How to Spring Clean Your Entire House Without Harsh Chemicals
And still get every surface sparkling.
It's that time of year again—when the weather starts to warm up and we begin to prepare for more time outdoors. That is, after we handle the post-winter "homework" that is getting our houses in well enough order to feel good about leaving them.
And why not leave the harsh chemicals behind while you're at it? Crack open the windows, press play on a new audiobook, and read on for a room-by-room breakdown of DIY cleaning concoctions you can whip up using many of the essential ingredients found right inside your home (more all-natural solutions in our comprehensive guide). Not the DIY type? Discover our top picks for green cleaning products that can be purchased at a store near you.
Combs and brushes: Fill a container with 1 1/2 cups water, 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar, and 20 drops tea-tree, lavender, or eucalyptus oil. Soak combs and brushes for 20 minutes, then rinse and air dry.
Sinks, tubs, and ceramic tile: Combine 1 tablespoon liquid Castile soap and 1/3 cup baking soda and use a soft scrub brush. Wipe doors down with a few drops of lemon oil twice a month to help prevent buildup.
Scuffed floors: Apply 2-4 drops of tea tree oil to spots. Wipe excess oil with a cloth and rub in distilled white vinegar. If linoleum, you can also try reducing marks by scrubbing them with toothpaste and a dry cloth until no toothpaste residue remains.
Toilets: Add 2 teaspoons tea-tree oil and 2 cups water to a spray bottle. Shake, spritz along the toilet’s inside rim, let sit for 30 minutes, and scrub.
Windows: Wipe with 2 ounces water and 10 drops lavender or lemongrass oil to remove smears.
Countertop: Dip the cut side of a lemon half in baking soda and use it to gently scrub the surface. Wipe with a wet sponge and dry. For marble (and other natural stone surfaces), stir 1 tablespoon liquid Castile soap into 1 quart warm water, dampen a cloth with the solution and wipe the surface, then dry with a clean cloth.
Chrome: Combine 2 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap and 3 tablespoons white vinegar in a spray bottle. Shake well, spray onto the chrome surface, and let sit for 10 minutes. Wipe with a damp cloth and buff with a dry cloth.
Stovetop and vent hood: Add a few squirts of liquid Castile soap to 2 cups hot water, then use it to clean and cut through grease.
Sink: Rub lemon juice onto faucet taps and let it sit overnight, wiping with a damp cloth to combat lime scale. To refresh up the garbage disposal, cut a lemon in half and run both pieces through the disposal.
Grout: Add lemon juice to 1 or 2 teaspoons cream of tartar (an acidic salt that acts as a natural bleaching agent) to make a paste. Apply with a toothbrush, then rinse for cleaner tiles.
Dishwasher: Pour 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar into the reservoir, or place a small bowl filled with vinegar on the bottom rack, and run an empty cycle to disinfect the interior. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice to your dishwashing detergent to help cut through grease.
Cutting boards and containers: Slice a lemon in half, squeeze onto the soiled cutting board surface, rub, and let sit for 20 minutes before rinsing. Rub lemon juice on dishwasher-safe containers, let dry in a sunny place, then wash as usual.
Wooden floors: Combine 1/4 cup liquid Castile soap and 2 gallons warm water, adding 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar for surfaces that are particularly greasy.
Upholstered furniture: Sprinkle baking soda on fabric, then vacuum to remove odors. To clean leather, combine 2 drops liquid Castile soap and 1 quart warm water and apply with a barely moist sponge, then dry.
Walls: Apply a baking-soda paste (equal parts baking soda and water) to white painted walls (baking soda may dull colored walls), and let dry before brushing it off with a clean cloth to erase crayon and other scuff marks.
Natural, unpainted rattan and wicker furniture: Brush lightly with vegetable or sunflower oil and gently rub in with a cloth to prevent rattan and wicker from drying or cracking (warming the oil on the stove first will help thin it for easier application).
Laundry: Add 1/2 cup lemon juice to the rinse cycle of a normal-size load to help brighten whites.
Steam iron: Fill the iron with equal parts vinegar and water and press the steam button. Turn off, let cool, empty, and rinse to get rid of mineral deposits.
Garage and Garden
Garage floors: Pour a generous amount of washing soda on oil and grease spots and sprinkle with water until a paste forms. Let sit overnight, then scrub with a damp brush, hose down, and wipe clean (this method can also be used for other concrete surfaces).
Garden tools: Dip a moist stiff-bristled brush in washing soda to scrub trimmers, clippers, and other non-aluminum tools. Rinse, then place in a sunny area to dry.
Grills and barbecue utensils: Dip a moist stiff-bristled brush in washing soda and scrub to combat tough grease stains. Rinse and let dry completely.