Spring Clean, Part Two- White Vinegar

by Lori Dwyer on October 1, 2012 · 5 comments

As per reader request– hiya, kristib-, I’m sharing my special secret passed down through the generations au naturel house cleaning recipes. (Kind of not really. Read ‘secret’ and ‘passed down through generations’ as ‘becoming more and more well known’ and ‘passed down through online parenting forums’ and that’s closer).

Allow me to begin this post with a disclaimer– I am a massive hypocrite. I’m aware of that. I’m a filthy smoker and I ingest more Coca–Cola than is probably good for a person. But, ya know, harm minimization is the point here. Or guilt minimization, whichever is more accurate.

But I make some attempt to replace a lot of the chemical cleaners and products in my house with slightly more natural– and far cheaper– alternatives.

There are a few products that clean pretty much everything and I’ve used since I was pregnant the first time round. Here’s a short shopping list…

White vinegar
Bi carb soda
Soluble lavender oil, tea tree solution, and eucalyptus oil.
(While these are more ‘natural’ than traditional chemical cleaners, the oils themselves can be toxic. Store and use them in the same manner you would regular cleaning products– carefully!)
Rags. Lotsa rags. Your old clothes, ripped up, will do just fine. I know packets of disposable waffle cloth things are really cheap, but they take resources to make… it seems a travesty to buy them wand throw out clothes too old to be worn, but not old to be cleaned with.

And that’s, really, about all you need. Apart from those products– and the rags, obviously– I really only ever buy dishwasher tablets (some people swear by replacing them with bicarb, but I just cannot get it to make things sparkle) and a bottle of Domestos every six months or so– as much as I like natural products, a splash of something bleach–based and nasty smelling does wonders for icky black mould build ups around taps and inevitable toilet smells. (Boy pee… what is it with boy pee…?)

White vinegar- the shizzle.

Vinegar breaks down grease and other solids. Bicarbonate removes smells and mixes with vinegar to remove heavier spills, bath rings, etc. Tea Tree solution is a natural antiseptic. Eucalyptus oil breaks down grease and creates shine, as well as disinfecting. Lavender is a relaxant and a natural anti histamine. And besides that, it smells gorgeous.

With those in place, there are a few basic recipes that I keep on hand– buy some plastic refillable spray bottles and fill with the following…

One part vinegar, one part water, three–five drops of eucalyptus oil, three drops of tea tree solution.
This is an all round cleaning solution, especially good for table tops, benches, etc.

Water, plus five drops lavender oil.
A ’sleep spray’ that I use when I change bed sheets. Has also been known to double as a ’monster–scaring’ spray to scare any monsters in cupboards away.

Water, plus five drops of each lavender, eucalyptus, teat tree oil.
Deodorizer and disinfectant. Especially good for a last spray when cleaning up cat vomit or milk spilt on the lounge.

Once you get your head around what each of the products does, you can apply them to pretty much anything that needs cleaning. I use white vinegar as a rinse aid in my dishwasher, and a two cups of white vinegar in an empty washing machine run on a hot water cycle will give all it’s insides a degrease. A cup of bi carb followed by a cup or three of white vinegar will solve a lot of minor drain blockages just by eating away the accumulated gunk, especially in bathroom drains where it’s often a mixture of dead skin cells, body oil and soap fats that clod shower drains and sinks.

Bi carbonate soda can be sprinkled over lounges, car seats, shoes, clothes– pretty much any soft furnishing– that needs refreshing or deodorizing. Just sprinkle on, stand back and admire the ‘it’s snowing inside!’ effect leave for an hour– or two or nine, depending on how much stench needs removing– then vacuum up again. (Erm… speaking from experience, do make sure your vacuum is of the powerful variety before you do this one. A ninety nine dollar, no suction job makes for gritty, icky lounge chairs and very unhappy flatmates.)

The oils are multipurpose and, using common sense, can also be applied to pretty much anything. I put a few drops of lavender oil in with my Big Spring Clean Wash and Wash and Wash. A capful of tea tree oil freshens up toilet bowl water in case of fussy guests. Wiping down benchtops with eucalyptus deters cats from jumping on them, ants from walking on them and germs from breeding on them.

Talcum powder is also an awesome ant deterrent, as is corn starch if you have no talc on hand. Corn starch also gets dusted around the garden of the Tiny Train House– it’s a chemical free way to stop ugly green caterpillars feasting on the tomato plants. Garlic gloves are spread equally liberally, to make potential strawberry–eating bugs wrinkle their noses in distaste and move on.

The worst place to clean in the house is always the bathroom– sometimes vinegar just doesn’t cut it. But microfiber clothes do amazing things and remove most things the vinegar and bicarbonate wont. Except the mould. And I refuse to put my hand in the really icky bits of a toilet bowl, even if it is covered in gloves and cloths. Which is where that love of good old fashioned hardcore Domestos comes in.

So… that’s that. Lori The Massive Hippy Hypocrite’s Almost Chemical Free House To Compliment Her Over–Polluted Body.

I’ve let a few questions from various readers pile up over the last few weeks, so it’s Question And Answer Week here on RRSAHM. Anything you want to know, ask away in the comments– if it’s something I’ve covered previously I’ll leave you a link to the post.

Think of it as Show And Tell…only not quite.

Happy Spring Cleaning, jellybeans.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

kristib October 1, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Thank you so much! <3


Carly Findlay October 1, 2012 at 11:03 am

Sheesh my grammar is bad. What is a good remedy for moths/silverside? I mean silverfish hahah!


Carly Findlay October 1, 2012 at 11:02 am

Tell me Lori what a good remedy for moths / silverfish is?
I get holey clothes and I can't use chemicals. Thank you!


Kimmie October 1, 2012 at 8:49 am

Large bags of soft clean recycled rags can be purchased ridiculously cheap at Bunnings. Located near their paint section methinks the sale of these supports certain charities. They are fabulous to have on hand for all manner of cleaning jobs and can then either be ditched or washed and reused.

I am hearing you re homemade dishwasher powder although recently a blog friend posted this recipe that is supposed to work well. Planning on giving it a whirl myself this week.



Spagsy October 1, 2012 at 8:13 am

I also recommend the spotless books. You would dig the rolled oats in the end of panty hose stain ball. Trick.


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