By Erin McIntosh | Published March 2016

Snow is melting away, green leaves are peeking out on limbs, and early blossoms are coloring the city pink and yellow. The long-awaited warmth of spring is a little more noticeable as the days pass, and I’m excited about the promise of a new garden space. While it’s still a bit early for dreams of tomatoes ripening on the vine, a deep spring cleaning is surely calling my name.

We all know that commercial cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that can irritate the skin, burn the eyes, sting the lungs, and poison the land and water we cherish—not to mention the budget-busting expense of buying them and all the waste produced by those empty plastic bottles and extra packaging. I’ve been using my own cleaning formulas for years now and love how easy and inexpensive they are to create.

These quick and easy recipes will help you prepare your home for the warm months ahead, using only natural ingredients. Great to have on hand year-round, these homemade cleaners can replace conventional cleaning products in your cupboard with just a few basic ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and essential oils.

Super Surface Spray

Ingredients

16 ounce spray bottle

8 ounces distilled white vinegar

6 ounces water

2 ounces vodka or rubbing alcohol

10 drops organic lavender essential oil

5 drops organic rosemary essential oil

5 drops organic lemon essential oil

Directions

Combine all ingredients in the spray bottle and shake well before each use. Use this aromatic disinfecting solution for cleaning kitchen counters, cabinets, refrigerator shelves, glass, blinds, painted wood surfaces, painted walls, tile, sinks, tubs, and fan blades.

Herby Soft Scrub

Ingredients

glass pint jar

1/2 cup baking soda

1/2 cup organic Castile soap

15 drops organic rosemary or tea tree essential oil

Directions

Mix well until you have a nice pasty consistency. You can add 1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin or aloe vera gel to keep the blend moist. Use to scrub tubs, sinks, and tile surfaces. Rinse away with water or a vinegar solution.

 Fab-Breeze Spray

Ingredients

16 ounce spray bottle

3 ounces unflavored vodka

15 drops organic lavender, ylang ylang, sweet orange, or your favorite smelling essential oil

12 ounces organic hydrosol (flower water) of your choice

Directions

Mix all ingredients in the spray bottle and shake well before each use. Spray to refresh your mattress, pillows, bed linens, couches, and fabric-covered chairs, or deodorize winter blankets before storing for the year. This also makes a wonderful ironing spray and general room deodorizer!

Lemon Polish

Ingredients

16 ounce spray bottle

1 cup organic olive oil

25 drops organic lemon essential oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup distilled white vinegar

Directions

This solution will leave your wood surfaces clean and well conditioned. Mix together in a spray bottle and shake well before each use. Spray onto a soft rag or directly onto wood furniture and be sure to buff the surface dry immediately.

 Tropical Carpet Powder

Ingredients

1 cup baking soda

10 drops organic lemongrass essential oil

10 drops organic Mandarin essential oil

10 drops organic ginger essential oil

1/4 cup lavender flowers

Directions

Mix together and immediately sprinkle the aromatic blend onto your carpet. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes, then vacuum as normal. Makes a wonderful mattress deodorizer, too!

 Mop-It-Up Concentrate

Ingredients

small glass bottle

1 cup distilled white vinegar

1/4 cup organic Castile soap

20 drops organic lavender essential oil

20 drops organic sweet orange essential oil

Directions

This is the perfect liquid cleaner for tile, vinyl, or linoleum floors. Mix the solution with 2 gallons of hot water and mop away the dirt and grime. For wood floors, leave out the Castile soap and wipe spots clean by hand, or mop and quickly buff dry.

Clean & Green

The best essential oils for cleaning:

Basil, bergamot, cardamom, cinnamon, clary sage, clove, eucalyptus, fir, ginger, juniper, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, myrrh, nutmeg, orange, oregano, peppermint, pine, rose geranium, rosemary, sage, spearmint, spruce, tea tree, thyme, and ylang ylang.