Saturday, January 1, 2011

Lemony Clean

A few months ago, a friend and I were talking about how many people waste money on tons of cleaning solutions. Advertising is a very powerful thing. Walking down the cleaning chemical aisle, you suddenly believe that you need a chemical to clean the bathtub, one to clean the bathroom sink and then a different one for the kitchen sink, one to clean the mirrors, one to clean the floors (of course all different if you have more than one type of floor- tile, laminate, etc,) the toilet gets its own cleaner, there's one for mold, one for bacteria, one for "extreme fungus" (I'm not kidding, I found it in the closet when we moved into this house!) All of these cleaning chemicals take up so much space, and they cost a lot of money! It just seems like somewhat of a waste.

Not to mention the safety concerns over having these chemicals in my house with a toddler who is into everything, a baby who can suddenly move and get into everything, and a doggy who is always asking for trouble.

So I'd like to take some time every once in a while to feature natural cleaning components that most people already have right in their kitchen and don't even realize it. The first one that I'm going to look at, happens to be my favorite. Lemon. Lemon tends to be my all purpose cleaner. I like to buy the large bottles of lemon juice in bulk because it is much cheaper, and ensures that I don't run out of my favorite cleaning agent. I'd like to highlight a few of the uses I've found for it!

Cleaning counters, table, and stovetop: I put straight lemon juice into a spray bottle and sprinkle surfaces very lightly with baking soda (a small amount will do, you don't need to cover the whole surface. If you use too much, it will be difficult to wipe away and then your surfaces will feel gritty) Spray the juice onto the counters generously, and use a damp rag to wipe into the surface. Use water and a rag to wipe the solution away. I love giving my surfaces a quick scrub this way before we have company, even if they aren't particularly dirty. It gives the house that nice "clean" lemon scent. Smells much better than lemon-scented cleaners!

Microwave: Microwaves can get really gross. And who wants to use potentially harmful chemicals in a place that we cook our foods? I love this method of cleaning the microwave. It works even better than commercial cleaners, and has absolutely no harmful chemicals. Slice a lemon in half along the equator and place directly in the microwave, cut side up, and cook for about 10-15 seconds (might be more or less depending on your microwave) This actually loosens the stuck-on food particles in the microwave! When it's done, use the lemon half to scrub the walls of the microwave. Then, use a wet rag to wipe the microwave out. Don't forget to use a bit of the lemon to disinfect the handle on the door, and the buttons!

Garbage Disposal: Cut a lemon into wedges, then cut the wedges into thirds once a weak, drop a couple of the lemon chunks down the empty disposal and run it, to disinfect and keep it smelling fresh. Store the chunks in a covered container in the fridge until you use them. I use a washed yogurt container to store them.

Laundry Freshener and Stain Removal (especially of the diaper variety): Because we use a natural laundry detergent that does not contain any disinfecting agents or perfumes, I like to add about 1/4 cup of lemon juice to the final rinse on our laundry. It makes everything come out of the wash smelling wonderfully clean, and adds an antibacterial component to our wash. I add a little more to heavy loads such as towels and diapers. When there is a stain in an item, I treat the stain by pouring lemon juice directly onto it and then rub a little bit of detergent into it. The stain washes right out. With our diapers, I pour the juice directly onto the stain on the diaper and then place the diaper out in the sun for a few hours. Voila, you couldn't tell that diaper had ever been pooped on! When you do this though, you need to rewash the diapers to make sure the lemon juice is no longer on the diaper (and then your baby's skin!)

Crayon Removal: This is my new favorite. Jonah loves to color. He is like Harold and the Purple Crayon. If he finds a crayon, he will color on whatever surface he can find! To remove the crayon from tile floor, the fridge, our wooden cabinets, and a few painted surfaces, I mixed baking soda and lemon juice in a small bowl to make kind of a foamy paste. I used a damp rag to scrub the crayon with the paste, and it came off with very little effort. I would recommend testing this on an inconspicuous area of the painted surface, first, to make sure it doesn't strip your paint. I haven't had any problems with it, but I could see how the acidic lemon juice might remove paint along with the crayon.

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