Make Your Spring Cleaning Smell and Look Beautiful With These Zero-Waste Recipes
- by Alden Wicker
- May 1, 2014
If you’re into non-toxic beauty, zero waste, DIYing, storing your foodstuffs in nicely labeled jars on a shelf, and essential oils, the siren call of The Organically Clean Home is a powerful one.
This volume of cleaning recipes and tips by Becky Rapinchuk of cleanmama.net promises to transform that shameful place under your kitchen sink into yet another shining example of gorgeous sustainability and life-skill prowess.
Imagine: what if you could rid yourself of those plastic spray bottles in garish lime green, purple, and red full of toxic chemicals, jugs of chemicals in an unnatural turquoise and all manner of other things that make you profoundly comfortable? And then, replace them with serene, clear spray bottles and jars of clear liquids, tinted every-so-slightly with the pale yellow of lemon juice, lightly scented with peppermint, or lavender? Imagine yourself slicing up a lemon in order to clean your bathroom or cutting board, and mixing up such edible ingredients as vodka, cream of tarter, vinegar and baking soda to whiten and disinfect? Why, if that were the case, you would display all your cleaning supplies on the shelf right next to your quinoa!
I wanted this beautiful, clean life for myself, a life with an apartment that smells slightly of dessert and wildflowers, where a chemical never crosses the threshold. So I eagerly got myself a review copy of The Organically Clean Home and took a tentative sip of the Kool-aid. Here’s what I found:
- Pro: It’s super inspiring. After reading through the whole thing, you will be so excited to get to work, you’ll be rolling up your sleeves dreaming of white grout and a shining kitchen. I emailed my boyfriend before I was even done, offering to make him some bathroom spray. “Maybe your asthma is from the spray you use!” I gushed.
- Con: It’s family-sized. This is definitely a pro for some people, but when Rapinchuk started talking about her weekly cleaning schedule, which includes doing a load of laundry a day, I was like, “Nuh-uh girl. How about a two (small) loads every two weeks?” And I found that I had to cut recipes down. When I mixed up the all purpose cleaner, it filled almost a whole bottle, but will only keep for 10 days in the fridge. I would have to clean every surface in my apartment to use it all! (The fact that this is something a mom would use within a week just strengthens my resolve not to have kids.)
- Pro: The recipes are simple. From 2 to 5-ingredient recipes, each one is easy to quickly mix up, and they use easy-to-find ingredients that you can pick up at your local grocery store.
- Con: It’s an investment. While over time I could see mixing up your own recipes saving you money, you have to lay out at first. Those essential oils that she recommends–lemon, lavender, peppermint, orange, rosemary, clove, and more–are each more than $10 at Whole Foods, and some get up to $20! I recommend you try just one recipe at a time to see if you like this whole DIY cleaning solution life. Or else you’ll have $150 worth of essential oils in your cleaning cabinet reminding you of what a failure you are.
- Pro: There’s a recipe for everything. And I mean everything. With 150 recipes, there are solutions for problems you didn’t know you had. Did you know you might want a different cleaner for your refrigerator and another for the freezer? How about a way to un-gunk your shower head? A cleaning solution for your vinyl shower curtain, a rust remover, mildew preventer, toilet boil disinfectant, cabinet cleaner, a stovetop cleaner, even a Keurig cleaner are all in there. It’s like a bible of freshness.
- Con: More non-toxic than pro-environment. For example, Ms. Rapinchuk recommends a microfiber cloth, which is made from nylon and polyester. Oh, and there’s a recipe to clean your Keurig. Um, what are you doing with a Keurig, young lady?
How Effective Are the Recipes?
I know this is what you’re really wondering.
I didn’t have the time or money to try every recipe in the book (see essential oil note above), but I tried a bunch. The Lemon and Peppermint All-Purpose Cleaner was pleasant and seemed to work as well as any other all-purpose cleaner. The Natural Drain Unclogger, while pretty much common knowledge at this point, worked great–my bathtub was filling up for every shower and now it runs perfectly–and the addition of a few drops of lemon was an inspired touch. The Disinfecting Wood Cutting Board Cleaner is so easy, you can quickly use it every time you’re done slicing up meat. The Lavender and Lemon Disinfecting Spray was lovely, and luckily keeps for up to two months underneath your bathroom cabinet. I tried the Lemon Grout Cleaner and then the Lemon Whitening Grout Cleaner with high hopes. Ss you can see above, it helped the sealant at the bottom of the just a bit, but it did a great job on the grout itself! Really, nothing has helped my poor bathtub–it might be a lost cause. (It’s a rental, who cares.) The Shower Head Cleaner was hit-on-the-head simple, but effective and satisfying. You can see that it cleaned the rusty bits off of my shower head easily.
And I’m excited to try the rest. I can’t wait to mix up the Lavender Mattress Refresher this weekend when I change my sheets!
Overall I would say that The Organically Clean Home is worth buying for yourself in order to detoxify your home, wean yourself off buying plastic bottle after plastic bottle of cleaners, and make your bucket of cleaning supplies look super duper pretty, thus impressing your friends and scaring the shit out of your enemies.