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the haas machine: Creating Clean #1: Planning & Cleaning Recipes

Monday, April 8, 2013

Creating Clean #1: Planning & Cleaning Recipes

Why am I doing a series on cleaning? Good question. Although it's not something I'm super passionate about, it does get me excited to know that I'm not bringing chemicals into our house that could affect our health or the state of our environment. I super enjoy being able to save money & custom some of the cleaners according to what we like. I happen to enjoy the scent of vinegar, but John doesn't, so I make sure to add some essential oils to most of the vinegar combinations & it really helps. I like that I can have just a handful of bottles filled with homemade recipes & that they actually work.

I love being as natural & granola as possible, & I love the act of taking care of our planet, but if I had to give up cleanliness, it might be a struggle. I'm no germ-a-phobe, but any means, but I don't like clutter, disorganization, or flith. I'm not really into killing every bacteria known to us (on the contrary, I think it's good to expose our kids to some at home germs), but I am into keeping us healthy & safe.

I wanted to do a 4-post series on "creating clean" because I find having a clean-ish space really helps me accomplish the most. It helps make room for my creativity to flow because I'm not constantly frustrated by the mess around me. I'm no slave to cleaning... I do a little bit every day & focus one day a week to get most other things clean. I just wanted to share some of my tips that I've learned over the past 5 or so years since I've become greener & greener. So first, things firs... planning.

Planning to clean
Oh, how I wish I had a calendar as lovely as this! This pic is taken from Geninne's Art Blog

Yes, I plan my cleaning. I figure it’s like everything else in my life—if I don’t schedule meaningful time in my life to accomplish it, it’s not gonna happen. I also find that it gives me freedom to not worry about certain dirty things because I know in 2 days I’m going to clean it. I have come up with a system that works for me: I clean our bathrooms on Thursday mornings while Ruby is in the bathtub (a genius tip from my friend Jessica) & then I dust & clean all of the floors every Thursday afternoon during Ruby’s nap. I do a deep cleaning on other things less frequently, but they are still on my calendar (usually one of these cleaning projects once a week, for example cleaning the oven or fridge). I do this so I don’t have to think about it or remember when to clean things (do you remember the last time you washed your sheets?)

I also have a spring & fall deep cleaning list that I work from. Click here if you’d like to see that crazy list (it's available for your to download as well). It helps me remember to take a look at some of the less thought-of things to clean, like curtains, the ceiling fan, or shampooing rugs or furniture. I love this list. I’ve only used it twice so far, but it’s refreshing to me (to finish it).

Below are the basic cleaning recipes that I use & will refer to in the rest of this series (I will go into detail as to how to use them later on in the series). You really can make your own cleaners for pennies (literally, pennies!) You don’t need to buy some of the fancy green cleaners on the market, even though some of them work very well.

All of these cleaners have worked perfectly well for me, but let me say this. These cleaners work the best when they are used often, meaning that if you haven’t cleaned your toilet in 6 months & then try to dig in, it might be more of a challenge for you. I find that if I clean a little bit every week, it saves me from having to do massive, hard work cleaning.

Here is a basic list of things you will need:
  1. A bucket 
  2. Many rags for cleaning (you can use any scraps for rags—old t-shirts, old worn cloth diapers, ratty washcloths, etc.) 
  3. Dusting cloth
  4. The cheapest white vinegar you can find 
  5. Baking soda (also the cheapest is fine) 
  6. Bon Ami cleaner 
  7. Plain steel wool (found in hardware stores—NOT SOS pads) 
  8. Green liquid dish soap (my fav is Seventh Generation Lavender Floral & Mint
  9. Spray bottles 
  10. Mister bottle for air freshener 
  11. Cheap vodka for air freshener (or to drink while cleaning if you're stressed...) 
  12. Water 
  13. Essential oils of your liking (my favorite brand is Aura Cacia
  14. Funnel 
  15. Measuring cups & measuring spoons 
  16. Nice rubber gloves 
Basic Cleaning Recipes
For the cleaners contained in spray bottles, I find that it works the best to mix the ingredients in a large liquid (4 cup) measuring cup & then pour them into the spray bottles using a funnel.

Linolium or tile floor cleaner
Mix ¼ cup liquid dish soap with ½ cup of white vinegar to 2 gallons of hot water.

Hardwood floor cleaner
Mix ½ cup of white vinegar to 2 gallons of hot water.

Dusting cleaner
I still use a bit of purchased cleaning stuff (EcoSense Rustic Touch), but more often than not, I just use a dry dusting cloth to clean off surfaces.

Window/glass cleaner
White vinegar in a spray bottle with a clean rag. You can add essential oils if you don’t like the smell of vinegar.

Scrubby cleaner
Baking soda (alternatively, you could use Bon Ami, which is super cheap), in combination with water &/or white vinegar & steel wool (to scrub)

Toilet cleaner
Baking soda & white vinegar (vinegar in an old toilet bowl cleaner container).

Basic disinfectant spray (for bathroom, counter tops, etc.)
Mix 2 tbsp white vinegar, ½ tsp liquid dish soap, 1 tbsp baking soda, with 2 cups warm water. Add several drops of your favorite essential oils (I like peppermint & lavender, also tea tree oil is said to have anti-fungal & anti-viral properties).

Air fresheners
Mix 1 cup of water with 2 tbsp of cheap vodka & up to 20 drops of essential oil (such as lavender & spearmint, or any desirable combination) to a mister bottle.

Good alternatives to making your own
So maybe you’re just not into making your own cleaners, that’s ok. There are plenty of great alternatives, they will just cost you more. Before making my own, here were some of my favorite green cleaning products (with links):
Also, I have tried to make my own dishwasher & dish soap, but haven’t liked the outcomes of either. We have really hard water (with no water softener), but have found that our dishes are able to get clean with Ecover’s powdered dishwasher soap. I also stick white vinegar in the spot where “jet dry” type products are supposed to go (it helps keep the glasses clear). We use Seventh Generation dish soap for all of the dishes that are hand-washed.

That's mostly it for preparation & cleaning recipes. Stay tuned for the next post in the series about kitchen organization!

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At April 9, 2013 at 4:57 AM , Blogger Radag Shed said...

Thank you so much for sharing creative resource for cleaning. It’s really helpful.
Carpet Cleaning Waxahachie TX

At April 9, 2013 at 12:39 PM , Blogger Gillian @ thehaasmachine said...

Thank you for your encouragement! I hope they will be useful to you.


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