By Lynnie Stein / September 9, 2022

Granny’s Spring Cleaning Recipes

When it comes down to it, do-it-yourself cleaning using Grandma’s tried-and-true kitchen cupboard ingredients is still the best green practice. Simple, successful and natural. Anecdotal evidence indicates that our Granny was a lot wiser with our environment than we think.

Not only was Granny’s Spring cleaning low on pollution, they were low on cost and extremely effective, compared to the mass produced chemicals we see on the supermarket shelves today.

Top 10 Spring Cleaning Products

  • Baking Soda – unsung hero of many a home – – and many a household product – – not only can bicarb (baking soda) be used to bake up a treat, but is very effective in deodorant, toothpaste and detergent.
  • Absorbs odours – cupboards, rugs and keep a box in the refrigerator.
  • Baking soda is a great all-purpose, non-toxic cleaner.
  • It cleans, deodorizes, scours, polishes and removes stains.
  • One of the most useful inexpensive cleaners for bathroom scouring powder, water softener, chrome polisher, bicarb and a damp cloth for all the kitchen cleaning – fridge, oven, hot plates, china, crockery.
  • Cleans teeth and keeps body odour away – for a very effective deodorant – use a shaving brush and brush sparingly under arm area.
  • Baking soda serves as a safe, light bleach.
  • A baking soda and salt mixture can also restore the shine of dingy teeth (dip a wet toothbrush into 1/4 teaspoon soda and sprinkle with up to 1/8 teaspoon salt) as effectively as it polishes your pots and pans.
  • However, straight baking soda is safer for people on no-salt diets.
  • Borax – deodorizes, removes stains and boosts the cleaning power of soap, very handy in laundry mixes.
  • It also prevents mould and odours.
  • Great alternative for those who do not want to use bleach.
  • Borax makes an old enamel bath look like new.
  • Distilled white vinegar – disinfects and breaks up dirt — choose white vinegar over apple cider or red vinegars, as these might stain surfaces.
  • Removes mildew, stains, grease and wax build-up.
  • Remove limescale from the bathroom.
  • Simply add vinegar to a bowl with water, submerge a cloth, wrap it around the tap and leave for 30 minutes.
  • After that remove the cloth and wipe the affected area, and the stains will be easily banished without scrubbing.

Mix vinegar with your leftover lemon peels, a dash of dish washing soap and top with water in a spray bottle for an all purpose cleaner.

  • Hydrogen Peroxide – disinfects and bleaches.
  • Using hydrogen peroxide 3% in your laundry instead of bleach will whiten clothes.
  • Keep a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide near your washing machine as an alternative stain remover.
  • Lemons – cut grease; bottled lemon juice also works well, although you might need to use a bit more to get the same results.
  • Rub on wooden / bamboo chopping board and dry in sun / mix with salt to remove mould and a degreaser …lemon juice and baking soda is great for removing mould.
  • Hand Cleaner, Softener, and Odour Remover – To cleanse and soften the hands after washing dishes or to remove vegetable stains, rub hands well with lemon juice.
  • It will also remove strong odours such as onions and fish from the hands.
  • 6. Olive oil – picks up dirt and polishes wood; cheaper grades work well.
  • 7. Corn-starch – cleans and deodorizes carpets and rugs.
  • 8. Salt – regular table salt makes an abrasive, but gentle, scouring powder.

9. Vegetable based (liquid castile) soap –  non-petroleum all-purpose cleaner

.Cleans almost anything and is mild. All purpose scrub recipe below.

10. Washing soda – stain remover, general cleaner, helps unblock pipes; should be handled with gloves due to its caustic nature.

