Spring Cleaning with Homemade Products

Spring Cleaning Products.jpg

Try these DIY cleaning products to get your home sparkling clean this spring.


As spring approaches, our thoughts are turned to…spring cleaning!  We’ve been cooped up in our houses all winter and we’re ready to see the shine of clean walls, windows, and floors!  But with the plethora of products available, it is difficult to decide on which ones to choose and which ones we can afford!  So the answer is…homemade cleaning solutions. Now is a great time to revive an article written by Carolyn Washburn, a USU professor from Washington County.  Thanks to her list of homemade cleaning products, we can have products that are less expensive, less toxic, and are safe and effective.

Some of the basic supplies needed include baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, borax, cornstarch and salt.  Here are a few of her recipes:

Four recipes for general cleaning:

  • 1 tablespoon ammonia, 1 tablespoon liquid detergent, 2 cups water.
  • 1 cup vinegar, 1 gallon water.
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1 teaspoon borax, hot water.
  • ½ cup ammonia, ¼ cup vinegar, ¼ cup baking soda, 1 gallon water

Five recipes for cleaning windows:

  • ½ cup vinegar and 1 gallon water (2 tablespoons to 1 quart).
  • ½ cup ammonia and 1 gallon water.
  • 1 tablespoon ammonia, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 quart water.
  • 3 tablespoons denatured alcohol, 1 quart water.
  • 3 tablespoons dish detergent and 1 tablespoon “Jet Dry” in ½ pail of water for outdoor windows.

Other cleaning solutions she suggests include:

Baking Soda

Baking soda neutralizes acid-based odors in water and absorbs odors from the air. Sprinkled on a damp sponge or cloth, baking soda can be used as a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser for kitchen countertops, sinks, bathtubs, ovens and fiberglass. For laundry, add up to a cup per load to eliminate perspiration odors and neutralize the smell of chemicals. It is also a useful air freshener and carpet deodorizer.

Vinegar and Lemon Juice

White vinegar and lemon juice are acidic and neutralize alkaline substances such as scale from hard water. They are natural cleaning products as well as disinfectants and deodorizers. Acids dissolve gummy buildup, eat away tarnish and remove dirt from wood surfaces. Vinegar can be used as a softener in laundry cleaning. Lemon juice can be mixed with vinegar and baking soda to make a cleaning paste.

Borax

Borax is a natural cleaner and bleach. It can boost other cleaning products, but be cautious when using it since it can cause skin, eye and respiratory irritation. Don’t use borax around food, keep it out of the reach of children and pets and be sure to rinse it out of clothes and off surfaces.

Cornstarch

Cornstarch can be used to clean windows, polish furniture and clean carpets. As a window cleaner, use it with water, vinegar and ammonia. To use on stains and to polish, use a mixture of water and cornstarch. Sprinkle on carpets to remove stains and odors.

Salt

Salt as a cleaner is one way to be a little “greener” at home. It is inexpensive, does not harm the environment and is readily available. Salt mixtures can remove yellowing, clean tarnish, remove lipstick, get rid of mold and can work as a drain cleaner.

Soap vs. Detergent

Liquid dish soaps and detergents are necessary for cutting grease, but they are not the same thing. Soap is made from fats and lye. Detergents are synthetic materials. Unlike soap, detergents are designed specifically so they don’t react with hard water minerals and cause soap scum. If you have hard water, buy a biodegradable detergent without perfumes. If you have soft water, you can use liquid soap.

Ammonia and Denatured Alcohol

Additional cleaning products are ammonia and denatured alcohol. Be careful not to mix ammonia with a bleach product, as it can produce a harmful gas. These toxic products need to be stored carefully and used in well-ventilated areas. Be sure to keep all homemade formulas labeled and out of the reach of children.

Happy Cleaning!

