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Old-Fashioned Spring Cleaning

 
Valle Crucis Park Work Day

 

No one deep-cleaned like my grandma. She would gather her good old reliables, her trusted cleaning supplies she’d used since they were invented probably, and with her patented elbow grease and will power, she’d refresh, restore, and renew the whole house in one day.

I dreaded that day because it meant I had to help. But Granny made it fun—we’d have cleaning competitions, and I’d work my little heart out trying to win nothing more than the honor of having beat her. Somehow, I think, without ever reading Huck Finn, she’d gotten me to paint a lot of fences. Granny turned me into a cleaning machine each spring. But some of the credit goes to those tried-and-true staples she insisted we use. And today, those are still some of the best cleaning products you can make or buy.

Here’s what we love to use to get our spring cleaning done right. We think you’ll love these products and homemade recipes as much as Granny did.

Windows   

Not only did Granny clean indoors, she took her cleaning outside. Windows' inside and outside glass and sills got a thorough grime-blasting. She made sure to get every nook and cranny spotless.

Granny used a lot of homemade cleaners. No Windex? No problem. She would simply mix up some white vinegar and water and spray down the glass. Today, I use that same technique because I avoid chemicals as much as possible; however, I throw in a little extra something to amp up the antimicrobial, antibacterial, and pleasing properties-- essential oils. For window and surface cleaning, I mainly use citrus oils, lavender, Thieves blend, and tea tree (Mel A). Here's my Gran's modified recipe:

Window Cleaner*

In a glass spray bottle, combine:

  • 1/3 Cup White Vinegar 
  • 1 1/3 Cups Distilled Water
  • 15 Drops Orange Essential Oil  

*Do not use on fabrics or plastics. Don’t use vinegar on granite (it pits the surface/removes finish). 
 

Flimsies

Spring cleaning meant hauling out clothes to refresh too. Granny was particular about her unmentionables. They were always washed separately from the other laundry. If it was a delicate fabric, it got the light touch and the care of handwashing. She used a washboard small enough to fit in the sink, like the one pictured above. Click HERE to read all about it.

 

Floors and Countertops

Surfaces need specific care. Take care of each one as directed. And if you have grout, you know how difficult that is to keep clean. We have a super simple solution that will bust out that grime in no time.

Grout Cleaner

  • 1/2 Cup Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Cup Hydrogen Peroxide
  • 1 Tablespoon Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap

Pour baking soda into a squeeze bottle. Mix in hydrogen peroxide. Add soap. Mix gently. 


Airing Out

A spring-cleaning tradition is the "airing out" of fabrics, furniture, rooms, etc. Anything that could use a little freshening up gets taken outside in the sunshine and fresh air for a good beating (rugs, bedspreads, tapestries, curtains, etc.) or a nice wash and hang on the clothesline. There's nothing like the rays of the sun and the spring breeze to refresh everything. For added good scents, try misting rooms with essential oil blends. If you have a diffuser, use a nice citrus and lavender combo to clean the air. If not, simply add distilled water, desired oils, and a pinch of rock salt to a glass spray bottle. Shake and spray as needed. 

But you can't beat throwing open all the doors and windows and letting in that fresh air for hours, all day when we cleaned. We didn't shut down until dusk, and the house smelled so good-- just felt cleaner and fresher. 

Faux Breeze 

Mix the following into a glass spray bottle.

  • 15 drops Lavender Essential Oil
  • 12 ounces distilled water

Shake gently before spraying. Mist onto fabrics that cannot be removed or taken outside, like heavy curtains.

Room Spray

Mix the following into a glass spray bottle.

  • A few salt rocks (small) or a pinch of sea salt
  • 5 drops Bergamot Essential Oil
  • 5 drops Lavender Essential Oil
  • 5 drops Grapefruit Essential Oil
  • 12 ounces distilled water

Shake gently before spraying. Mist in rooms. Do not apply to fabrics.

 

Taking Care of the Porcelain  

When it comes to toilets, sinks, showers, or tubs, elbow grease is, unfortunately, usually the key. But you can have some great helpers, like this homemade soft scrub. It's a great alternative to harsher store-bought cleaners.

Homemade Soft Scrub

  • 1/2 Cup Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap
  • 1 2/3 Cup Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Cup Distilled Water
  • 1/8 Cup Vinegar
  • Optional, 5 drops Peppermint Essential Oil 

Mix baking soda and castile soap into a paste, then add water and mix. Finally, add the vinegar. The mixture will foam. Mix until lumps are gone. Pour into a squeeze bottle. 
Use a nice homespun cloth (left) to wipe down surfaces.

 

Wiping Down the Furniture, the Walls, Anything Needing a Dusting

Essential to the spring clean is the wiping down of walls, furniture, and anything needing a good surface cleaning. Even the ceilings! Granny stressed the importance of dusting and wiping the ceiling just like the walls. Dust and oils from cooking are two culprits you might find on the walls and ceiling. She used a well-wrung-out rag on an improvised stick or tied to a broom end. Today, Swiffer probably has something you can use to get those jobs done, but you don't have to use their cleaning solutions. A simple bucket o' water with a teaspoon of castile soap is a good solution for that almost-dry wipe-down the walls and ceilings will need. 
 

Purge/Closets

When you're in cleaning mode, it's a good time to look at what you no longer use and donate those things to others who can give them new purpose. Granny would sort clothes and other household items into piles for good items to give away and things that should be tossed, recycled, or made into cleaning rags, rag rugs, quilts, etc. Things got repurposed a lot in Granny's household. Some of those rugs and quilts found homes at baby showers or house warmings or just as good gifts to family, friends, or a shut-in neighbor.

Spring is the perfect time for the refresh that a good cleaning will give your home and your spirit. Snuggling down in lavender-scented sheets that have been aired out in the sun for hours is simply priceless. We hope these tips and techniques will help you get your clean on. Happy Spring!

**Caution: Do not use certain essential oils around pets. Read and follow all Essential Oil labels and guidelines. If you have an allergy to any oil, do not use it. Peppermint oil is considered a "hot" oil. Do not use it neat (without diluting) on your skin.