Spring is here, and it is probably time to turn my thoughts, reluctantly, to spring cleaning. One thing I have done several times is to go out and by loads of fancy cleaning sprays and cloths and creams and gels. What usually happens is I use them once, and someone’s allergies are aggravated by the fragrance, or the smell is just appalling, and we have to open all of the windows to air out the clean room.

That is, of course, if those fancy pants cleaners work at all because often they just end up moving the dirt around or better yet, cleaning the dirt and leaving an indelible smeary pattern that you then have to spend four hours getting rid of. The things you can accomplish with them just might come as a surprise.

This year, in the interests of saving cash, protecting health and taking a small positive step for the environment, I have decided to forgo buying anything and clean with items that are already in the house. A quick search of the net found so many suggestions I could devote an entire website to them and still never scratch the surface, but then I would have to clean all of the time and write about just that and, let’s face it, that is not going to happen.

As a compromise, I tried out a few of the tricks I discovered, and these are the ones that worked for me. Now a have a briefly clean house, a non-sneezing family and a couple of extra bucks to spend on pizza to save in an adult and responsible way.

The Humble Dishwasher

You can use the dishwasher to clean so much more than just the dirty dishes your teenager leaves strewn around the house. Try running all of your kids’ hard plastic toys through the wash cycle, although you should learn from my mistakes and stay away from toys with stickers on them or toys with electronic parts. You also need to be careful to turn off the heated dry cycle and not to put anything delicate in the lower dishwasher rack.

When you take the toys out of the dishwasher, they’ll look good as new not to mention germ-free. 

Be on the lookout for other things around the house that you can successfully clean in the dishwasher. This includes items like knick-knacks, pet bowls, metal fixtures, hairbrushes and small plastic wastebaskets.

Lemons – Go On, Give Them A Squeeze

Cut a fresh lemon in half and rub it on your stainless steel faucet. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to get rid of rust and hard water stains. Who would’ve thought, right? You can also place half a lemon in the fridge to fight odors and keep it smelling clean.

Putting lemon peels in a pot of simmering water makes your whole house smell fresh.

Do you have a garbage disposal? If so, chop up some lemons and throw them down there, along with a couple of ice cubes. Turn on the disposal, and it will get a good clean while leaving the unit smelling fresh. This also works with oranges and other citrus fruits.

If you’re looking for a quick way to clean your microwave, mix lemon juice and water and a bowl and put it in the microwave for 5 minutes. Once it’s done, take out the bowl and wipe down the inside of the microwave. So easy a grown child could do it. Not that they will, of course, they’ll just keep reheating food and baking on the splashes until there’s no room to squeeze in their two-day-old Chinese take out.

Coffee Filters Do Other Things

Looking for something you can use to clean the dust off of all the screens that are appearing around your home? Try using a coffee filter, a clean one straight from the box that is. They’re soft enough not to damage the screen but tough enough to get the job done. If you don’t have any coffee filters laying around, you can also do the same thing with newspaper, as long as it is not a cheap free paper. Then the ink comes off all over your hands, and you leave a delightful trail of inky fingerprints around the house, which kind of defeats the object.

Baking Soda Not Just For My Terrible Baking

Baking soda is very versatile when it comes to cleaning, and you can use it to take care of messes anywhere in the house. Cover oil stains on the carpet with a layer of baking soda to lift them out. To clean the gaps in bathroom tile, scrub them with a mixture of water and baking soda.

Cover the oil stains on the carpet courtesy of your teenage son, with a layer of baking soda to lift them out.Let the baking soda sit on the stain for approximately a half hour and vacuum up. To clean the gaps in bathroom tile, scrub them with a mixture of water and baking soda.

To clean the gaps in between the bathroom tiles, wash them with a mix of warm water and baking soda.

You can also use water and baking soda to clean the surfaces in your kitchen like your counter tops, stove, or the shelves in your fridge. You can even sprinkle a layer of baking soda across your mattress and vacuum it off after one to eight hours. This removes odors and leaves your bed smelling fresh enough to spend the next week in, hiding under the covers, waiting for the world to go away.

White Vinegar

Like baking soda, vinegar is great for a number of cleaning-related applications. Just be sure to use white vinegar and not the malted kind otherwise your house will smell less like a lovely clean home and more like a fish and chip shop.

Vinegar is used as a base in many homemade cleaning sprays, along with lemons, lavender, and baking soda. These surface cleaning sprays can be used to disinfect and leave a pleasant scent just about anywhere in the house. You can even use them to randomly spray into the air just before guests arrive and it makes the house smell like you have been cleaning.