 


GaeLynn.jpgThis article was written by GaeLynn Peterson. Gaelynn is a long-time resident of Wayne County where she serves the residents as Utah State University faculty with an emphasis in FCS and 4-H. She has an M.S. in Psychology and has worked with at-risk students before joining the USU family. As a mother of seven and grandmother of 28, she has had a lot of experience working with youth, and she loves it! She enjoys traveling, camping, Lake Powell, and any beach.

 

Learn more about homemade cleaning products: https://extension.usu.edu/admin/files/uploads/mpp-2009-04-01-s-004.pdf

 




Less is More: 3 Tips to Spring Clean Your Life

 

Spring Clean Your LifeDo you find yourself surrounded with clutter? Try these three tips to spring clean your life and clear away some of the clutter.


Ahhh…Spring!  A time of re-birth, baby animals, green grass, flowers and budding trees; basically a season for renewal all around. Historically, spring was the time homemakers cleaned the winter coal soot off the wall coverings and fixtures of their homes. A deep clean on the inside of the home, no doubt, reflected the freshness of the season outside. Here’s my deep thought for you today: What kind of “coal soot” is covering your “insides?” Don’t worry—this isn’t about colon cleanses or detoxifying your diet. It’s bigger than that. I’m talking about clutter.

Clutter is all around us; our lives are cluttered with words, images, data, sounds and STUFF. Big stuff, little stuff, stuff we don’t even remember we have because it is buried under other stuff or stuffed into boxes of stuff. Clutter is our generation’s “coal soot.”  We bring it into our lives to fill a need, be it emotional or physical. But for some reason we let it stay long after the need has been filled. My challenge to you is to clear the clutter and spring clean your life.  Here’s how:

  1. Create a baseline.  Just like in budgeting or weight loss or any habit change, it’s difficult to make changes unless you have a good idea of what’s happening to begin with.  For example, assess your clutter. Is it mostly clothes, toys, papers, tools or books?  Start by bringing all of the same type of item together in one place.  Start small, say, with shirts.  Get all your shirts in one pile.
  1. Assess the value.  Now that you have all your shirts (or whatever item you’ve chosen to start with) go through the pile one by one.  Evaluate whether each item brings you joy.
  1. Keep, trash, donate, or sell.  Your number one goal is to only keep the items that are bringing you the most joy and the rest you can send on its way.  And it’s okay! There will be lots of items that have good use left in them. But if you’re not using them, do what you can to get the items into the hands of someone who will.

Less truly is more.  The tiny house movement really might be onto something!  When we own less, we have less to clean and less to trip over in the dark – just think of the health benefits!  Not to mention the potential to lift moods and bring harmony into a home; can you imagine a weekend without nagging your kids to clean their bedrooms? Fewer items to put away paired with habits of giving every item a “home” creates an opportunity for neatness.

Now, I’ll share a few cautions:

  1. Beware of the temptation of storage bins.  While the storage industry has made leaps and bounds in developing items that are fashionable and attractive, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need them.  After you’ve decreased the number of belongings, you might just realize you don’t need so many bins and pockets and cubbies to hide things in so your home has the appearance of tidiness. Tidiness is a natural result of owning less.
  2. Evaluate your buying habits and motivations.  As you are letting go of things you no longer need, think about why you purchased/acquired the items to begin with. If there are habits you need to change, apply those habits to future purchases and learn from the experience.
  1. Be kind to yourself. You’ll no doubt have some misgivings about the items you’re letting go of. The money spent on those items is gone, and guilt over making a purchase you didn’t necessarily use responsibly or no longer need isn’t worth it.

The feeling of a lifted burden is invigorating and refreshing. Kind of like spring… and cleaning the coal soot out.


This article was written by Rebecca Mills, Extension assistant professor in family consumer sciences and 4-H youth development

Source:

Kondo, M. (2014). The life-changing magic of tidying up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing. New York: Ten Speed Press.




After the Flood // Salvaging Carpets and Clothes

floodingHave you been hit with flooding in your home? Try these eight tips to care for your clothes and carpets after the floodwaters have subsided.


