The region is coming alive after months of slumber. The wattle is blooming, along with the Manchurian pears, plum trees and the beginning of cherry blossoms. After the darkness of an admittedly mild winter (despite a cold start in May), spring is in the air. And with it brings the desire to spring clean.
I don’t know what it is with spring heralding the need for spring cleaning, but every year I toss off the lethargy of winter and decide to focus on making my home sparkle.
My aim each year is to also get my tween and teen sons involved in household cleaning. This is not always super successful, but one thing that does work is whipping up a batch of my orange miracle spray.
Why make your own?
One of the big reasons is the cost. Pre-COVID, the Australian Bureau of Statistics tells us that Australians spent around $4.6 billion per year on household cleaning products. Yep, that’s billion. A good way to tell what consumer items people spend money on is to think about the aisle space that supermarkets dedicate to cleaning. And there’s always at least one for cleaning.
A second reason to make your own is that many homemade recipes actually work. While I love watching a good cleanfluencer video (oh, I only wish I could be that clean, neat and organised!), I know that many products are just hope in a bottle. Well, some DO work well, but few are totally transformative in the way they claim.
And third, I like to make my own products for environmental reasons. Sadly, many products are unnecessarily harsh, and many are toxic. We live in our homes and are affected by what we breathe and touch in our environments. It’s especially important to avoid things that are likely to harm our health, especially if you have young ones or even pets in your home as they are particularly vulnerable to toxic cleaning products.
My latest book, How to Pay Your Mortgage Off in 10 Years, has a chapter devoted to cleaning products. I loved writing this chapter: just like studying for an exam, I did lots of cleaning as a form of research (aka procrastination). This is a recipe for an orange oil spray that uses up orange or mandarin peels. It cuts through grease while leaving your home smelling like Christmas. You can just do the first step (which is a great way to use orange or mandarin peels). The resulting liquid is a pretty good cleaner and is ideal for surfaces that need a minimal clean.
But you can go one step further and make my miracle orange spray that is great for super greasy things like range hoods and even ovens. The secret ingredient is Lectric Washing Soda, which you can find in larger supermarkets. It is usually found on a bottom shelf as it’s not a big brand product. It temporarily sold out during the COVID lockdown due to people making homemade products like this one, but thankfully, it is now easier to obtain.
- 1 clean glass jar (such as a leftover pasta sauce jar)
- Leftover orange peel (pith and fruit removed)
- White vinegar
- Clean spray bottle (you can use old window cleaner bottles and the like for this)
- Fill a jar (preferably one that has just come out of the dishwasher, as it will be clean and sterile) with orange peels.
- Pour enough white vinegar into the jar to cover the peels. It’s important to ensure that all of the orange peels are fully covered.
- Put the lid on the jar tightly, place it in a dark place (for example, a cupboard) and allow it to sit for several weeks.
- Place a Chux or cheesecloth into the mouth of a funnel over another clean glass jar.
- Filter the contents of the jar by pouring it through the funnel into a second jar.
- Pour this filtered concentrate into a leftover spray bottle to around two-thirds full
- Top the spray bottle up with water.
You can use this spray as it is for things like stovetops and benches that get sticky and greasy. It also works well for glass, stainless steel, ceramics and tiles, and cleaning the toilet. But you can make this even stronger by using orange vinegar in the following recipe.
Orange miracle spray
- 1 cup boiling water
- 3 tablespoons Lectric Washing Soda
- 2 cups room-temperature water
- 300 ml undiluted orange vinegar
- 4 tablespoons dishwashing liquid
- Combine the Lectric Washing Soda with boiling water in a large bowl or jug and stir to dissolve.
- Add water, orange vinegar and dishwashing liquid and stir to combine.
- Pour into spray bottles.
Serina Bird is a self-styled frugalista who built wealth through saving and investing. She is host of The Joyful Frugalista podcast and author of How to Pay Your Mortgage Off in 10 Years (Even When Interest Rates Are Going Up), The Joyful Startup Guide and The Joyful Frugalista.