Texas Living

Spring Cleaning

By Lisa Martin 3.22.13

Granny was right. You don’t need a cupboard filled with expensive cleaning products to make your house sparkle, shine, and smell great.

Trending on Pinterest this year are pictures of Mason jars and bottles with pretty labels printed from home, and filled with homemade cleaning products, from dishwasher detergent to countertop spray.

Created from common pantry staples like baking soda and white vinegar, recipes are being passed along from neighbors near and far, and even from grandparents as a new generation searches for practical, environmentally friendly cleaning solutions.

Cleaning with vinegar

Simple white vinegar can work miracles on grease, stains and odors. For mere pennies per ounce, this multitasking marvel could become the backbone of your new cleaning regime.

Household maven Heloise offers these recipes:

  • For windows: Mix 1/4 cup vinegar in a gallon of warm water.
  • For drains: Pour 1/4 cup baking soda into drain followed by 1/2 cup vinegar. Close drain until it stops fizzing, then flush with boiling water.
  • For floors: Mix 1/2 cup vinegar with 1 gallon hot water. Add 1 tablespoon liquid soap.

One caveat: “Do not use any vinegar-based solutions on marble,” says Kate Ryan, a
Brooklyn-based playwright who writes a popular blog called “Memoirs of a Cheapskate.” For her marble countertops, she mixes 2 cups water and 1 Tablespoon hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle.

Cleaning with cornstarch

While its cooking cousin, baking soda, gets a lot more attention, cornstarch can work wonders, too. Here are a few uses the folks at Hodgson Mill recommend:

  • Remove mildew in books by lightly sprinkling with cornstarch. Let sit for a few hours and then wipe or shake clean.
  • Clean carpets with a mix of 1 part baking soda to 2 parts cornstarch. Sprinkle onto carpets or rug, then wait 5 minutes and vacuum.
  • Make your own laundry starch by filling a spray bottle with 2 pints cold water and mix in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Shake before each use.
  • To polish silver, make a paste of cornstarch and water. Apply with a damp cloth, let dry, and then remove with cheesecloth.

Other homemade cleaners

“Club soda is the best emergency spot-remover there is,” writes Linda Cobb in Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean (Pocket Books). Here are a few additional concoctions to consider:

  • Garbage disposal freshener: Grind a lemon and ice cubes in the disposal.
  • Furniture polish: Dab on mayonnaise with a soft cloth, and then wipe off.
  • Microwave cleaner: Cook two halves of a lemon on high for 2 minutes, and then wipe down the interior.