Not-Quite-Spring Cleaning with Homemade Cleaning ProductsIt may still be winter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a head start on your spring cleaning. After all, who wants to spend the warmer, sunnier months indoors scrubbing all day? Continuing from our theme last week, today we have some great non-edible uses for food scraps. Instead of tossing these small bits of organic waste, why not give them a second life and put them to use cleaning your house. Of course, if you don’t have time or need for them at the moment, most of these items can be frozen for future use. Waste not, want not!

As per the edible options from the previous post, aim to use organic foods in these applications, and make sure to clean them well. If you wouldn’t want to eat it, do you really want to use it to clean household items you come into regular contact with or even prepare food in?

  1. Clean greasy messes. Before bringing out the big (and often toxic) cleaning guns, try some all-natural lemon. The acidic nature of this kitchen staple means it can be used for some very effective cleaning, and even leave your house smelling citrus fresh! Sprinkle dirty surfaces with salt or baking soda to act as an abrasive, which helps get rid of tough, caked-on spills. Then rub with juiced lemon halves leftover from cooking and baking. Warning: be careful using lemon on sensitive surfaces such as marble, and when in doubt, search online to see if the harshness of lemon will damage a particular material. Most plastic, laminate, or otherwise treated surfaces should be just fine, though.
  2. Shine your coffee pot. Use this old-school diner trick to make glass coffee pots look clear and beautiful as new. Just add ice, salt, and lemon rinds to the coffee pot when it’s empty and cool. Swirl the contents around for a minute or two, then drain and rinse out. You can even pour the contents into your stained coffee mugs and use it a second time to help remove that brownish build-up on the sides. Two for one!
  3. Clean your tea kettle. Mineral deposit build up in tea kettles can make them work less efficiently and change the taste of the water you boil in them. For the best pot of tea possible, they need to be descaled every few months (or sooner if you make a lot of tea). To accomplish this, fill the kettle with water and either a handful of lemon peels or the last of a bottle of white vinegar and bring to a boil. Turn off heat if your kettle doesn’t do so automatically. Let it rest for an hour to work its magic and cool down a bit. Drain the entire contents of the kettle and rinse. Then pour in fresh water, and bring to a boil again. Pour this boiled water out before using the kettle to make tea. This will ensure the cleanest possible kettle!
  4. Whiten your laundry. Eggshells are an incredibly versatile substance which most people throw out. When doing a load of whites, eggshells can act as an effective, all-natural alternative to bleach or other commercial fabric whiteners. Put thoroughly washed out shell pieces into a tightly woven fabric bag (hemp, thick linen, or cotton bags all work well), close it securely, and toss into the barrel of your washing machine with the sheets, socks, and whatever other light colored laundry you’ll be doing. The shells will brighten previously dingy white fabrics and restore them to their proper shade.
  5. Control garden pests. While not exactly a cleaning product, this second application for eggshells can help save you headaches outdoors. If you find that slugs or squirrels enjoy feasting on your vegetable harvest, spread small chunks of broken up shells around the plants on top of the soil. The shells don’t have any chemical properties which provide protection from pests, but their sharp edges are an effective deterrent to larger sized pests and a distraction to smaller ones which may opt to eat them instead of your plants.

Hopefully some of these ideas will be of use to you the next time the urge to get the place sparkling clean arises. It’s not hard to be green and reduce the amount of potentially harmful store-bought cleaning products you use. Not only will you be saving money, you’ll also be saving the planet. Now that’s what I call win-win!

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