Thursday, April 4, 2013

Spring Cleaning #4 - general houshold cleaners, Occasional Series

Before we went out of town recently I had some work done at the apartment, so of course with workmen in I needed to give everything a spit and polish.  Since they were replacing my bathroom fan I needed to clean the bathroom and my front hall laundry area.  That is the place were you want a good cleaner that can cut through grime and leave a fresh scent.  I turned to vinegar for that.

Normally when I clean I use the vinegar left over from last season which would not longer be the best for cooking, but of course has not gone bad making it perfect for cleaning.  This year, I sold all the vinegar I made so I had to craft something for just this job.


Herbal Vinegar Spray
The spray is perfectly safe and very effective to use at full strength, but can be diluted 50/50  for lighter jobs.

Fresh or dried herbs
Distilled white vinegar

Roughly chop 1 to 2 large handfuls of fresh or dried herbs and place in a glass jar with a wide mouth and a plastic lid (good choices are lemon verbena, peppermint, rosemary, lemon balm or lavender.)  Add vinegar to fill the jar.  Replace the lid and leave for a few days or weeks to infuse. (I generally like to wait 2 weeks, but in a pinch you can heat the vinegar and herbs in the microwave let them steep for an hour or orvernight and use them for cleaning purposes with all the scent and disinfecting power you need. ) Then strain out the herbs.  Pour into a plastic stray bottle.   

Lemon Vinegar
If you love a lemony scent when cleaning, try this mixture.  For added germ fighting use regular thyme and/or sage.  This is my favorite version which i like to point out makes a killer salad dressing or marinade too!

1 1/2 c. lemon basil

Lemon grass

1 c. lemon verbena
1 c. lemon balm
1/2 c. lemon thyme sprigs
Lemon peel from one lemon
4 c. white vinegar

Place all ingredients in a large glass container and cover.  Steep for 3 to 4 weeks and strain and rebottle.  Remember do not use metal containers or metal lids.

OTHER USES for Vinegar

Once you make the vinegar you can also use it to produce a stronger disinfecting cleaner.  This one is great on soap scum in the shower and you can use the soap version to clean around the toilet and the sink. 

All-purpose Cleaner and Disinfectant

2 cups hot water
¼ cup white vinegar
½ tsp. washing soda
15 drops tea tree essential oil
15 drops lavender essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a reusable spray bottle and shake well.  To use, spray on surfaces, especially cutting boards, counter tops and toilets.  Wipe with dry cloth.  Variation: add ½ teaspoon of liquid castile soap to 2 cups of this cleaner for a great all-purpose cleaner.


Vinegar-free Cleanser
For those who do not like the slightly acid hint of vinegar, you can make this vinegar-free cleaner.  It does not keep as long, so make in small batches so you can toss it after a week or so or keep in the refirgerator for 2 to 3 weeks.

1 cup Dried or 2 cups fresh herbs
Hot water to cover
1/4 tsp. borax
Essential oil

Gather and bruise fresh or dried herbs and place in a glass jar and cover with hot water.  Allow to steep for a few days.  Strain, then add the borax and a few drops of essential oil.  Shake well and decant into spray bottles.

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