A Happy and Clean Home… Resourcefully!


“A clean house is a happy house,” my Dad would often say. Growing up, I could always find my Dad diligently moving throughout his day, tending to the cleaning needs of his home. I observed that my Dad took pride in his home by keeping it clean, and today, I work towards the same goal of keeping a (mostly) clean and happy home.

Recently, while spring cleaning, I took stock of the cleaning supplies I had on hand. Of course I have numerous store-bought brands, but what I also discovered are incognito cleaning supplies. They blend in with other household goods so well that you’d hardly notice their presence. I’d venture to say you have them hiding in your home too. Did you know that plain, ordinary grocery items serve double duty as cleaning agents? Check your cupboards, folks, because baking soda, white vinegar, lemons and olive oil are just a few finds that have been used for resourceful cleaning practices since the discovery of dirt. It’s a way to save and clean frugally, long after typical cleaning supplies have run dry.
Baking Soda. Non-toxic, multi-purposeful and cheap—baking soda is the way to go! Not only is it for baking, but it can be used for freshening up litter boxes, ash trays, smelly carpets, garbage odors and stale refrigerator smells. By combining 3 parts of baking soda to 1 part of water, it’s also handy for cleaning up grease spills, scuff marks or for wiping down toys. In turn, when replacing half of your measure of laundry detergent with baking soda in the wash cycle, you’ll keep clothing extra fresh. These are just a few ways to clean your way to a happy home with baking soda.
White Vinegar. This seemingly ordinary product costs typically under $1 a bottle, and can work wonders around the house. Try using a spray bottle combination of half vinegar, half water around to soak carpet stains, wash windows, clean toilets and wiping down kitchen surfaces. Even keeping a simple bowl of vinegar near a foul smell, will help dissipate unwanted scents. Other uses include running an empty washing machine cycle with just 1 cup of vinegar to remove soap residue from the appliance. For cleaning no-wax floors, try making a solution of 1 cup vinegar per 1 gallon of water for a shinier surface. The cleaning potentials of white vinegar are practically endless.
Lemons. In their essence, lemons symbolize cleanliness. You’ve noticed that major brands of cleaners are lemon scented, right? It’s not by accident that lemons are added into cleaning solutions. They not only smell fresh, but also are acidic and can provide some antibacterial and antiseptic properties for cleaning. A lemon slice dipped in salt can clean up copper or brass quite nicely. Adding lemons to baking soda adds an extra element of stain fighting when soaking up tough dirt spots. When added to vinegar, lemons help neutralize the vinegar smell and provide a fresh scent while you put forth all of that “elbow grease.” Finally, lemons can be used as a natural bleaching agent. Simply squirt some lemon juice on white linens or clothing and allow them to dry out in the sun.
Olive Oil. More than just a friend to Italian dishes, olive oil can buddy up with the lemon too to make excellent furniture polish. Try two parts of olive oil with one part lemon juice to leave your furniture shiny and clean. Do your floors need a shining? Break out the dry mop and polish up hardwood floors with a few drops of olive oil combined with equal drops of lemon. Finally, what should you do with dusty houseplants? Simply spray a mixture of olive oil and water on the leaves to rid the dust and give a shiny appeal.
Time tested by our ancestors before the dawn of thousands of costly cleaning products, these natural items can be the perfect economical and resourceful cleaning solutions, straight from your cupboards. I hope to make my Dad proud this spring by making my already happy house an even cleaner one!
As written for the Athens Now publication, with minor modifications.