Twas the night before “go-time” and all through the house, not a dust bunny stirred, I even ironed my blouse.
Gluten-free pastries, redolent with spice, cooled as I arranged crackers, made with rice.
The stainless steel gleamed and the granite shone bright…and as I looked around, I knew all would be right.
With the holidays just around the corner, we thought it only fitting to discuss holiday prep, in particular cleaning your home for guests, gatherings and seasonal soirées.
Now, don’t get us wrong, we’re not going to give you the white-glove treatment, but we do want to give you some green cleaning tips, products and strategies for holiday home keeping without making you see red.
That’s right, we said let go.
Before we share our cleaning secrets, we want to share our philosophy about the holidays. We believe the holidays are about spending time with family and friends, enjoying good food, reveling and reflecting, and giving and/or receiving a gift or two.
We don’t believe that the holidays require you to knock yourself out cleaning the house from floor to ceiling, renovating the kitchen or organizing every drawer. Leave that for January, when the snow piles up and the temperature really drops.
Trust us, no one will notice a dust bunny or two or three.
Green It Up, Clean It Up
Do you know which cleaning products are naughty and which are nice? The naughty ones are chemical- and petroleum-based concoctions designed to “clean” your home with potentially toxic gels, powders, liquids and abrasives. Natural products harness the cleaning prowess of eco-ingredients for effective alternatives that are gentle on the earth and tough on dirt. Even if you don’t have allergies or sensitivities, cleaning your home with a chemical cocktail just doesn’t make sense. Here are a few of our natural cleaning faves for banishing grease, grime and sticky fingerprints from your home.
1) Salt, Lemon, Vinegar and Baking Soda—oh my!
Making your own household cleaners is easy, economical* and the results are undeniable. Your pantry is probably stocked with everything you need to make your house sparkle. Salt removes coffee and tea stains from cups. Vinegar cuts grease. Baking soda is a great air freshener.
Here’s our favorite recipe for polishing mirrors with a streak-free shine:
Mix ¼-cup lemon juice with a half gallon of water in a spray bottle. Instead of paper towels, use soft, lint-free rags or newspapers for a professional finish.
See more green cleaning tips from our friends at Ecology Center.
*Oh, did we mention this earth-wise eco-option is budget-friendly too? Save your money for entertaining indulgences like good olive oil, imported chocolates and cheeses, and a live jazz quartet.
2) Mrs. Meyers
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day products are earth-friendly, cruelty-free and inspired by a real person: Mrs. Thelma A. Meyer is an Iowa homemaker and mother of nine.
Mrs. Meyer’s products are hard-working cleaners made with plant-derived essential oils that are powerful against dirt and grime. Best of all, they’re phosphate free, biodegradable and never tested on animals.
Look for household cleaner essentials like liquid dish soap, countertop spray, all-purpose cleaner, surface scrub, bathroom cleaner, glass cleaner and toilet bowl cleaner, available in Mrs. Meyer’s classic scents, including basil, lavender, lemon verbena, geranium, rosemary, honeysuckle, apple, parsley and baby blossom.
In addition to Mrs. Meyer’s classic scents, you’ll find scrumptious holiday inspired-scents including Iowa pine, orange clove, cranberry and gingerbread.
We love Gingerbread! Its spiced warmth and rich aroma evoke happy holiday memories and transports us back to Grandma’s house.
3) Seventh Generation
One of the pioneers in the world of healthy household cleaners, Seventh Generation had us from the get-go with its Mission Statement:
“To inspire a revolution that nurtures the health of the next seven generations.”
Seventh Generation features products that truly protect human health and the environment, while getting your house sparkling clean. We love the Free & Clear All-Purpose Cleaner and its sister cleaner, Free & Clear Glass Cleaner. Both are non-toxic, biodegradable and deep clean without harsh fumes.
You can also sign up for money-saving coupons from Seventh Generation.
Breath of Fresh Air
Keep your home smelling fresh and party ready with eco-air fresheners that eliminate odors naturally, instead of covering them up with chemicals.
Invented during Victorian times, pomanders fill the air with the sweet scent of fruit and spice, and they’re a natural air refresher and moth repellant.
To make your own, simply press whole cloves into fresh oranges (use a chopstick or knitting needle to create the holes, to make it easier on your finger tips). Tie a ribbon around the orange and hang as a decoration. Leave off the ribbon and fill a decorative bowl with pomanders.
Purchased from Christmas tree lots, floral shops, or cut your own, pine tree greens add natural beauty and a fresh, festive fragrance to your home. Arrange as part of a centerpiece or use to adorn a fireplace mantle.
Look for natural potpourri made with organic and/or natural fibers scented with essential oils, not chemicals. Place in holiday glassware, pottery bowls, ceramic dishes and set around your home.
Choose naturally fragrant wreaths made with real pine or organic materials. Make your own with wire wreath forms available at most craft stores. Just arrange and attach pine greens, holly, ivy, dried flowers and herbs, ribbons and bows with floral wire to create unique indoor/outdoor decorations.
A Few (More) of Our Favorite Cleaning Tips
• Clean out the fridge.
• Give garbage cans a good scrubbing.
• Dust off small appliances used for holiday baking and meals.
• Wash extra serving pieces, dinnerware, barware and silverware and check to make sure you have enough for everyone.
• Clear out the spice cupboard and replace tired sage, cinnamon and nutmeg with fresh new spices.
• Clear out junk rooms and drawers, discard unwanted items and donate them. (Donations are tax write-offs too!). Here are some ideas: