March 20th is officially the first day of spring… It’s getting warmer and everything outside seems to be coming to life. Somehow this time of year manages to make your home seem dark and grubby, which is probably why this is the time of year most people dig down deep to give their home a good old-fashioned spring cleaning. And it’s ok even if it’s not warm enough to slide open every window in the house for the day, since cleaning with natural, smell-good ingredients don’t fill the air full of nasty chemicals. Here are today’s spring cleaning tips for you…
Before you even think about cleaning, set aside some time to declutter and get rid of all those things piled up that you never use. Clothes, books, toys, dishes, linens or whatever it may be… we all have it. The less stuff you have, the less cleaning and the less moving things around to get to the tough spots. Anything in good condition can be donated.
Earth911 has an amazing list of places you can donate to. You can donate furniture to military families or Vietnam veterans, computers and computer parts to a non-profit that find uses for them in underfunded schools, books to libraries and schools, shoes to those who need them and much more. You can find the list here. For anything you don’t find a home for, you can almost certainly find a Freecycle group in your area. Of course, you’ll likely come across plenty of stuff that’s not necessarily donation-worthy. For that reason, I suggest having a handy, family-size dumpster to toss everything in. You can probably find a same day dumpster rental that will deliver and pick-up whenever you need.
Lemons have been shown to have some amazing antibacterial properties due to the level of citric acid they contain. They can easily break down dirt, grime and other yuckiness. And the best part? When you’re finished, you’re left with a relaxing, brighten-your-mood, zesty fragrance that fills the air.
What Can You Clean with Lemons?
Surprisingly, there are a number of things you can do with lemons. Here are just some of them to get you started:
Microwave cleaning magic: Does your microwave have gross, unsanitary buildup accumulating? It can be a real pain to try to clean out a microwave thoroughly. Lemons make it much easier. Simply slice up your lemon. Fill a microwave-safe bowl with water and pop in those lemon slices. Now microwave it on high for a minute or two. Take a wet sponge, get to wiping and watch the grime easily, magically disappear.
Gleaming glass, mirror and window cleaning solution: Add a couple tablespoons of lemon juice to a couple quarts of water for a simple natural glass cleaner that will make your windows and mirrors sparkle and shine.
Oven cleaner and super degreaser: Thanks to amount of acidity in lemons, they can be a wonderful degreaser. Forget about expensive chemicals that require massive air circulation so you don’t breathe in the vapors. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that many of those oven cleaners contain an ingredient called Lye. It’s a dangerous ingredient to have lying around in your house, particularly if you have kids or pets. It can be fatal if ingested and it can burn your skin and eyes.
Instead, heat your oven to 400 degrees. Fill a pot with hot water. Add some lemon juice, drop in some vinegar too if you like. Put it in the oven. Once you’re sure the oven is nice and hot and is running at 400 degrees, turn it off. No need to waste energy here. The inside of the oven gets a nice steam bath that makes cleaning much easier. Think of it as steam cleaning your oven! When it’s cool enough, take your sponge and get to work.
If there are still tough spots with baked-on ickiness, make a paste with lemon juice, vinegar and baking soda. Mix them together to form a paste-like substance. Don’t throw away your lemon yet, either. Keep it to use as your applicator. Use the lemon (cut in half) as a sponge to smear the paste all over those tough areas and let it, preferably, sit over night. When you wake, spray the area lightly with a water bottle if it’s tried to harden on you like baking soda likes to do sometimes and let it sit another hour or so. Now wipe it all off, along with the grime.