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Homespun: How to spring clean green

Homemade cleaners such as laundry soap sanitizing spray.

Homemade cleaners such as laundry soap and sanitizing spray.

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Green cleaners

Supplies Needed:

White vinegar, baking soda, liquid Castile soap, bars of Castile soap, borax, washing soda and essential oils, if desired. You’ll also need water, a spray bottle, a squeeze bottle, a cheese grater, measuring cups and a container with lids, all cleaned and emptied.

Laundry Soap:

1 bar of grated Castile soap to 1 cup each of washing soda, baking soda and borax. Mix together and store in an airtight container. Due to the concentrated nature of the soap, use 1 tablespoon per load of laundry. One cup of white vinegar makes an efficient, low-cost, eco-friendly fabric softener.

Earth Scrub:

1⅔ cups baking soda, ½ cup liquid soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s peppermint Castile soap), ½ cup water, 2 tablespoons white vinegar. Add ingredients in that order. Mix to smooth consistency. Store in a squeeze bottle (ideal) or a container with a lid. May be used to clean any surface that requires a mild abrasive.

Sanitizing Spray:

Mix one part white vinegar to four parts water. Store in a spray bottle. Add 10-15 drops of essential oils if preferred. I use tea tree oil.

Updated: March 27, 2013 2:31PM

As mid-March rolls around, I find myself uncurling from winter’s hibernation.

The snow and cold of January and February gives way to our first spring showers and soon snow-dusted yards will be speckled in butterscotch daffodils. It is on these days that I throw open all the windows in our sunroom, if for even just an hour or two, tuck my grandmother’s quilt over my lap, and leaf through the pile of seed catalogs arriving daily at our doorstep. Dreaming of my summer garden, of trellising peas and vine-ripened tomatoes blushed with sunshine, I sigh deeply knowing that my eagerness must be harnessed for a few more weeks. Soon enough, though, I’ll be tying my tresses up in a bandana, wiping my earth-covered hands on the front of my jeans and allowing freshly composted dirt to sprinkle through my fingertips.

It is also on these days that I bid farewell to winter’s stuffiness and open our home to the season to come. On these first warm days, I start by gathering all the curtains and linens from around the house, rolling up our rugs and turning off our thermostat. The windows get opened wide, delighting our cats who jump to the sills and bask in the fresh air. Next I gather my cleaning arsenal — a broom, clean cloths and the natural ingredients I pluck from our kitchen — and set to work cleansing the windows, furniture, walls and floor.

Homemade cleaners can sometimes require more elbow grease, but my home is free from strong, harsh smells and my laundry is scented naturally through the use of dryer balls and essential oils. Since switching to green cleaners, I have minimized our amount of household waste by reusing our containers and frequent headaches are a plague of the past.

The abrasive materials in many cleaners can be irritating to skin and eyes, often are carcinogenic and environmentally dangerous when improperly disposed of. My first spring task is to rid my home of contaminants. Some local pharmacies or police stations accept expired medication. Chemical-based cleaning supplies can be given away on Craigslist or Freecycle. Some cities also hold hazardous waste disposal days or visit for more ideas.

To make your own eco-friendly cleaning supplies, gather up the supplies below and set aside a quick hour.

Once your newest cleaning products have been made, toss your wintered linens in the wash with homemade laundry soap and dream of afternoons soon to come tucking seedlings into garden beds, grass stains on your knees and sheets blowing softly in the warm sun.

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