DIY cleaners

[attach]4079[/attach]Spring cleaning is an annual rite of passage — maybe because we can see so much better in the sunshine, or maybe because we feel more energetic when we’re not constantly weighted down by coats and boots and hats.

And then, there are those family gatherings looming: Passover, Easter, Mother’s Day, graduation and weddings. All are reasons for a good scrub around the house.

The downside of cleaning is that, these days, some commercial products are downright nauseating.

I remember the mid-range London hotel, where we slept with the window open at night because their strong-scented cleaning products overpowered our pure Canadian lungs. Then there was the neighbour whose dryer exhaust carried the cloying scent of fabric softener over nearby gardens and patios.

It just ain’t necessary, folks. In these days of rampant chemical sensitivities, you don’t need phoney aromas to be squeaky clean.

Even if you don’t have kids or environmental sensitivities, you might want to cut down on the chemicals you send down the drain and into the water supply. After all, you’re going to drink that stuff eventually, so why put the extra load on water purification systems?

Bonus: You may even save money using these simple, homemade cleaning methods.

What you’ll need

• White vinegar — lots and lots of it
• Baking soda
• Borax (a natural powder that cleans and disinfects)
• Cream of tartar (a powdered, natural by-product of wine-making, found in grocery baking sections and bulk food stores)
• Clean, soft rags for cleaning and dusting (flannel shirts with buttons cut off, t-shirts and old diapers work well)
• Several empty, clean spray bottles for the solutions you’ll make
• Old newspapers, for window cleaning
• Nylon scrubbing pads
• Microfibre cloths
• Small bottles of your favourite essential oils (lavender, rose, and neroli are nice). Add a few drops to vinegar solutions if scent is too “vinegary”

Make-it-yourself healthy cleaners

General-purpose cleaner

• 2 parts borax mixed with 1 part baking soda. Sprinkle on, scrub with damp cloth/sponge and wipe dry.
• 30–60 ml white vinegar or 125 ml borax mixed in 3 litres of boiling water.
• 15–60 ml baking soda dissolved in 1 litre of water. Spray on hard surfaces and wipe.

Disinfecting cleaner

• 125 ml borax in 4 litres of warm water.
• 10 ml borax, 60 ml vinegar and 750 ml of hot water.

Toilet cleaner

• Add 60 ml vinegar and 250 ml borax to toilet bowl and leave overnight, then scrub with a brush.
• Spray or pour white vinegar around sides of bowl (add a sprinkle of baking soda, if you like) and scrub with a brush. To freshen, add 500 ml vinegar to toilet bowl and let stand 8 hours or overnight.

Sinks, tubs and tile cleaner

• Use a nylon scrubbing pad, a little soap and some elbow grease.
• Dampen enamel sink/tub, sprinkle cream of tartar on stained spots. Let stand, then scrub entire surface.
• Mix baking soda, salt and borax. Shake on damp enamel surface and scrub.
• Add 60 ml vinegar to 3 litres of water and spray/wipe on.

Stainless steel sinks/appliances cleaner

• Use baking soda and water general-purpose cleaner.
• Moisten cloth with white vinegar and wipe surface.

Window cleaner

• Mix equal parts water and vinegar, spray on and wipe with black-and-white newspaper. If streaks appear, add a dash of dish soap and repeat.