  • Washing soda is usually found in the laundry aisle of grocery and drug stores.
  • Don’t forget to pick up an empty spray bottle at the hardware store, or recycle milk jugs.
  • Be sure to label each container with the ingredients and purpose.
  • Store out of reach of children.
  • Keep those old rags, newspapers and used toothbrushes for wiping up, scrubbing and cleaning glass and windows.
  • Recycled Spring Cleaning Tools
  • Socks – make a hard-to-reach cleaning stick.
  • Get a ruler (the longer the better) and slip the sock over the end.
  • Attach with an elastic band or staple.
  • Use this to run underneath stoves, fridges, and other hard to reach places.
  • The sock-covered ruler will return lots of fluff and dust and it is easy to wash the sock after each use. Reuse old sports or woollen socks as polishers.
  • Walk around the house with a sock on your hand.
  • A slightly damp sock will help to prevent dust rising while dusting.
  • Make garden soap holders.
  • Gardening can be messy and dirty.
  • Pop a natural soap bar into the bottom of an old sock and tie a knot around the soap part of the sock.
  • Leave the long part of the sock for tying onto a faucet in the garden.
  • It will be ready for you whenever you need to clean up outside after a gardening session.
  • Wash the car or bike.
  • A sock over the hand and you have an instant cleaning cloth that is soft enough for the car body or bike frame.
  • Use one for washing and one for buffing.
  • Make a dishrag by cutting the cuff off an old sock and cut the remaining portion of the sock open so it lays flat.
  • Take the cuff that is leftover from the dishrag and cut it into rings about a half inch wide and use the rings to make a potholder.
  • Alternate colours for more pizzazz.
  • Socks are great for cleaning walls, especially textured walls (sponges break off little pieces when you try to scrub textured walls).

Scrubbers – cut up pieces of mesh potato bags and tie into a small ball – works great for scouring dishes!

  • Towels – cut up old towels and use for dish cloths.
  • Folded several times it will serve as a kneeling pad for ‘hands and knees’ jobs, a ‘wiper up’ of spills.
  • Then there’s the dusting mitt. Trace around the hand, allowing about 3 cm for easy fit, using as a pattern. Cut out two pieces the same, seam together and great for getting into those awkward places on the book shelves and handling those time consuming little ornaments.
  • Mop – to make a new mop head, try cutting up strips of old towels, cotton T shirts or socks. Rubber band or tie the top ends of the strips together, then secure to the mop stick.
  • Toothbrushes –  You can use old toothbrushes to scrub floors, stains on clothing, around taps and more!
  • Window Cleaner – Newspaper works well to clean windows. You can also try old cloth diapers.
  • Air Freshener
    The best source is of course, fresh air, pot-pourrie are nice made from dried flower petals, spices and natural oils or try a few drops of aromatic oil on the light bulb, the heat will diffuse the fragrance.
  • Use fresh flowers and herbs. Plants especially spider plants are said to have a tonic effect on the air.
  • Oil burners with essential oils.
  • Leave a opened box of baking soda in the room.
  • Cloves and cinnamon added to boiling water and let simmer.
  • Carpet Cleaners
    For deodorizing baking soda or corn-starch on carpet, using about one cup per medium sized room. Vacuum after 30 minutes.
  • For deodorizing: mix two parts cornmeal with one part borax; sprinkle liberally, leave for one hour, then vacuum. To soak up big spills – dump cornmeal on the spill; after 5-15 minutes, sweep into a dustpan, then vacuum. Put 1/4 cup liquid soap or detergent in the blender with 1/3 cup water. Blend until foamy. Use this to clean spots on carpet, then rinse with vinegar.
    Copper Cleaner
    Pour vinegar and salt over copper and rub.
    Metal Polish
    One tablespoon each of flour, salt, white vinegar. Combine salt and flour in small bowl and stir until blended. Add the vinegar and mix into paste. Smear on the paste with a damp sponge or cloth and rub gently. Let the polish dry for about an hour. Rinse well with warm water, buff dry with a soft cloth. (for brass, bronze, copper and pewter; DO NOT use on silver, silver plate or jewellery).
  • Silver Polish
  • Rub article with toothpaste and soft cloth. Rinse with warm water and dry. Place cut-up aluminum foil in jar with water, add about one tablespoon salt, mix. Place article in solution for 5-15 minutes. Remove and rub with soft cloth.
  • For sparkling silver, Gran popped a piece of chalk in the cabinet – it stopped tarnishing and absorbed moisture.
  • Oven Cleaner
    Sprinkle salt on spills when they are warm and scrub.
    Mix 3 tablespoons washing soda with one quart warm water.
    Use oven liners (trays) to catch spills and prevent a messy oven.
    Rub gently with steel wool.
  • Microwave Cleaner
    Heat one cup of vinegar in a microwavable bowl for 1-2 minutes (should steam and loosen food inside of the microwave). Wipe out with a washcloth and warm soapy water.
  • Ban the furniture polish and make up very similar to a salad dressing, a mixture of one part lemon juice with 2 parts olive oil, rub on furniture with a soft cloth for a beautiful shine and fragrance (try adding a few drops of lavender essential oil).
    – Mix 3 parts olive oil with 1 part vinegar. Use a soft cloth.
  • Floor Cleaner 
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Filtered water
  • Essential oil (optional) 
  • Fill a clean 16-ounce spray bottle with equal amounts vinegar and water. Add 15 to 20 drops essential oil (try peppermint) mix.
  • To use: spray on floor and wipe with a clean rag or mop. This cleaner can be used on wood, ceramic tiles, and vinyl.
  • Wood Floor Wax / Cleaner
  • Equal portions of oil and vinegar. Apply thin coat and rub in well.
  • Painted wooden floors can be washed with one teaspoon washing soda per gallon of hot water. Rinse with clear water.

