10 D.I.Y. Spring Cleaning Tips

A few eco-friendly spring cleaning products

It’s that time of year again when many of us (although maybe not all of us!) feel a strong urge to refresh and reinvigorate our homes by giving them a deep spring cleaning to be ready for the fine weather that we hope is on its way.

Needless to say, if you’re not interested in spring cleaning tips – or cleaning at all for that matter – read no further and just callCarlos instead and let our professional cleaning service take care of the work for you! Nonetheless, we thought we’d share a few handy and environmentally friendly cleaning tips with you that you might like to try yourself at home – just in case!

Did you know?

Did you know that the tradition of spring cleaning probably came to us from ancient pre-Islamic Iran? The spring equinox on 21 March, called Nowruz in Persian, was the first day of the new year in the Iranian calendar and so in the two preceding weeks, people would buy new clothes and clean absolutely everything in their houses from top to bottom. They also performed rituals such as burning and planting as symbols of hope for the coming year. The Chinese also had cleaning traditions at the start of their new year, as did the Jews around their feast of the Passover.

If you are doing a bit clear out of all your old “junk” as part of your spring cleaning, don’t forget to recycle what you can – including the bigger and more awkward objects. There are special recycling centres called Deixallerias (in Catalan) where you can get rid of electronic items, batteries, light bulbs, ink cartridges, oil, items of furniture, garden waste, tyres and basically anything you can’t dispose of through normal waste disposal. You can check online or with the local town hall for the closest one to you and its opening hours

“Top 10” Spring Cleaning Tips

Our suggestions are all homemade D.I.Y. knacks using old-school/traditional eco ingredients, so you don’t need to go out and buy those expensive and not-very-environmentally-friendly cleaning products that then sit in your cupboards for months/years on end!

1. Cleaning the oven

This is a job that nobody likes, but for this, as for many of the other jobs below, you’ll find that two of your best friends are baking soda and white vinegar!

First of all, remove everything you can from the inside of the oven. Then mix some of your bicarbonato de sodio with water (that’s baking soda in Spanish, in case you’re looking for it in a store) until the mixture has the consistency of a paste. Next, wearing gloves and using a sponge, cover every centimetre of the inside with the paste (except the element) and leave for a few hours, or overnight for even better results.

Next morning, use a damp cloth to wipe away the mixture and if some of the paste doesn’t come away easily, spray it with a little vinegar, which reacts with the baking soda and then scrape away any particularly stubborn bits using whatever is handy (but that isn’t metal). When you have removed all the gunk, give the oven another spray with the vinegar and wipe down again. Job done!

2. Looking after your dishwasher

This job is much easier! First of all, remove the bottom rack and inspect the drain for any chunky food remnants, removing anything you find. Replace the lower rack and then place approx. 500ml of vinegar in an upright and uncovered glass (or any dishwasher safe) container on the top rack and run a full hot water cycle, without any dishwasher soap.

Then throw around 120g of baking soda into the machine and run another half-cycle. Once finished, leave the dishwasher open to air for a while. This very simple task shouldn’t really be left until your annual spring cleaning, but rather repeated every couple of months in order to keep your dishwasher operating at its best and help to prolong its life.

3. Polishing wood the natural way

Here’s another easy one for you. Combine three parts olive oil and one part lemon juice to create a beautiful natural polish for your wooden furniture. We don’t recommend that you use your Can Solivera extra virgin olive oil for this though – a cheaper no-brand oil will do the job!

4. Cleaning a mattress

While you’re on your spring cleaning drive, why not give your mattresses a new lease of life? This is an especially good idea if anyone in the house suffers from allergies. Once you have stripped off the bed sheets, hoover the mattress well and then sprinkle it with a good amount of baking soda, spreading the powder around the entire surface with a brush, the idea being to let the baking soda filter into the mattress.

After an hour or so, hoover the mattress again. Then, lightly spray it with some warm water with a little washing-up liquid, being sure not to wet the mattress too much. After a few minutes scrub the surface with a damp sponge or towel and leave the mattress to air until dry. Investing in a mattress pad is also a good idea as it protects the mattress, meaning you need to clean far less frequently, and is easily machine washable.

