) of humans everywhere.
Historically, once spring rolled around and homes both large and small began opening windows and emptying fireplaces and wood stoves of ashes for the last time, a thorough scrubbing of the entire dwelling commenced. From the rugs below all the way up to the ash-clad cobwebs hiding in ceiling corners above, spring was the time to get out the grime and bring in the freshness, and that’s exactly what I’m sharing with you today. Using affordable ingredients, many of which you’ll already have on hand, you can whip up an all-natural, inexpensive, homemade arsenal of cleaning products sure to help you spruce up your act and win the battle against pollen everywhere! — Ashley English
Photography and styling by Jen Altman
The full post continues after the jump . . .
Glorious Glass Cleaner
I want my glass and mirrors as streak- and dirt-free as anyone. That said, the intense ammonia scent synonymous with most glass cleaners is often more than I can stand. My solution is this simple vinegar and water blend with a bit of liquid dish or hand soap to prevent streaking. If you really want to whistle while you work, add the lemongrass essential oil suggested. Incredibly uplifting, you’ll be looking for surfaces to spray just to get a whiff of the vibrant scent!
Whenever I have a pretty bottle whose contents I’ve used up, I clean it and squirrel it away for potential use later. The same is true for spray nozzles (although they’re pretty easy to come by at home supply stores). For this glass cleaner, I upcycled a bottle that previously contained sparkling water, as well as a spray nozzle from a used-up Method product. I then affixed a dissolving canning label (available from Ball) detailing the bottle’s contents. Now I’ve got a cleaner that’s easy and affordable to make and in an attractive bottle to boot. Who says your cleaning remedies shouldn’t be as pretty as the space you’re cleaning? This would also make a fun house-warming gift.
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon liquid dish or hand soap
- 5 drops lemongrass essential oil (optional)
1. Place all the ingredients in a bottle.
2. Attach a spray nozzle to the bottle. Shake vigorously to fully combine.
3. Spray onto glass surfaces.
4. Wipe clean using a cloth or a coffee filter.
With a bit of olive oil and vinegar, your floors can be rendered shiny and new! I like to add a little lemon or orange essential oil to the mix so that the whole ordeal smells as wonderful as it looks, but that step is entirely at your discretion.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup white vinegar
- 10 drops lemon or orange essential oil (optional)
- hot water
1. Place olive oil and vinegar in a sink or bucket.
2. Add hot water to fill. Sprinkle essential oils over the surface of the water.
3. Use your mop to stir the mixture.
4. Mop as usual.
5. If your floor is slicker than you’d prefer after cleaning, use a cloth to wipe up any remaining oil.
This solution will convert even those who are most skeptical about the deep-cleaning properties of natural remedies. In just seconds, the baking soda removes tarnish on your precious silver pieces. The photo below shows two pair of earrings I purchased five years ago on my honeymoon in Paris, along with a ring of Jen’s (from Afghanistan, scored at the Field Museum in Chicago). Neither of us had seen our jewelry that clean in years. It sizzled into shiny perfection right before our eyes!
- a medium–large ceramic or glass baking pan
- 1/3 cup baking soda
- aluminum foil
1. Fill a kettle or pot with enough water to fill your baking dish. Bring to a boil.
2. While you wait for the water to boil, line the bottom of the baking dish with a piece of aluminum foil.
3. Place whatever pieces of silver you’d like to clean on top of the foil, making sure they are in direct contact with it.
4. Sprinkle the baking soda evenly across those pieces.
5. When the water comes to a boil, pour it over the baking dish. The baking soda will immediately begin to sizzle. (Watch to see just how quickly your pieces get clean!) Soak for at least five minutes.
6. Carefully remove the items from the baking dish (the water will still be hot).
7. Rinse each piece in cool water. Dry completely with a cloth before storing.
What about you? Have any go-to DIY cleaning solutions? I’d love to hear about them. For more of my easy-peasy homemade cleaning products, check out these two previous Small Measures posts. Otherwise, I’ve got company coming to visit this weekend, and in a house tucked a mile down a dusty dirt road with an active 1.5-year-old, two large dogs and a spouse that’s no stranger to mess-making, there’s always something to clean!
Photography and styling by Jen Altman