Spring into Cleaning

Photo by Dorothy C. Lee

Spring is officially upon us. There are few rites of spring more familiar than the annual Spring Cleaning. It is easier and healthier to live in a clean, well-organized home. Spring Cleaning doesn’t have to be synonymous with drudgery, though.

The key to cleaning is being organized and familiar with the uses of different cleaning products. Today’s cleaning methods and equipment make it more efficient and economical to clean. Be an informed consumer when selecting household cleaning supplies. Selecting a few all-purpose cleaners is more economical and requires less storage space.

Make it easy: Get organized. Gather cleaning supplies. Select a few all-purpose cleaners. Put all of your cleaning supplies, brushes, gloves, rags, etc. into one basket and take it with you as you move from room to room.

Clean with ease. Here are some tips that can help you. 1) Clean as you go, for example, make your bed as you get out of it. 2) Perform preventive measures to avoid big cleaning jobs later, for example, change filters in heating and cooling equipment regularly. 3) Plan ahead. Make a list and check off items as you complete the chore. Establish a flexible cleaning schedule. 4) Make sure to follow manufacturers’ directions for use and care of items. 5) Incentivize by establishing a goal and reward yourself when you’ve accomplished it. 6) Get in a cleaning mindset. Put on an exercise DVD and think or cleaning as a workout instead of a chore, or put on music you like to move to and let it get you energized.

Consider making your own household cleaning supplies…Granny did! Try baking soda, vinegar, and ammonia for cleaning. These old-fashioned cleaners still work today. Making your own cleaners can cost less and be environmentally safe.

Safety considerations should always be followed when making household cleaning supplies. Never mix chlorine bleach with any other cleaning agents, for example, ammonia or vinegar. The combination can create toxic fumes. Using containers that once held food or beverages to store cleaning supplies could lead to mistaken identity and result in accidental poisoning. Clearly label each container. Store all cleaning supplies out of reach of children. Mix cleaning solutions in a ventilated area and clean up after using toxic substances. Store containers tightly closed.

Many household cleaners can be made from inexpensive household ingredients. Following are a few DIY cleaning solutions you can prepare yourself:

Multipurpose Cleaner

½ cup ammonia
1 cup baking soda
2 cups warm water

Mix ingredients in a one-gallon container until baking soda is dissolved, and then add enough water to fill the gallon container. Use ½ cup of mixture in a bucket of water to clean floors, walls, woodwork.

Window Cleaner

Mix together 2 tablespoons vinegar and 1 quart water in a spray container. Spray windows, and if desired, may use crumpled up newspaper to shine windows.

Mildew Cleaner

¾ cup chlorine bleach
1 gallon water

Mix and put into spray container. Apply to mildewed area; let stand for five minutes; rinse with water.

Disinfecting Solution

¾ cup chlorine bleach
1 tablespoon liquid soap
1 gallon water

Mix ingredients together. Wipe surface and let stand for two minutes. Rinse and wipe dry or air dry.

Aluminum Cleaner

1 tablespoon vinegar to 1 quart water, or
2 teaspoons cream of tartar to 1 quart water

Add solution to pan and bring to a boil. Boil until discoloration disappears. Empty solution, let pan cool and rinse.

Consider making your own cleaners before you buy. They cost less and are eco-friendly. Be an informed consumer and spring into cleaning.

For further information, go to the University of Florida Solutions for your life website, http://www.SolutionsForYourLife.com.


EDIS publication FCS 3149 “Hazardous Household Substances: Alternatives That are Relatively Free of Toxic Effects”
“Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Commercial Cleaners and Other Household Products,” Environmental Media Services, www.ems.org
“Safe Substitutes at Home: Non-Toxic Household Products,” EnviroSense, http://es.epa.gov

Photo credit: Dorothy C. Lee

Dorothy C. Lee, CFCS
Extension Agent
Family & Consumer Sciences


Posted: March 31, 2014

Category: Home Management, WORK & LIFE

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