Traditionally, spring is a time to give the home a good cleaning and a fresh look. Why not try some gentle, effective herbal cleansing blends, instead of using harsh chemicals? Make spring cleaning of furniture, floors, walls, closets and ovens a fragrant pleasure instead of a toxic chore. Not only whil your house be clean and fragrant, but you will get some wonderful herbal aromatherapy in the process.
Many herbs actually have beneficial cleaning properties. Choose the herb with the characteristics needed for each task from the following list. Then use them in the recipes given below:
Disinfectant Herbs: basil, chamomile, clary sage, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, rose geranium, thyme
Fungicide: chamomile, lemon, peppermint, rosemary, savory, tea tree, thyme
Bactericide: bay, cinnamon, eucalyptus, lavender, oregano, patchouli, rosemary, savory, tea tree, thyme
Antiseptic: all bactericide herbs above, plus basil, clary sage, clove, lemon balm, peppermint, rose geranium, sage, spearmint
Insect Repellants: basil, bay, chamomile, coriander, tansy, thyme, rosemary, peppermint, lavender
Basic Kitchen Cleanser:
In a metal or glass bowl (not plastic or wooden!!!). To 1/2 cup baking soda, add 5 drops each of the following essential oils: rosemary, thyme, cinnamon, and a citrus. Blend well. I like to use a fork to work the oils throughout the baking soda. Allow to age a day or two before using. Store in a glass container.
Dried herbs may also be used. Substitute 3 - 5 tablespoons dried (for each herb) for the oils. This will not be as potent as essential oils.
You may also use fresh herbs, instead of concentrated oils. Use 9 tablespoons chopped (each herb) to replace oil. Mash thoroughly with mortar and pestle or food processor. This will not be as potent as essential oils. Use as a powdered cleanser, wiping well with clean cloth after cleaning. Or, add a bit of water, strain, then use to make liquid cleanser.
All-purpose Liquid Cleanser:
Use fresh herbs by filling a quart jar of hot water with chosen herbs. Allow to steep for 2 days in a sunny spot. Strain, then add 2 tablespoons borax and mix well. Cleans hairbrushes and combs. Also good for walls, refrigerators, floors, china, crystal, and counters. NOTE: Do *not* use pine essential oil on painted surfaces as it sometimes removes paint!
Basic Citrus or Herbal Vinegar:
Fill a quart jar with herb of choice, or citrus peels. Cover with white vinegar. Allow to age for two weeks. Discard herbs or peels. Any citrus can be used: grapefruit, orange, lemon, lime, etc. Choose herb from chart above for desired purpose (antiseptic, fungicide, etc.).
Excellent for cleaning ovens. Spray or pour vinegar on burned-on areas. Close oven door. After two hours, wipe vinegar with sponge or cloth dipped in warm water. Repeat if necessary.
Also good for eliminating mineral deposits and soap scum in the bathroom. Cover the area with vinegar. Allow to stand for 30 minutes, then scrub and rinse. Will also remove mildew, etc. from shower curtains.
Can also be used to remove stains from carpets. Test in an inconspicuous place first to be sure that the vinegar does not lighten carpet color!
Degreaser and Glass Cleaner:
To one quart of warm water, add 4 tablespoons citrus or herbal vinegar (recipe above).
Mix 2 cups baking soda, 4 teaspoons ground cloves, 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 4 tablespoons ground mint, 4 tablespoons ground rosemary, 4 tablespoons ground lavender, and 4 tablespoons ground thyme. Dried herbs must be ground finely in blender or processor. Mix well. Sprinkle over carpet. Allow to stand 1 hour, then vacuum thoroughly. It is safe to walk on during the hour-long waiting period.