Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March 1, 2011: Natural Cleaning Product Ingredients, Fabric Softener Recipes

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Today, the month of March comes blowing in on a strong wind – at least where I live! March represents the beginning of spring (the vernal equinox occurs two-thirds of the way through) and a gradual thawing and warming that sends a signal to bulbs that it’s time to bloom (the official flower of the month of March is the daffodil).

March is actually named after the Roman god of war, Mars and it was considered the first month of the calendar year in ancient Rome. It’s fitting, then, that the month’s birthstones are bloodstone and aquamarine, both of which denote courage.

All right, enough March trivia!

What does spring mean to me? Usually it’s spring cleaning! March is the beginning of the early windy season here in the White Mountains (which can last until May and makes another appearance in the fall) and by the time spring officially arrives, my house needs a thorough cleaning of all the dust that sneaks its way past the windows and doors.

In honor of that age-old tradition, I’m dedicating March blog posts to natural cleaning products and tips. I’ll still include food recipes and the occasional beauty treatment, but I want you to be ready for deep cleaning projects that only cost pennies - so there's no excuse not to clean!

Before we get any further into this month devoted to spring cleaning, I thought it beneficial to compile a list of ingredients you will find helpful to always keep on hand. With these products, you will have a natural arsenal of supplies sufficient for just about any spring cleaning job on your list.

The beauty of using natural products for cleaning is that you really can’t go wrong trying them for any type of application. Most of us know that you can’t combine bleach with various other ingredients because it could create toxic fumes; since I don’t use anything as harsh as bleach, that’s not a concern. The harshest item on this list is ammonia – and I use it sparingly.

It’s doubtful you can ruin anything with natural products, either. In the following list, I’ve indicated what each product does in the way of cleaning so you can determine whether or not a specific ingredient is appropriate for a particular application.

Natural Cleaning Products List

•    Lemon Juice – Mild acid (corrosive to metals), mild antibacterial and antiseptic, water softener, whitening agent, cuts grease
•    White Vinegar – Mild (household formula) acid that dissolves mineral deposits, brightens, cuts grease
•    Borax (sodium borate) – Detergent, insecticide,
•    Washing Soda (sodium carbonate) – Water softener, water descaler, removes oil, grease, and alcohol
•    Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate) - Disinfectant, antiseptic, acid neutralizer, water softener, odor neutralizer. But don't use on aluminum!
•    Cornstarch– Absorbs grease and moisture, mild abrasive
•    Dishwashing Liquid (dish soap) – Cuts grease
•    Tea Tree Oil – Antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, pesticide
•    Salt – Sets dyes, removes rust, abrasive, absorbent
•    Castile Soap – Non-foaming cleanser made from plant-based oils, used in place of any type of cleanser for face, body, or household
•    Fabric Softener – Lubricant, conducts electricity
•    Ammonia – Degreaser, produces streak-free shine; use sparingly and never mix with bleach or any product that contains bleach; use in a ventilated area

There may be a few other products that are necessary for specific solutions, but this list represents the core ingredients that will be used in the majority of the natural, homemade cleaning product recipes I’ll share with you here.

And because I owe you a recipe or two, here are two uses for fabric softener. These recipes are economical, too – I’m still using the bottle of fabric softener I bought six months ago!

Dryer Sheets

Instead of buying a box of dryer sheets for the laundry at the store, make your own. Simply use an old washcloth. Before you put your wet laundry into the clothes dryer, dampen the washcloth, then sprinkle it with about a tablespoon of fabric softener. Scrunch up the washcloth so the fabric softener permeates it, then toss it into the dryer. This is far cheaper than using dryer sheets.

Bathroom Cleaner

If you’re like me, you use hairspray on a regular basis (hey, I have to – I’ve got this fine, thin, flyaway hair!). But when I spray it on, it doesn’t just land on my hair – it tends to coat the tile floor in my bathroom, too. Unfortunately, hairspray is tenacious and regular floor cleaners don’t cut through the layers of sticky stuff. The solution? Mix 1 part fabric softener with 2 parts warm water. Spray or pour on the floor where needed. Let it sit for a couple minutes, then wipe it up. Presto! The hairspray softens and comes right up!


  1. Thanks for this useful list of green cleaning products. I've learn many things about the month. I had no idea where its name comes from. The spring is great time for different types of cleaning and even end of tenancy cleaning because the month is appropriate about moving.

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  3. I have use this cleaning method for over 5 years now. And in comparison to commercially made products, by far this is the best cleaning method for me.

  4. Nice post !
    I learned a lot of information from this post. Thanks for the effort you took to expand upon this post so thoroughly. I look forward to your future post.