Page 26 THE VILLADOM TIMES II & IV • May 6, 2009 Home Improvement & Gardening (ARA) Is your spring cleaning really as clean as you think it is? Spring cleaning is supposed to be a ritual of purging the accumulated dirt, germs, and odor from a winter-weary home to create a clean and healthy living space. Unfortunately, the often caustic and toxic ingredients used in most conventional cleaning products can be just as harmful as the dirt and germs they eliminate. Even some so-called natural cleansers can contain these same or similar nasty ingredients. And you would know this only if the manufacturer practices full disclosure of ingredients on its labels, which is not required on home care products. Think about it: When was the last time you saw a full ingredient listing on your spray cleaner? The best way to make sure your living space is clean and healthy is to use safe, natural cleaning products you create yourself, using natural and inexpensive ingredients you can pick up at any natural grocery store. It’s cost-effective, not difficult and it’s satisfying and rewarding. You can craft your own versions of everything from carpet cleaner to furniture dusting polish -- and have the satisfying assurance that you are keeping your home green and clean. Whether you’re shopping for prepared natural cleaning solutions or making your own, keep in mind that the word “aromatherapy” is being applied to everything scented from dishwashing liquid to laundry detergent. The true practice of aromatherapy relies on using pure essential oils extracted from plants. According to Tom Havran, aromatherapy product devel- Spring Easy ways to go green this spring cleaning season oper at Aura Cacia, “These natural plant essences nurture us on mental, emotional, physical and even spiritual levels.” He adds, “While house cleaning isn’t exactly a spiritual exercise, adding the effects and properties of essential oils to your homemade household products can enhance the experience and the effectiveness of your task.” Essential oils have potent antimicrobial effects along with their clean, pleasant natural aromas. Here are a few “classic” homecare essential oils suggested by Havran: lemon (clean, sweet, uplifting scent; deodorizing), peppermint (minty, fresh; air purifier; mild pest repellent), and eucalyptus and tea tree (air and surface sanitizers). Tom also has a list of key ingredients for making your own homecare products: * Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) -- Gently abrasive scouring powder, odor absorber and an excellent base for making your own cleaning preparations. * Washing soda (sodium carbonate) * Borax (sodium borate) -- Natural mineral compound, laundry booster, multipurpose cleanser, and fungicide/ insecticide. * White distilled vinegar (acetic acid) * Liquid soap (sodium hydroxide) -- Choose from vegetable oil-based soaps such as olive oil or sweet almond. * Distilled water -- Clean, distilled water acts as a better carrier and dirt solvent. Tap water will often contain salts and minerals that can lead to spotting and buildup. * Essential oils * Spray bottles * Natural bristle scrubbing brushes * Squeeze bottles * Cotton dusting cloth * Hemp or jute fiber scrubbing cloth * Tote to put it all in Follow these simple recipes for making your own basic homecare products: Basic Spray Cleaner 2 cups water 1/2 teaspoon sodium borate 1/4 teaspoon liquid soap 36 drops essential oil Gentle Scouring Cream 1/2 cup baking soda Liquid soap 18 drops essential oil Add essential oils to baking soda and blend. Next, incorporate the liquid soap, several drops at a time, until a creamy paste forms. 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