pen rainbow

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday—Good for You, Good for The Home

No-Streak Glass Cleaner
Spring Cleaning!  Non-Toxic, Homemade Cleaning Solutions


Store-bought cleaning solutions are usually pretty expensive, especially if you buy non-toxic, aromatherapeutic cleaning products like I do.  My favorites are the Caldrea products (check out their new fragrances) and Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day products (love the lemon verbena and lavender scents).  I've used the Method line of cleaning products for a long time, and I especially like their wood cleaning wipes.

As part of my on-going battle against general household grunge, and I'm going to try out a couple of homemade cleaning solutions.

Here's a recipe for No-Streak Glass Cleaner from easy~homemade~recipes.com:

1/4 c. white vinegar
1 T. cornstarch
2 c. warm water

Don't use too much vinegar or the acid will etch the glass surface and cloud the glass over time.

Mix the ingredients & pour into a spray bottle.  Wipe with crumbled newspaper for no-streak results.

Peppermint Wood Floor Cleaner
For wood floors, from eartheasy.com:

Mix equal parts of white vinegar and warm water.
Add 15 drops of pure peppermint oil.
Shake to mix & use with a damp mop to clean wood floors.

Results
Great news!  Both of these homemade household cleaners did a pretty good job!

No-Streak Glass Cleaner — I used this inside and out on a deck door window that hasn't been totally cleaned since last Fall.  There was a lot of dirt build-up on the outside glass, so it took a couple of extra swipes with the newspapers to erase all of the grime.  But, it lived it up its "no-streak" claim, for the most part.  I added 3 drops of peppermint oil to the solution to give it a minty scent, and that may have caused some noticeable streaking.  It buffed right out with a clean, dry cloth.  Without the oil, there should be no streaking at all.

Would I use the glass cleaner again?
Yes, it is great on heavily soiled windows.

Peppermint Wood Floor Cleaner 
Pros

  • Dries quickly
  • Leaves a nice shine (Leaves a very light film, less than most commercially available wood floor cleaners; could be easily dry mopped to buff up the shine even more)
  • Cost-effective
  • Environmentally-friendly
  • No toxic chemicals 
  • Pleasant minty scent while you're mopping.  It has a very crisp, cleaning-day kind of smell
  • It will clear out your sinuses


Cons

  • There are equal parts vinegar to water in this, so it has a pretty strong vinegar smell.  The peppermint drops cut the vinegar a little bit, but it is still pretty strong.  I opened up a couple of windows while I was cleaning the floor.  Most floor cleaners leave a fairly strong smell that lingers, so it's a matter of how tolerant you are of vinegar.
  • As with any wood floor, you don't want to let this pool up while it's drying.  So, go light and use a damp mop, not a wet one.  I did have a couple of spots on the wood after it dried; these were easily removed with a damp rag.
  • Fragrance sensitive folks would be overwhelmed by the smells
  • If used on a regular basis, the vinegar might not be so great for the laminate finish 

Would I use the wood floor cleaner again?
I'm not sure.  I used the wood cleaner on a Hartco wood laminate floor.  (I'll pause a moment while any wood floor contractors who might be reading this can gnash & wail about using the wrong cleaning solution on a laminate floor.)  My Hartco wood floor happens to be the James Brown of wood floors.  I swear, it can stand up to anything, including cats, dogs, kids, husbands, appliance installers, hard flying objects, water, and indirect sunlight.  I keep the shades down in the afternoon so that direct sun does not hit the wood.

Wood laminates don't require a lot of wet mopping, but I like to keep my floors really clean, so I sweep and use a Swiffer dry mop every day, then damp mop it once a week.  Manufacturers of laminate flooring discourage wet mopping because pooling can cause the wood to warp as it dries.  However, all sorts of dirt and other household grunge (cat barf, cat pee, street grime, etc.) collects in the fine crevices of the wood, so I give it a thorough cleaning once a week.

On the one hand, this stuff really did a good job cleaning the floor.  Otoh, I was not crazy about making my house smell like vinegar.  Using half as much vinegar might reduce the strong smell, and it would probably be as effective for light cleaning jobs.

Tuesday's Cupboard—Oven BBQ'd Citrus Marmalade Chicken

Oven-bbq'd Meyer lemon marmalade chicken
A great way to use orange or lemon marmalade!


SPRING is here, and it's time to start thinking about chicken recipes that make the most of the season's invigorating flavors.


Serves 4
Prep Time:  About an hour


Preheat oven to 450°F


ingredients
1 pack of chicken drumsticks (about 8 drumsticks)
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1/2 c. any kind of citrus marmalade

directions
1.  Clean chicken legs & remove skin layer at the base of the bone with a sharp knife.  Dab most of the water off with a paper towel.

2.  Line a baking sheet with foil & spray it with a light layer of PAM.  Arrange chicken legs in a single layer & season with salt & pepper.  Bake for 10 mins. on 450°.

3.  Brush with half of the marmalade & return to oven for 20 mins.

4.  Carefully remove chicken from oven & reduce oven temp to 350°.  Brush chicken legs with remaining marmalade & return to oven.  Bake for 10 more mins. until marmalade is carmelized to a dark brown & meat is starting to separate from the bone.

5.  Serve on a bed of seasoned couscous or lentils & rice mixture.

What's great about this recipe is that chicken legs are inexpensive ($2.29 for a package at Safeway this week), and it's a wonderful way to use the fresh, crisp flavors of citrus marmalades.

(non-organic) heritage strawberries from Safeway
Heritage Strawberries—Something new!

Yesterday, I bought a container of strawberries from our local Safeway (on Broadway), and it was tagged as a variety from 1975.  Pretty neat!  I hope that major grocery chains continue to get with the heritage food movement.  Safeway should market a new line of heritage produce under their "O" organic label.

heritage seed varieties
Farmer's markets usually have a spectacular supply of organic strawberries this time of year.  Or, head to your local nursery and start growing your own.  I got these heritage veggie packs from Orchard Nursery in Lafayette.