With heavy snowfall and recent warm temperatures, many Utahns have experienced flooding in their homes. Flood or drain backup water may contain sewage and unknown chemicals that can contaminate carpet and present a health hazard. Water from irrigation leakage or sump pump failure may be less risky, but equally damaging. In addition to carpet damage is clothing and fabric damage and the race against mildew. Consider these tips for cleaning up after a flood.

  1.  For carpet, the first step is to immediately get it off the floor to start drying it and to preserve the wood under the carpet. You may also have to remove the foam carpet padding. If possible, take it out to a driveway or patio to dry. If the carpet is too heavy to move, lift it off the floor and prop it up to allow air to circulate around it. If possible, don’t let the carpet completely dry this way if you want to save it, as it will likely be stretched out of shape when it dries. If you are working with contaminated water damage, be sure to wear rubber gloves before handling the carpet.
  2. Next, clean the floor to minimize odor and mildew. Scrub the floors with hot water and detergent, then rinse them with a bleach solution of one-half cup of bleach per gallon of water.
  3. Determine if the carpet can be saved. You may need to consult professional carpet cleaners to decide if it is worth saving. Your decision will depend on the source of the water damage. If it is flood water or a sewer backup, your main concern will be sanitation. If the damage is from rain or culinary water, your main concern is preventing mildew. In this case, most rented carpet cleaners should do an adequate job cleaning it.
  4. Recovering flood-damaged clothing is a time-sensitive battle in preventing mildew. Most of the dirt can be washed out, but mildew can permanently damage clothes quickly. Be sure to wear rubber gloves when handling wet clothing and fabric.
  5.  Since you likely have more clothes than you can clean all at once or want to have dry cleaned, let everything air dry as quickly as possible. Don’t leave clothes in a heap, as this promotes mildew growth. Once dry, shake them out or brush off loose dirt and dried mud. Next separate clothes the way you would for normal washing. Store dry, separated clothes in plastic bags if it is going to take a long period of time to get everything washed.
  6.  Pre-soak clothes in cold water or use the pre-rinse cycle on your washer to remove any additional dirt. Use hot water and detergent to kill germs, and remember to load the washer more loosely than usual since the clothes are extra dirty.
  7. Wool and delicate items may not tolerate hot water. If you don’t want to pay to have them dry cleaned, hand wash them in a basin of warm water using 1-2 tablespoons of heavy duty liquid detergent. Allow to soak for at least 3 minutes and rinse thoroughly.
  8. Most blankets, throw rugs, bedspreads, quilts and down-filled items can receive the same treatment as clothing, just be sure to carefully support them when they are wet to avoid ripping from the weight of the water.

Cleaning water-damaged areas is often difficult and discouraging work. However, with time and patience, most clothing items with light-to-medium water damage can be salvaged. There’s also a good chance that carpet with minimal damage can be saved. For large jobs or major sewer backups, it may be best to contact a disaster cleanup company.


This article was written by Kathleen Riggs, Utah State University Extension professor, family and consumer sciences,kathleen.riggs@usu.edu, 435-590-7727




Dutch Oven 101

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Cooking in a Dutch oven can be fun, but you can’t just load your dirty Dutch oven into the dishwasher when the cooking is done. Follow these directions to properly clean and store your Dutch oven.


Dutch Oven 101: Cleaning

Clean  out food residue using cooking oil and paper towels. Add warm soapy water, and wash using a dish cloth or sponge with an abrasive back. Rinse and dry  Dutch oven thoroughly, and wipe off all surfaces with a paper towel to remove any remaining dirt, ash or water (including the bottom and the lid). Coat all surfaces of the oven with cooking oil, starting with the inside. Wipe off any excess oil, replace lid on Dutch oven, and store for the next use. If oil inside oven becomes rancid, wash it with warm soapy water and repeat directions above before using.

Dutch Oven Hummingbird Cake

This Southern cake is traditionally topped with cream cheese frosting and chopped pecans. Try this dutch oven version alongside vanilla or butter pecan ice cream.