5. Cleaning oil and grease stains

This one isn’t so much a spring cleaning suggestion as a general everyday tip. If you should spill oil onto a surface that might stain, sprinkle it immediately with some flour and leave it for a few minutes, before wiping clean with a damp cloth or sponge. If you have a grease stain you can’t get rid of, sprinkle it with salt and some grapefruit juice and then give it a scrub after a few minutes. No more stain! Grapefruit juice and salt also combine to give your countertops an impressive shine.

6. Making your own window cleaner

Back in the day windows were cleaned using a combination of approx. 500ml of water with 120ml of white vinegar or cider vinegar, 60ml of rubbing alcohol and a few drops of essential oils – and it still works today! If you haven’t cleaned your windows since last spring (!) it’s best to give them a quick once over first with some warm slightly soapy water and a brush or sponge to get rid of most of the dirt. Don’t worry about streaks at this stage. Then spray on Grandma’s recipe above and wipe off with some old newspaper to leave your windows crystal clear and streak-free.

7. Cleaning the coffee machine

Coffee residue builds up over time and can leave your coffee maker a little less than hygienic and not looking too good. Thankfully, our old friend vinegar can help. First of all clean and rinse all the parts you can. Then, as if you were brewing coffee, run a normal coffee-making cycle with a half vinegar/half water mix – and without the coffee, of course – at least once, or twice for even better results.

Then run the cycle again with just water and no vinegar and your coffee machine should be as good as new. Vinegar diluted in water also helps get rid of coffee stains on fabrics. Soak the affected area in the solution and then run through the laundry with the rest of the wash.

8. Whitening clothes with lemon juice

If your summer whites are looking a bit less white than they used to, now is a good time to give them a spruce up. Soak those faded shirts (or whatever) in warm water with lemon juice for a couple of hours – the juice of one good-sized lemon to approximately 4 litres of water should do the trick – and then run through the rinse cycle in your washing machine. For best results hang them out to dry in the sunshine and your brilliantly whitened shirts will be all ready for the summer.

9. Removing limescale

Those of us living on the Costa Brava will be well familiar with cal, as the locals call it, or calcium carbonate, to give it its full name, or simply lime (and not the kind you use when making mojitos!). There are products you can buy in the supermarkets to combat the buildup of limescale deposits but there are natural remedies that are cheaper, more environmentally friendly, just as effective, and which don’t leave an aftertaste in appliances such as kettles and coffee machines.

The above method for cleaning your coffee machine cleans the cal as well and the same half water/half vinegar solution also works for your kettle and even your shower-head, if you leave it soaking overnight. Afterwards, if your teléfono (as the Spanish call a shower-head!) still has scaly bits, these should be easily removable with a needle.

You can also use this magical vinegar-water spray on tiles and bathroom fittings from time to time to prevent limescale buildup, or alternatively, you could also use lemon juice. Squeeze a lemon and then place the squeezed half-lemons over the taps. Then wrap a cloth soaked in the juice around the taps over the half-lemons to keep them in place, and leave overnight. In the morning give everything a wipe and marvel at your shiny new fittings.

10. Getting rid of those pesky flies!

Now that you have your house spotlessly clean, the last thing you want is flies buzzing annoyingly around and ruining the mood. The good news is that now that everything is so clean, it’s less likely flies should be a problem anyway, but even still, flies can be persistent and very annoying.

Let’s take those little fruit flies first of all. They like damp dark places like drains, so pouring a half-and-half mix of vinegar and water (again!) down your drains will kill any fruit flies that have set up camp there. Another trick is to put some apple cider vinegar in a bowl, cover it with cling-film and make a few small holes with a toothpick. The fruit flies will be attracted by the scent and will make their way inside the dish, but then won’t be able to get out. They also seem to be very fond of wine, but you’ll be wanting to keep that for yourself! Once they’re gone you can keep them away by not leaving any dark corners get damp, not leaving dirty dishes in the sink, and washing any fruit or veg as soon as you get home from the market. If any fruit or veg show signs of going off, get rid of immediately!

Keeping your house clean will also help keep regular house flies away, but it’s hard to be rid of them completely, especially in summer. If you have a few flies that just won’t get out of your house and keep flying around in circles, try using a sugary drink to trap them. Cut the top third off a plastic bottle, quarter-fill the lower part with some sweet, sugary drink and then place the top third of the bottle upside down into the lower part. The flies will fly in, but they won’t fly out!

Another useful tip is to grow basil, mint, or bay leaves outside, ideally just beside windows or doors, as these are naturally repellent to most insects, including flies and mosquitos.

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