Spring cleaning usually happens earlier in the spring, but it is not too late to get started or to get started again! With these rainy days, and the fresh new muddy footprints coming into our homes, it is a perfect opportunity to clean the house!

I am a very meticulous cleaner. I am very particular about what brands and cleaners I use because some just don’t make the cut! I have found in the last couple of years, that brands that are returning to old formulas from the 19th and early 20th centuries, like using vinegar as the main disinfectant, are not only the best cleaners, but the gentlest on my system. Anyone who has spent the majority of the day cleaning with chemicals knows how dry your hands get, and how much the smells can upset your stomach. While your house is left smelling “clean,” your body is left burning with toxic chemicals that are inhaled into your lungs.

Cleaning was not always dealing with harsh chemicals. Back when the Delords lived in the Kent-Delord House Museum in the 19th century, cleaning was what today is called sustainable. Cleaners were natural, and used materials commonly found around the house. Many cleaners today are using what the Delords once used to clean their houses because of a national movement to use more natural, sustainable, and green materials in our day to day lives.

Instead of spending the extra bucks on the green and sustainable cleaners at the grocery stores, use these common household items to make your own cleaners!

ImageFresh Lemons: Have some pesky stains on brass and copper around your house? Lemons are the answer! Cut a lemon in half, sprinkle salt on the halves, and rub the lemon halves on the metal. Then rinse thoroughly.

Are some of your dishwasher safe dishes still have acidic food stains on them? Do your wooden spoons still smell like the food you cooked with it? Again, lemons are the answer! Rub lemon juice on the spots and let items dry in the sun. After that, wash as normal and your stains and food smells should be gone!

Essential Oils: Mix some lavender oil or lemongrass oil for this next trick. 10 drops of either essential oil to 2 ounces of water will create a wonderful window cleaner that not only leaves your house smelling fresh, but removes bothersome grime on the windows. It might even repel unwanted flies!

Cornstarch: Grease is a problem in our day to day lives. If you spill grease on the carpet, on a rug, or on some upholstery, just sprinkle some cornstarch on top to soak up the grease. Let it sit for 15-30 minutes and then vacuum it up. Voila! Stains are gone!

ImageVinegar: Vinegar is truly the go to for cleaning. Vinegar stops the growth of mold, mildew and some bacteria so it is great to use as a cleaning agent in the bathroom, and kitchen. It is also great to use to clean old wooden cutting boards and to clean the shower door. Just mix equal parts vinegar and water to use as a spray cleaner.

Using vinegar in laundry is also smart! Some use it as a laundry detergent, and others let it soak in problem areas like the armpits to deodorize. Just add vinegar to your washing machine like you would add laundry detergent. It is not the same fresh scent as Gain, but it is fresh without the harsh chemicals.!

Mixing vinegar with equal parts hot water also makes a great window cleaner. Mix vinegar with equal parts melted beeswax and you can remove the rings left on furniture from wet glasses.

If all else fails, try some vinegar!

Hydrogen Peroxide: A simple way to clean your fresh produce and to disinfect cutting boards. Mix 1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide with ¼ cup of water to make a fresh cleaner. If you mix hydrogen peroxide with some dish soap it will help deodorize litter boxes and nasty garbage cans.

ImageBorax: Borax is just as useful as vinegar. If you mix it with some dish soap, it is great to clean the refrigerator shelves. Take boiling water and mix it with some borax, and it will unclog the drain. Sprinkle it around the outside of the house to get rid of insects (anyone else have a house centipede problem?). Have a mildew problem? Forget about it! Dilute and spray borax to tackle the mildew!

Have hard water rust stains in your toilet? Pour some borax into the toilet and let it sit over night. The next morning you can swish a brush around to get rid of the rust stains.

You can clean the walls and countertops with borax after you mix a ½ cup of it in a gallon of hot water. With borax, you are invincible so start cleaning!

ImageBaking Soda: You might just keep baking soda in your refrigerator or cabinets to keep them smelling fresh. However, it has more uses! Mix it with an equal amount of water to make a paste unstoppable in defeating the stains on washable wall paper. Have grout on your floors? No problem! Take 3 cups baking soda and mix it with 1 cup of warm water and apply. Let it sit and rinse well. Baking soda is also great on a damp cloth to remove heel marks from linoleum floors.

You can also purchase some of the same products as back in the day such as Castile soap, Bissell carpet sweeper, the cotton dust mop, and Fels-Naptha soap. Using old cloth diapers is also recommended as the best washing cloth, and it won’t leave lint on windows or mirrors!

Don’t go to the grocery store the next time you need new cleaning supplies…go straight to your pantries! Clean your house the old fashioned way and leave those chemical filled cleaners behind!

Source: April 2013 Real Simple Magazine, “The Best Cleaning Ideas: Past, Present, and Future;” by Marjorie Ingall; pp. 180-189.