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 8-oz. can crushed pineapple
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup banana, mashed

Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl. Add eggs and oil, and mix until just moistened. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spread batter evenly in 12″ dutch oven that has been greased and coated with flour. Bake at 350 degrees fro 50-60 minutes (8-10 coals on bottom, 14-20 on top).

Farm to Table Dinner

Is your mouth watering for Dutch oven flavors? Come to the Farm to Table Dinner at the USU Botanical Center on September 15. Renowned Dutch oven chef Blaine Scott will prepare a delicious dinner of roast beef, cheesy potatoes and Mexican-style street corn. A seasonal fruit cobbler will be served to complete the meal. Save your place at the table and buy tickets here.

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Read more on Dutch oven cooking and find recipes here.




Tips for Tackling Summer Cleaning

Tips for Tackling Summer Cleaning

Summer is a great family time and also a great time to teach kids cleaning skills. These tips will help jobs move along smoothly. After cleaning, plan a fun activity as a reward for participation. Your family will love it!


  • Always clean top to bottom. When you dust, start at the top and work your way down.
  • Take all your cleaning tools with you into each room to avoid unnecessary trips back and forth.
  • Turn off the phones and TV.
  • Eliminate clutter. An uncluttered home looks better than one that is dust-free, but strewn with odds and ends.
  • Clean as you go! It takes a lot less time to remove new dirt than old and to put things away as you use them than it does to clean and store the piles that accumulate.
  • A house that smells fresh will give the impression of cleanliness. Leave baking soda on carpeting for the night to absorb musty odors and vacuum in the morning.
  • Keep a doormat or big astro-turf mat on the porch to cut down on tracked in dirt.
  • Keep a basket in the kitchen for mail, newspapers, car keys, etc. to help reduce clutter.
  • Keep a laundry hamper in every bathroom.
  • Put family members in charge of making their own beds and picking up after themselves.
  • Always pick up the TV room before bedtime, and start the dishwasher.
  • Prioritize and decide what is most important.
  • Delegate by getting the entire family involved.
  • Make a checklist, and when a job is completed, check it off so you can see how much you’ve accomplished.

This article was written by Carolyn Washburn, Utah State University Extension associate professor,carolyn.washburn@usu.edu.




5 Steps to Easier Spring Cleaning

5 Steps to Spring Cleaning

The first sign of Spring brings crisp fresh air, newly budding flowers, singing birds and a sense of renewal. Getting organized and doing a bit of spring cleaning helps bring that wonderful fresh feeling into your home!


5 Simple Steps to Easier Spring Cleaning

There’s more to spring cleaning than just attacking yearly tasks. It includes organizing as well as cleaning your home. We have to admit our normal routine can be lax and infrequent sometimes. Spring cleaning will ensure you make up for those hurried days of sliding a dust rag carelessly across the book case.

These five steps will make your house look like new!

1. Make a detailed list of what needs to be done in each room. Be sure jobs that you only do once or twice a year are also listed. Take your drapes to the dry cleaners or give your blinds a dip in the bathtub. If all these odd jobs are on a list, you won’t forget to do them.

2. Gather together all the cleaning supplies needed for the tasks. Nothing is worse than getting ready to do your task and then finding out that you are missing the one item needed to complete your task. A large bucket or caddy is great for holding these items and carrying them from room to room.

3. Decide if you’ll have help. If so, assign tasks or rooms. If you’ll be tackling the cleaning alone, you might want to do it in short periods over several days to avoid burnout.

4. Make your cleaning fun. Think of it as exercise. Turn on some lively music and move to the beat. Open the drapes and let the sunshine and fresh air in.

5. Concentrate your efforts. Do one room at a time. First, get rid of the clutter. Make a box for trash and a box for charitable donations. Get rid of items you no longer need or use. Take time to organize as you complete each task. Next, start at the top and clean chandeliers or light fixtures. Work your way down to tables, chairs, window sills and finally the floor.