Gran used leftover cold tea to clean varnished floors and woodwork.

Granny’s Spring Cleaning Recipes – Low Cost Living
  • All-Purpose Scrub
    This superstar formula is as good for cleaning the kitchen sink, counters etc and the bathtub as it is for stainless steel appliances and shower stalls.
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
    Enough liquid castile soap to make a frosting / icing-like consistency
    5 drops antibacterial essential oil such as lavender, tea tree oil, or rosemary (optional)
  • Pour the baking soda in a bowl, slowly pour in the liquid soap or detergent, stirring all the while, until the consistency reaches that of frosting. Scoop the creamy mixture onto a sponge, wash the surface, and rinse.
  • All-Purpose Cleaner 1 litre water 200ml vinegar 40ml detergent 40ml eucalyptus oil
  • 2 dessert spoons of washing soda
  • Mix all in a spray bottle and use as a general household cleaner – or dilute in water to use as a floor cleaner.
  • Toilet Cleaner and Deodorizer  strong solution of vinegar.
  • Vinegar is astonishing as an acidic cleaning powerhouse.
  • Heinz references studies that say vinegar kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, and 80 percent of germs.
  • Use pure 5% vinegar in the toilet bowl to get rid of rings.
  • Flush the toilet to allow the water level to go down.
  • Pour the undiluted vinegar around the inside of the rim.
  • Scrub down the bowl.
  • Mop the floor in the bathroom with a vinegar/water solution.
  • The substance will also eat away the soap scum and hard water stains on your fixtures and tiles. Make sure it is safe to use with your tiles.
  • Mix a solution of 1 part water to 1 part vinegar in a spray bottle and you have a solution that will clean most areas of your home.
  • Vinegar is a great natural cleaning product as well as a disinfectant and deodorizer.
  • Always test on an inconspicuous area.
  • It is safe to use on most surfaces and has the added bonus of being incredibly cheap. Improperly diluted vinegar is acidic and can eat away at tile grout.
  • Never use vinegar on marble surfaces.
  • Don’t worry about your home smelling like vinegar.
  • The smell disappears when it dries.
  • Drain Cleaner Pour 1/2 cup baking soda, followed by 1/2 cup vinegar down sink, put plug in for a few minutes, run hot water down.
  • Dishwashing When it’s kept in an attractive glass bottle, dishwashing liquid doesn’t have to stay hidden beneath the sink.
  • Decorative bottles and pour spouts are available at housewares stores and check thrift stores and garage sales.
  • Vintage and wine bottles work well, as long as they are perfectly clean.
  • Simply fill the bottle with dishwashing liquid, and top with the spout.
  • Then make your own detergent and hand soap or buy your eco-friendly detergent in quantity, and refill the bottle as necessary.
  • Castile soap
  • White vinegar 
  • Wash dishes in one dishpan filled with a mix of water and castile soap, then rinse in a separate pan containing a mix of water and vinegar (a 3-to-1 water-to-vinegar ratio works well).
  • Dishwashing Gel 1/2 pound plain natural soap  – African black soap / Castile soap is vegetable-based (Natural soap is made from animal and/or vegetable oils and butters.
  • A tallow soap is the term used for animal fat soaps).
  • 1/2 gallon water
  •  Grate soap into flakes and place in large pot with water. Stir to dissolve flakes. Boil 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Pour into a glass jar and allow to cool without a lid.
  • Once cool, cover to prevent soap from drying out.
  • As soap sits it will thicken to a gel consistency.
  • To use, pour into a spray bottle, filling bottle 1/4 full.
  • Fill bottle with hot water and shake before using.

