Using just a few key ingredients, this book can teach you how to scour everything from dirty ovens to leather boots to ceiling fans.
The Internet abounds with recipes for homemade cleaning products, but sometimes it's nice just to have everything in one place. A new book called The Modern Organic Home: Recipes and Tips for Cleaning and Detoxing Your Home is what every green housekeeper should have. Written by Natalie Wise, who must have one heck of a spotless house, the book is a treasure-trove of cleaning recipes.
Wise's eco-friendly cleaning journey began when she had allergic reactions to many conventional cleaners. That's when she discovered how many of them contain toxic ingredients. After switching to green cleaners, she grew frustrated with how ineffective they were, and how she often had to "clean up after the cleaning products."
Eventually, in an effort to cut down on costs, Wise began making her own cleaning products. That's when she discovered that thorough cleaning really only requires a few basic ingredients: white vinegar, baking soda, and castile soap to start. In the introduction, Wise writes:
"Making my own cleaning products invested me in the cleaning process. It invested me in the health of my own home and self. I'll be honest my interest was also partly monetary and partly, well, vain. A bottle of the standard tub-cleaning solution is nearly $6 these days, with the commercial organic version more than that. With an initial investment, you can keep your home clean for very little. Traditional chemical cleaners come in garish containers with warning labels all over them. I prefer a small tote full of natural ingredients in glass bottles and shakers, which looks clean and calm."
The book is divided into chapters for each room of the house. Each chapter includes recommended steps for purging, cleaning, and organizing (a lite version of the decluttering, minimalist books I've reviewed before), followed by room-specific recipes.
As expected, DIY recipes tend to be repetitive because they contain many of the same ingredients, just in different quantities depending on what their job is. There are all the usual all-purpose countertop cleaners, microwave and oven cleaners, glass cleaner, scummy sink and shower scrubbers, and toilet bowl cleaner.
But Wise goes above and beyond with a bunch of unexpected recipes. Have you ever wondered how to revive wooden spoons? Try her "Wonder Wax"! Or restore copper pots' shininess with ketchup, of all things. Use aluminium foil to get rust off bathroom faucets and make a refrigerator shiny again with a dash of olive oil.
She gives detailed cleaning instructions for random household objects, such as kids' icky lunch bags, backpacks, running shoes, and stuffed animals. Readers will learn how to clean everything from computer screens to lampshades to makeup brushes. There's an entire section on removing stains of all kinds. In other words, when this book says it's about the entire Modern Organic Home, it really is.
Perhaps the best thing about Wise's book is that it's inspiring. It has certainly infected me with the spring cleaning bug and makes me want to get to work immediately.
The Modern Organic Home: Recipes and Tips for Cleaning and Detoxing Your Home (Skyhorse, 2018) is available on Amazon, $16