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Try These Eco-Friendly Spring Cleaning Recipes and Tips

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Spring's nearly here, and that means fresh air, chirping birds, and... spring cleaning, of course! To help you save money and walk a little more lightly on the earth, here are a few eco-friendly tips—and some recipes to make your own cleaning supplies, too! (Recipes adapted from a great little book we love—Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills by Raleigh Briggs.)

Got bottles?—Save a few spray bottles from commercially prepared cleaning products to refill later with your own cleaning concoctions. For instance, if you have Windex or a similar glass-cleaner with a spray nozzle, thoroughly wash it out with hot, soapy water. (As you go, be sure to squirt soapy water through the spray nozzle, too!) Next, rinse well and allow to air dry. Fill with homemade Mirror Cleaner. (See recipe below.)

Rags to Riches—Save money and landfill space by using rags instead of paper towels. Cut into squares, old T-shirts or retired pajama pants can be used again and again for cleaning windows, mirrors, floors, and more. Simply launder them after each use and store with your cleaning supplies, so they'll be ready again when you are.

Soap scraps—You can grate small, leftover Mad Optimist bar soap scraps by hand or with a food processor to include in homemade laundry detergent. New, full-size soaps such as Lav-ida Loca also work well. (See recipe below.)

Mirror, mirror—Combine one-and-one-half cups of white vinegar, one-half cup water, four to eight drops of citrus-heavy essential oil like lemon, orange, or grapefruit. Alternately, you might try lemongrass, tea tree, or eucalyptus. Mix well, pour into a clean spray bottle, and label accordingly. Shake well before each use.

Mostly all-purpose cleaner—You'll need five cups grated soap, one-half cup baking soda, six cups hot peppermint or lemon peel tea, one teaspoon eucalyptus essential oil, and one teaspoon borax for this Make Your Place recipe. Simmer the grated soap and hot tea in a stainless steel saucepan for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Stir in the rest of the ingredients one at a time. Pour into a clean jug or spray bottle and label. Shake well before each use.

Sudsy duds—You can cut down on a lot of packaging waste by making your own laundry detergent. All you need is one-half cup grated bar soap, one-half cup baking soda, one-quarter cup washing soda, one-quarter cup borax, and the essential oils of your choice. (Peppermint and lavandin make a nice combination!) Store in a dry, airtight container and label. Use one-half cup for each regular-sized load of laundry.