Liquid Soap

  • Use liquid soap in many ways around the home.
  • Place  in a hand pump dispenser for easy use near the sink.
  • Another idea is to place one or two drops in a spray bottle of warm water and use it as a general cleaning spray.
  • You can clean fine washables in liquid soap.
  • Your liquid soap can be used on any washable surface.
  • Eucalyptus Mint All Purpose Soft Soap for Kitchen, Bath and Hands
  • 1 cup liquid natural soap
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon borax
  • 6 cups hot peppermint tea
  • 1 teaspoon eucalyptus essential oil 
  • Add mint tea to liquid soap, stir to mix well. Add baking soda, borax and eucalyptus oil. Shake before using. This soap can be used for washing floors, tubs, appliances, hands, etc.
  • Liquid All Purpose Soap
  • Add grated or sliced natural soap to hot water.
  • Heat one gallon of distilled water (16 cups).
  • Use as little as three cups for a thick consistency.
  • The water does not have to boil, should be heated enough to steam. This temperature is sufficient to melt the sliced or grated soap.
  • When the distilled water is almost boiling, add the grated or sliced soap.
  • Remove the mixture from the heat.
  • The soap will melt on its own at this point.
  • Leave to sit for fifteen minutes. Blend with a hand mixer. Stir and mix until the soap is completely melted and sit overnight.
  • The next day, blend one more time and let set for ten minutes and then blend again.
  • The liquid soap should now be thickened and ready to use.
  • Individualize liquid soap with favourite herbs and other natural skin soothing ingredients.
  • Substitute herbal tea as the hot liquid in which sliced or grated soap is melted.
  • Green tea is a skin tonic with antioxidants and peppermint offers a lively and revitalizing scent. Chamomile is known for  its soothing properties.
  • The addition of two teaspoons of honey for its skin nourishing and protecting benefits.
  • Blend in two teaspoons of coconut oil to warm liquid soap to boost lather and for skin conditioning effects.
  • Add favourite essential oils.

Use liquid soap for a variety of both personal and household uses.

Window Cleaners
1/4 cup distilled white 5% vinegar + 1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent + 2 cups filtered water + essential oil (optional).

  • Mix soap and water in a clean 16-ounce spray bottle.
  • Add vinegar and essential oil (try lemon).
  • Combine in a spray bottle.
  • Shake to blend.
  • Spray windows and either squeezee off or wipe with microfibre cloth.
  • After a few times of cleaning, omit the soap (which removes the waxy residue left behind by conventional cleaners) and switch to 1/2 cup of vinegar mixed with 2 cups of water just mix and scrub.
  • Once it is made with the soap or detergent you can double it up as a great degreaser, especially handy in the kitchen. 
  • Use straight lemon juice, dry with soft cloth.
  • Use plain Soda Water (best mirror cleaner).
  • Juice of 1 lemon + 2 cups water or club soda + 1/2 teaspoon peppermint essential oil + 1 teaspoon corn-starch.
  • Mix all ingredients and pour into a spray bottle.
  • Shake well before using.

Laundry Liquid Detergent 

  • 1 oz. liquid castile soap 1/2 cup washing soda
  • 1/2 cup borax 1/4 cup baking soda or 1/4 cup white vinegar 
  • Using the liquid castile soap as a base, combine with washing soda, borax (for stains and bleaching), and either baking soda (reduces static and softens fabrics) or white vinegar (softens fabrics, reduces static and bleaches clothes).
  • If you feel like your clothes aren’t clean enough, play around with the amount of liquid castile soap, using from 1 oz. to 1 cup. 
  • Use washing soda or soap in place of detergent.
  • Mix detergent half and half with baking soda (use 1/2 the recommended amount of detergent).

Make a paste of washing soda and water for dirty spots.

A moistened bar of natural soap works as an excellent stain stick.

