23 Ways to Spring Clean With Everyday Household Items
With winter coming to a close, spring cleaning is high on many housekeeping agendas. But don't run out to buy loads of special cleaning supplies -- chances are you have all the necessary items right at your fingertips. Common household products make the most effective and safest spring cleaning supplies.
Here's how to spring clean your house on the cheap by using what's in the cupboard.
Photo by Geo-grafika/shutterstock
White Vinegar Cleans Nearly Everything.Older generations probably used vinegar to clean their homes. Vinegar's traditional popularity as a natural cleaning solution reflects its antibacterial and deodorizing properties and low price. Mix one part vinegar to one part water, and you have an all-purpose cleaner that works wonders in many areas of your home, from countertops to windows to carpets. In the bathroom, the vinegar-water mixture is remarkably effective at tidying up a shower head caked with grime and shining up mirrors and bathroom fixtures.
Lemon Banishes Soap Scum.For a great-smelling, natural disinfectant, squeeze a lemon. You can use undiluted lemon juice or mix it with water to make a natural cleaning product that dissolves soap scum and mineral deposits.
Baking Soda Spiffs Up Pots and Pans.Banish stains and odors with this versatile natural cleaning product. Although its effectiveness as a toothpaste is well known, baking soda also cleans everything from clothing to cookware. Get rid of burnt, stuck-on food by boiling a mixture of equal parts vinegar, baking soda, and water; scrub and rinse clean.
White Vinegar Freshens the Kitchen.Loosen the grime in a microwave by wiping down the interior with a cloth dampened with vinegar and warm water. Ditto for counters and refrigerator. Run white vinegar through an empty cycle of the dishwasher and coffee maker to freshen and brighten. A vinegar wash will also get rid of telltale signs of coffee and tea in mugs when mixed in equal parts with salt. Don't worry about the tangy smell -- it disappears after the vinegar dries. And if you have any solution left over, pour it into a glass bowl and heat it to boiling in the microwave to eliminate lingering food odors.
Essential Oils Make Good Scents.Give your natural cleaning products a fresh scent with essential oils. Although a tiny bottle of fragrant oil may seem expensive upfront, a little goes a long way: A few drops are enough to scent a bucket of water. Many essential oils also have antibacterial or other helpful qualities, so use them for their fragrance and their cleaning power. Tea tree oil and lemon oil, for example, are antibacterial and antifungal, and fresh-smelling lemongrass oil can clean your house and repel insects.
Hydrogen Peroxide Buffs the Kitchen.Commonly used to clean minor scrapes and scratches, hydrogen peroxide also has a talent for cleaning. The website One Good Thing by Jillee offers up a huge list of in-home uses for 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, including many spring cleaning tasks: cutting boards, countertops, dishwasher, and refrigerator, for example. You also can wipe down kids' toys and lunch boxes with hydrogen peroxide.
White Vinegar Tackles Stains.A paste of 2 tablespoons white vinegar and one-quarter salt or baking soda can loosen carpet stains, while boiled vinegar can remove tough stains on clothes such as socks and sweaty shirts. Rub with the vinegar, wipe with a cloth, and put in the wash. You can also run white vinegar through a cycle of the washing machine to clean and disinfect it.
Lemon Beats Back Tarnish.You can shine and polish metal with a paste made from one half a lemon and 2 teaspoons of baking soda.
Borax Washes the Laundry.Borax is a cheap and effective natural cleaner. It's used in many homemade laundry detergents, like the one detailed at the website DIY Natural. If you don't want to make your own detergent, just sprinkle Borax in with your laundry to boost the cleaning power of regular detergent. It can eliminate molds and fungus that leave your towels smelling musty.
White Vinegar Conquers Mildew.Mixing 2 tablespoons white vinegar with one-quarter cup baking soda or salt makes a powerful paste that can clean grout and banish mildew wherever it's lurking.
