I’m doing something a little different for my recipe this week. Shit is getting REAL over my oldest daughter’s upcoming birthday party so I’m being a bit boring on the cooking front at the moment (although not for long!) – but I am doing a bunch of cleaning and tidying around the house.
Now personally I am not a fan of most store-bought cleaners. I don’t like the expense, the smell, or the chemicals and would rather keep them out of my house wherever possible. There are a whole bunch of ideas out there for thrifty, eco-friendly cleaning solutions. I use a number of different approaches, but after much trial and error these are my two favourite sprays to make.
Discarded citrus peels
Place citrus peels in a glass jar and cover with white vinegar. Close tightly and store in a cupboard for at least two weeks to allow the oils to infuse. Strain infused vinegar into a spray bottle and use like a normal everyday solvent.
Personally I like to combine any and all citrus peels as I use them but you can just stick to one type if you prefer. This can be used as a mild solvent on most hard surfaces but you should water it down for carpets or furnishings (I like to douse with water first and then lightly spray with the vinegar) and definitely do a spot test on anything you’re unsure about. Since it’s acidic it can etch some surfaces so research online if in doubt – there is OODLES of info about cleaning with vinegar out there!
Cold black tea
About a teaspoon of your Citrus Vinegar
An extra drop or two of lemon oil if you have it
3-5 drops of lavender oil
Extra water to dilute if desired
Pour cold water over a tea bag in a cup and leave to infuse for at least ten minutes or so. Pour into a spray bottle and add the Citrus Vinegar and lavender oil. If the tea is particularly dark, dilute a little to reduce any marks it might leave on light surfaces (don’t worry – in my experience it doesn’t stain! Best to wipe it off ASAP though).
I love cracking out this spray before I dust and vacuum. I’ll spray it liberally into the air before and after cleaning a room. Not only does it smell gorgeous, but the tannin in the tea kills dust mites! I used to be quite sensitive to them but since I learned this trick (from Spotless by Shannon Lush, who has some more great cleaning tips here) the sneezing attacks have basically disappeared. And if I do become affected I go sniff the used tea bag that I leave on my kitchen counter until the cleaning is done and it all clears up again! Bliss.
Also, the lemon oil acts as a spider deterrent, the lavender oil as a mosquito deterrent and anti-bacterial agent, and the whole concoction works as a very mild solvent. I often spray it onto brooms and dusting cloths to help smear the oils over walls and other surfaces to keep rooms fresh-smelling and reduce incursions by creepy-crawlies.
Each batch can last for a couple of weeks but do a smell test first if it isn’t freshly made – sometimes it can stagnate and leave a bad after-smell. I always prefer to make it fresh if I have the time.