Housekeeping for the holidaze

OK, confession time. Deep down I’m an OCD neat freak. But it’s funny how life has a way of subjecting you to a little good-natured immersion therapy, forcing you to let go of unnecessary hangups. Like cleanliness.

For me, that immersion therapy comes in the form of a 100-year-old house. No matter what I do, this drafty old cottage is perpetually covered in clay dust, potting soil, and home improvement tools. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Until the holidays roll around, that is. And thus begins a frantic cleaning spree so our friends and family don’t see how we really live the rest of the year.

The good news is cleaning doesn’t require a bunch of expensive chemical products that take your breath away. Try some of these tips as you prepare for tomorrow’s holiday madness:

  • Spray tile and countertops down with a little white vinegar diluted with water. Wipe with a damp cloth, and try to resist the urge to eat fish & chips.
  • Stainless steel appliances, like my beloved tea kettle, turn a horrid rust color when exposed to heat. They look ruined, but don’t despair. Mix two tablespoons of cream of tartar with a little water until it forms a paste. Apply the paste with an old toothbrush and scrub gently. It may take a couple of applications, but you’ll be stunned at how good that discolored stainless steel looks again.
  • Forget toxic oven cleaners. Sprinkle a little baking soda on grease stains and scrub gently. Done.
  • Porcelain tubs and sinks need extra care to avoid scratching. Don’t make the same mistake I did by using baking soda to clean them as well. It’s far too abrasive. Instead, cover rusty spots with salt, then soak with lemon juice. Wait a while before cleaning. Nasty stains might need a few hits of the salty lemon concoction, but this recipe did the job on our salvaged clawfoot tub.
  • Toilets are no match for baking soda and white vinegar. Just shake and pour a little of each into the bowl, then attack with toilet brush. I usually throw in a couple of drops of orange essential oil to make the bathroom smell like citrus magic. And let’s be honest about the real reason I do this: housekeeping is way more fun with toilet volcanoes.
Cleaning without chemicals will save you tons of money while keeping all sorts of nasties out of the waste stream. If you have any tips for staying clean and green, share them in the comment section below, and we’ll do a post-holiday roundup. Merry Christmas Eve, gentle readers.

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