Growing up on the farm, we used vinegar as a household cleaner mostly for glass and windows. The smell of it instantly brings back memories of cleaning inside and out of the farm house windows and my Mom teetering on the ladder on the other side.
When I was pregnant with little E I became more conscious of the toxins in our house and the first thing to go was household cleaners. I started using brands like Green Works and Method. Now I use Nature Clean for dishes, but for my everyday all-purpose cleaner I use vinegar.
I picked up a couple of spray bottles from the dollar store and filled them 1/2 with water and 1/2 with vinegar. I keep one bottle in the kitchen for the counter tops and all purpose cleaning downstairs. I keep the other bottle in the bathroom upstairs and also use it after showering to spray down the shower walls and curtain to prevent mold and mildew.
I remember purchasing a ton of cleaning products when I moved away from home for the first time. It's funny how I have come back full circle again. My Vim and Windex (and their expensive prices) days are long gone. A 4 L bottle of vinegar costs me somewhere around $3 and when diluted with water I can get many spray bottles worth. How's that for saving money and not to mention, my family's health?
Another thing I axed when little E was born was plug-in air fresheners. To be honest, I used to be obsessed with them. It was hard letting go with a dog and smelly hockey equipment in the house, but I've found an even better solution. A coworker once told me she boiled her brussel sprouts in water and vinegar and it gave me the idea to research vinegar as a natural air freshener. Turns out a pot of water, vinegar and some cloves on the stove does wonders for a clean refreshing smell when the dinner smell is lingering. It worked especially well for fajita night and to remove that Lonestar smell from our small house that seemed to creep into our clothing and bath towels. Yuck. So say goodbye to toxic Glade, Air Wick and Febreeze!
I've only recently discovered the use of vinegar as a fabric softener. Although, I have tried to stay away from using dryer sheets for little E's clothing, I wanted to remove them all together in our house. 1 cup of vinegar goes in the washer and seems to be doing the trick.
And how about 2 weekends ago when little E and I came back from the farm smelling like a skunk? A little extra vinegar went into the wash with our clothes and blankets and the smell vanished. A skunk is living under my parents veranda and got into a tiff with a barn cat - it sprayed late one night before we went to bed and the smell lingered around the farm for hours. We thought we were safe until we returned to Ottawa and realized every thing smelled like skunk!
There are many other items I use, like baking soda and cornstarch. For a full list of natural cleaning ideas, check out the City of Ottawa's website under Safer Alternatives for Household Products.
Happy Spring cleaning!