Ahhhhhhhh…….the lovely smell of Spring. In our house the windows are open with fresh curtains fluttering in the breeze. We wake up each morning to the birds singing…and the cat hitting the screen as she tries to reach the little twittering things just outside her reach. Yep, great wake up call. 🙂

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   I love Spring for so many reasons. The first time of walking barefoot in the turned soil. The sight of the first daffodil, or smell of the first Lily of the Valley. The first thunderstorm, with crashing thunder and lightning strikes splitting the sky in jagged streaks. All the new baby animals—because come on, who doesnt think chicks are one of the most adorable things God ever created?

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   But I also love Spring because it holds so much promise of so many things. I wonder what changes will happen with the coming year, how large the garden will grow. I look forward to the times of sitting around the campfire with the family, or picking mulberries and cherries with my kids. There is so much potential.
And through it all, for me, the smell of orange and thyme, lavender and lemon lightly stains the background of each thought like a watermark. Because with Spring Cleaning comes breaking out the homemade cleaners, washing and spraying the curtains with a mist of essential oil, and ending up with a house freshly clean and ready for a season of being outdoors more often than not.
For years I have been using a chart that I wrote up myself on what to do in each room. We had moved so much it just was easier to keep it handy and pull it out twice a year—once in the Spring and once when we moved. But the other day this was posted on FB and I jumped up and down in delight! Printable form, and very easy to follow.

click here for the printable version of a great chart

      I mean, come on, isnt this awesome? Easy to read, lots of great ideas, and something you can just place in your binder along with your meal plans from Making Do Without Missing A Thing series. I have a couple binders that are used all the time…….I have the one with main recipes and meal plans in it, as well as ideas for food storage and how much we need for a certain period of time. I have another with the above chart and recipes for cleaning, as well as my collection of other ideas such as my medicinal herbs and all their uses.
And finally I have one for school ideas and papers that I use as my master copies of things we use every week: chore charts, lesson charts, etc. I may have a “messy” house, but in my heart, I am an organized person who functions much better when I have everything available and easy to walk through step by step.
So, cleaners are really easy to make on your own, and do a much better job than the horrible chemical based ones you purchase at the grocery store. I always used to get terrible headaches just from walking down those aisles, let alone using them in my home. I started with just using vinegar to clean my mirrors and windows, and was very impressed with the result. Then it just kind of went from there. My favorite all purpose cleaner right now is just a spray bottle filled with orange vinegar–or vinegar that has been steeping with orange peels for about a week. Take a wide mouth canning jar, or old clean PB jar, fill with orange peels from snack time, and stuff them in the jar. Next fill the jar to the rim with vinegar and put the lid on tightly. Shake a couple times a day for up to two weeks, strain through a coffee filter, bottle, and you have a natural cleaner. You can also use lemon or even lime or grapefruit–what is important is the citrus oils. The vinegar smell evaporates very quickly, while the orange smell hangs on. I do not use this on glass or mirrors as the orange oil leaves streaks, but it makes the house smell so fresh and clean! Vinegar has been known to kill 99% of bacteria on contact, which is in some cases MORE effective than those store bought chemicals!
I have been collecting recipes for a while, and chasing down their links. Here are a few of my favorites!

   This recipe is wonderful for replacing Comet or some of the other hard scrubby cleaners out there. You can vary the smell for the oil, and for an extra boost add cornmeal for more scrubbing power. It wont “Ka-Boom” your bathroom…..but it also wont Ka-Boom your nose and stop you from smelling for a week. Works great.
   An easy one time use toilet bowl cleaner recipe–no storing, and so no worries about little fingers getting into the place where they are stored.
   A homemade 409 recipe for all basic cleaning, that uses borax. I make my own laundry detergent, and so have all these ingredients on hand. I use Dawn for stain removal and for dishes, so have this on hand as well. The Frugal Girls also have a whole part of their site dedicated to cleaners and recipes….so if you are looking for some inspiration, then check it out by clicking the link below.
   I would also suggest that for the really yucky areas with lots of germs that using tea tree oil as your bacteria fighter is a great idea. I combine mine with lavender or lemongrass essential oils since it really is a strong smell. I tend to use tea tree oil and thyme tea interchangably except in the bathroom and kitchen. 🙂
   I hope this helps some of you get started on that Spring Cleaning…that is, if you can stay away from the gorgeous outdoors long enough to do it! 🙂
Many Blessings to you and yours,