Spring Cleaning: How to Clean Without Aerosols

Recipes for homemade, household cleaners that don't use aerosol, including wax based furniture polish, silver polish, pewter cleaner, window cleaner, oven cleaner, rug and carpet cleaner, and deodorant.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Editors
March/April 1975
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As of October 1974, the federal Consumer Products Safety Commission has banned the sale of household products chiefly paints, solvents, and degreasers—in aerosol cans that contain vinyl chloride (a proven carcinogen) as a propellant.  
PHOTO: FOTOLIA/ITESTRO


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Here it is, spring cleaning time again ... and if you're an observer of that ritual you'll be breaking out the buckets and sponges and rays and mops and checking over your stock of household aids. Which is an excellent opportunity to weed out any aerosol cans you may have around and set them aside while you consider the following information.

As of October 1974, the federal Consumer Products Safety Commission has banned the sale of household products chiefly paints, solvents, and degreasers—in aerosol cans that contain vinyl chloride (a proven carcinogen) as a propellant. The commission has called on manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to list any such goods they may have sold. Many of them, however, haven't yet done so ... and, since the nature of the propellant isn't noted on the can's label, you have no way of knowing what your brand of oven cleaner, or whatever, gets its squirt from.

Under the circumstances, the safest course is to put all those aerosol cans back on the shelf with their buttons unpressed. (Don't throw them away ... you're entitled to a refund for any product that turns out to contain the forbidden chemical.) Meanwhile, you can always substitute a less dramatic but equally effective cleaner from a plain old can, bottle, or box. Or you can try some of the following formulas for good results with less expense.

Furniture Polish (Wax Based)

1 quart mineral oil
2 tablespoons carnauba wax
Heat the two ingredients in a double boiler until the wax melts.Cool and bottle the mixture.

Furniture Polish

Lemon juice.
Denatured alcohol
Olive oil
Gum turpentine

Combine equal parts of the above ingredients. Dampen a clean woolen cloth or other lint less material with the mixture, apply the polish to your furniture, and wipe the wood with a dry rag.

Lemon Oil Furniture Polish

1 quart mineral oil
1 tablespoon lemon oil

Mix the two oils together and bottle them (or apply the polish from a plastic spray container).

Silver Polish

1 1/2 cups soap flakes
1 1/2 cups hot water
1/4 pound fine whiting (powdered calcium carbonate)
1 tablespoon ammonia

Dissolve the soap flakes in the water, allow the solution to cool, and add the other ingredients. Store the mixture in a tightly covered jar. Apply it with a soft cloth to smooth surfaces, or with a soft brush to embossed metal. Wash the silver thoroughly and wipe it dry.

To Clean Pewter

Pewter—a soft metal—should not be subjected to harsh polishes. For a dull finish, mix a paste of rottenstone and olive oil, rub it on with a soft cloth, wash the article, then rinse and wipe it dry. A bright shine can be created with the help of a paste made from whiting and denatured alcohol. Let the mixture dry on the surface ... then polish, wash, rinse, and wipe dry. If you prefer a commercial cleaner, use silver polish or a product made especially for pewter.

Window Cleaner

Any of the following formulas works well:

1 tablespoon ammonia or vinegar to 1 quart water
2 teaspoons borax or kerosene to 1 quart water
1 to 2 teaspoons washing soda or trisodium phosphate to 1 quart water In freezing weather, add 1/4 cup denatured alcohol for each quart of water.

Oven Cleaner

Heat the oven to 200°, turn it off, and place in it a bowl containing 1/2 cup of ammonia. Provide ventilation in the room and let the chemical stand overnight. In the morning, wash the compartment's interior surfaces with hot water and detergent.

Soap Solution for Cleaning Rugs

1 medium-sized bar mild white soap
1 ounce soap tree bark (I don't know what this is and haven't been able to find out. Can anyone tell one? — MOTHER.)
1 tablespoon household ammonia
4 quarts water

Shave the soap into 1 quart of warm water, add the soap tree bark, and heat or simmer the mixture until the soap dissolves (about 30 minutes). Remove the solution from the fire, strain, and let it cool. Then add the ammonia and the remaining 3 quarts of water. Allow the cleaner to stand 24 hours before use. It will take on a jelly–like consistency.

Test this mixture first on an inconspicuous part of the rug. If the color is' fast, apply the soap solution to a small area at a time. Scrub thoroughly and remove the lather with a spatula or dull knife. Then wipe off the remaining suds. Rinse the surface with a cloth wrung out in clear water. Dry the rug quickly, out-of-doors if possible.

Finally—since spring cleaning is a strenuous job at best—the following non-aerosol formula might come in handy:

Homemade Deodorant

2 tablespoons powdered alum
1 pint water

Mix the ingredients thoroughly and apply the solution to the underarm area with a pad or plastic spray, bottle.


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