When all the tasks are finished, stand back and enjoy the springtime freshness!


This article was written by Ellen Serfustini.
Ellen Serfustini

Ellen Serfustini is an Extension Associate Professor for Utah State University. Her major is in Home Economics Education with a Masters in Human Environments. Her specialties include nutrition, food safety, and finance as well as youth-at-risk programs.





Spring Into Action – Tidy Up!

Author – Ellen Serfustini

tidy-up

“Spring is beautiful and smells sweet. Spring is when you shake the curtains and pound the rugs, and take off your long underwear, and wash in all the corners.” As noted in this quote by Virginia Cary Hudson, when winter has said it’s last goodbye, it’s time to open the windows, shoo away the doldrums and tackle the annual spring cleaning! Along with Spring comes thoughts of crisp fresh air, newly budding flowers, singing birds and a sense of renewal. Getting organized and doing a bit of spring cleaning, helps to bring that wonderful fresh feeling into your home.

History tells us that spring cleaning was born thanks to old wood burning stoves or oil furnaces. The arrival of spring meant warmer temperatures and home heating was no longer required. However, the need to clean the ash and soot left behind on all household surfaces, including draperies and exposed surfaces was clearly evident. Today, modern heating systems eliminate such mess.

Spring cleaning is more than just attacking areas of your home not normally cleaned. It’s combining thorough cleaning and organization of your entire home. If we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit our normal routine can be lax and infrequent. Spring cleaning will ensure you make up for those hurried days of sliding a dust rag carelessly across the book case.

To get started –

1: Make a detailed list of what needs to be done in each room. Be sure jobs that you only do once or twice a year are also listed. Perhaps you might take your large comforters to the laundromat, or your drapes and winter coats to the dry cleaners, store you winter clothes and bring your warm weather clothes out of hiding or check the smoke detectors. If all these odd jobs are on a list, you won’t forget to do them.

2: Gather together all the cleaning supplies needed for the tasks. Nothing is worse than getting ready to do your task and then finding out that you are missing the one component needed to complete your task. A large bucket or caddy is ideal for holding cleansers, rags, sponges, and other essentials. They can be toted easily from one room to the next.

3: Decide if you’ll have help. If so, assign tasks or rooms. Be sure to leave potentially dangerous tasks to the adults. Don’t assign cleaning ceiling fan blades or disposing of chemicals or pesticides to a young child. If you’ll be tackling the cleaning alone, you might want to do it in short periods over several days to avoid burnout.

4: Make your cleaning fun. Be positive. Think of it as a ‘feel good’ exercise—one that will really help you to feel good about yourself and your clean, organized environment. Turn on some lively, fun music and move to the beat. Open the drapes and let the sunshine and fresh air in.

5: Concentrate your efforts. Do one room at a time.
• Before getting down to the nitty-gritty, first remove the messy clutter.
• Make a box for trash and a box for charitable donations. Get rid of items you no longer need or use.
• Take time to organize as you complete each task.
• Don’t take smaller stacks of items and create larger ones. That’s not cleaning, that’s reorganizing existing clutter.
• Empty wastebaskets and clean furniture tops, then proceed to dust, wash or shampoo.
• A good rule is to start at the top. Clean chandeliers, light fixtures and pictures first, then work your way down to tables, chairs, window sills and finally the floor. Rather that shuffling furniture from one room to another in an effort to shampoo the carpet, save time and back-breaking effort by covering each furniture leg with a small plastic bag. Then simply move the furniture aside to clean the area and then return to its original spot.
• As you clean each room, make a list of items to be repaired. If you need to replace a light bulb or caulk the bathroom shower, make a note. It’s not necessary to repair it right away, but you’ll want to be sure you complete the repair in a timely manner.

When all the tasks are finished, stand back and admire a job well done.

Ellen-Serfustini

Ellen Serfustini is a Family and Consumer Sciences agent in Carbon County. She has worked for USU Extension for 17 years. Her specialties include food safety, nutrition, and finance.