Laundry Powder  Detergent 

  • 5 cups soap flakes, 7 cups of Borax; you can store this in an old laundry detergent box or recycle a container, and to wash, use only 1/2 cup at a time – make sure to shake to mix up the soda and borax with the flakes. (for hard water, add 3.5 cups of washing soda to mixture).
  • Fabric Softener Use vinegar as a natural fabric softener.
  • Add ½ cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle in place of store bought fabric softener.
  • Vinegar has the added benefit of breaking down laundry detergent more effectively.
  • Bleach Alternative 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide.
  • Using hydrogen peroxide 3% in your laundry instead of bleach will whiten clothes.
  • Keep a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide near your washing machine as an alternative stain remover.
  • Spot Remover Remove spots as soon as they happen.
  • Blood stain – gently sponge with cold water, dry with towel.
  • Repeat until stain is gone.
    Red wine – on rugs, dab out moisture with absorbent cloth.
  • Cover stain with salt. Let sit for several hours.
  • Vacuum when dry.
    Ink stains – soak in cold water, then wash as usual.
  • If stain is on white fabric, wet fabric with cold water and apply a paste of cream of tartar and lemon juice, let sit for 1 hour.
  • Wash as usual.
    Perspiration stains – sponge stain with weak solution of white vinegar and water or lemon juice and water.
  • Rust stains disappear like magic when a mix of lemon juice and salt is applied and the garment spread in the sun.
  • After the fruit is juiced to make refreshing drinks, the used halves will soften and whiten workworn elbows.
  • Lemon juice can be used to dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits.
  • Lemon is a great substance to clean and shine brass and copper.
  • Lemon juice can be mixed with vinegar and or baking soda to make cleaning pastes.
  • Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle baking soda on the cut section.
  • Use the lemon to scrub dishes, surfaces, and stains.

Banana Shoe Polish
Polish leather with the inside of a banana peel, then buff.

Banana Houseplant Cleaner 

Wipe your houseplant leaves down with the inside of a banana peel to remove dirt and leave a shine.

Mosquito and Insect Repellents 

  • Prevent mosquitos breeding by keeping sources of still or stale water away from the house.
  • Herbs that repel them are citronella, pennyroyal, pyrethrum, basil, mint, chamomile and tansy.
  • Try burning citronella oil or basil oil near open windows to prevent flies from entering.
  • Oil of citronella can be burned in candles outdoors.
  • It has a scent pleasing to people but not to mosquitos!
  • Plant sweet basil around the patio and house to repel mosquitoes.
  • Most of us today grow chives and it’s a great insect repellent; so is garlic.
  • A spray made with chestnut and clove scents deters spiders.
  • Mice dislike garlic and elderberry liquid. 
  • Moths dislike the smell of lavender, natural camphor, cloves, mint, sage, wormwood and rosemary. Rid clothes of moth eggs by hanging them in the sun. 

Bunches of lavender hung in a corner will drive flies and mosquitos out and little lavender bags in linen will not only leave it sweet smelling, but will keep moths at bay too. A bay leaf placed in your dry food containers will discourage weevils and food moths from laying their eggs.

  • The ever useful dry borax sprinkled around a room will free it of ants and cockroaches.
  • Find the trail that leads between your house and the ant nest and obliterate it with mint, baking soda or aromatic oils.
  • Paprika is a good deterrent.
  • Ants also dislike pennyroyal, lavender and garlic.
  • The idea is to keep destroying their signposts that lead to the house.
  • We create more rubbish than ever before in history, in textiles, paper, glass, plastic, metal and kitchen waste every year.
  • Each of us doing one small change can only help us tread lightly on precious Earth.
  • Check out local recycling programmes, return kitchen waste back to the soil by compost, personal products be aware, spare the chemical soaps and not only help save the water supply but our bodies, too and the nasty soap scum that accumulates on glass in showers -always wipe your shower with a squeegie after each use.

It is important to remember that even though you are using simple ingredients, homemade cleaners are not “nontoxic.” Anything can be toxic when consumed in a large enough quantity. And a cleaner that is safe enough to eat (like lemon juice) can be still irritating to the eyes or skin. Always store mixed cleaners away from children, and label your concoctions in case of accidental ingestion.

Happy Spring Cleaning.

Big love, xo,

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