Baking Soda Does Tricks in the Kitchen and Bathroom.Mix equal parts water and baking soda to use as a mild abrasive for cleaning bathrooms and kitchens. Try it on the inside of the oven and on stainless steel and chrome appliances; wipe off with a damp cloth.
Dish Soap Defeats Grease.Dish soap that triumphs over grease and grime on dirty dishes does the same for grease and grime in other areas of the house. Use blue Dawn to spring clean shower and sink scum, carpet stains, and automotive tools. For grease stains on clothing, dab on some Dawn, let it sit a few hours, and then wash as usual.
Lemon Prettifies Wood Furniture.To clean hardwood furniture, soak a cloth in a mixture of two parts olive oil to one part lemon juice and rub into the wood with a soft cloth to dissolve dirt and built-up polish.
Hydrogen Peroxide Cleanses the Bathroom.You can clean the toilet bowl and shower grout in the bathroom with hydrogen peroxide. It works wonders wherever there's tile, and will brighten floors considerably.
Baking Soda Demolishes Odors.Place an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator or deep freezer to absorb rancid smells, and in the bottom of smelly trash cans to eliminate the odor. Sprinkle some on carpets and upholstered furniture, let it sit for an hour or so, and then vacuum it up to wipe out pet and other smells. Baking soda also gets rid of odors emitted by the vacuum cleaner.
Borax Tidies Up the Kitchen.As with laundry, Borax can improve the smell in the dishwasher. Sprinkle some in the bottom of your dishwasher and let it sit a few hours, then wipe down and run next cycle as usual. Borax also does a number on pots, pans, and tough tea and coffee cup stains.
White Vinegar Clears Clogged Drains.This powerful combo of one part vinegar to one part baking soda can get your slow or completely clogged drains running again. Follow up with hot water to flush out the residue.
UV Rays Cure the Laundry.For a natural clean and a springtime smell, try line-drying the laundry. As a natural disinfectant, the sun's UV rays kill germs and remove allergens such as dust mites. Sunlight can also lighten your linens without bleach: Hang them on the line to dry on a bright day, and they'll look whiter by the time you bring them in. To freshen everything from towels and bed sheets to pillows and upholstered furniture, set them outside for 30 minutes. You'll get a double dose of clean from the sunshine and the fresh air.
Dryer Sheets Eat the Dust.When used in the laundry, dryer sheets help control static and leave clothes smelling fresh, but they can also be used for spring cleaning throughout the house. Run a dryer sheet over the baseboards and through the mini-blinds to remove dust and prevent additional accumulation. They also pick up clingy pet hair from furniture and upholstery and dust from computer and TV screens. Layer a few on a dry mop to dry-clean floors.
White Vinegar Confronts Miscellaneous Jobs.A simple spray of straight vinegar can remove crayon marks, clean the grates on your outdoor grill, unstick stickers, and freshen fabrics like carpets, curtains, shoes, and most any surface. To remove dripped wax, use a mix of one part vinegar to one part water.
Hydrogen Peroxide Lightens the Laundry.Presoak the laundry in some hydrogen peroxide to get rid of armpit stains and other hard-to-remove blotches. One cup added to a laundry load of whites brightens the items and one part hydrogen peroxide to one part vinegar removes the mildew smell from towels.
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Blocks All.The ability to remove scuff marks and other smudges from walls, baseboards, and floors makes this common household item irreplaceable. According to the blog The Fun Times Guide, this nifty product can tackle a variety of spring cleaning projects: wipe down textured appliances; clean scuffed-up shoes; eliminate cooking stains and those from rust and soot; remove dry paint from door hinges and knobs; get rid of soap scum, mold, and mildew; clean window screens; polish silver; wipe down outdoor furniture; and clean up paint and nail polish spills.
Cleaning Cloths Find a New Purpose.Socks that are missing mates and old rags find a second life as dusters and scrubbers, while old winter gloves can spring clean blinds and hard-to-reach crevices. Microfiber cloths used for cleaning the car can pull double duty as dusters and window and mirror cloths.