Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Greener Spring Cleaning: Part 6 (Homemade Furniture Polish)

If you've been following along with my series on greener spring cleaning solutions then you have probably already seen how to clean:
  1. windows
  2. room freshening spray
  3. carpet stains and hard floors
  4. tubs, counters, and sinks
  5. toilets
If you happened to miss any of those, just click on the links to learn more.

Chances are that you've got some wooden furniture somewhere in your house that could use a little TLC. Whether it's dull, dirty, or covered in sticky finger prints, this homemade recipe for dusting solution/furniture polish can take care of it. It cleans and conditions the wood, leaving nothing behind but a beautiful shine  -- no harsh or dangerous chemicals. (I'm not going to claim that it will repair dings and scratches, but it certainly can't hurt!)

You can quickly and easily make this at home with just two common ingredients: olive oil and distilled white vinegar. (Thanks Green Grandma, for teaching me this!) There are a couple of different options, both very inexpensive and effective!

Option 1: Basic "Salad Dressing" Furniture Polish
Mix equal parts olive oil (mine is extra virgin, but use whatever you have at hand) with distilled white vinegar. (If you still don't have this, you need to get some -- preferably a gallon -- because you can clean anything with it!) Place in container (I use a glass jar that used to hold honey mustard) and label it: 50/50 olive oil/DWV. You can add a note that it's for furniture polish. Apply to wooden furniture (or lots of other stuff; see my list below) with a microfiber cloth and wipe clean.

Option 2: Extra Oomph "Orange Power" Furniture Polish 
This is my preference, and I've been using it for about 2 1/2 years. The citrus smells pleasant and it's a natural de-greaser. Bonus! (If you're new to cleaning with vinegar, this might be a good introduction since it doesn't smell like straight vinegar and people often complain that they can't stand the vinegar smell. Trust me, though, you will get used to it. And someday, you may grow to hate the smell of all store-bought cleaners! It happened to me.)

I used to just make my orange-vinegar by soaking orange peels in my vinegar for an indeterminate amount of time... It shouldn't go bad for a loooooong time. Then, I would pour out some of my orange-vinegar and mix it with the olive oil whenever I needed a new batch of furniture polish. Again, mix equal parts of orange-vinegar with olive oil, store in a labeled glass jar, and apply with microfiber cloth.

{3-Ingredient Homemade Furniture Polish}

Notes on Making Orange Power Vinegar:
At a recent MOPS meeting, I learned that you can also strain the orange vinegar after two weeks of soaking. (Shake the jar whenever you happen to think of it.) Then, place it in a spray bottle and voila! Homemade citrus cleaner that you can use most anywhere. You can also keep some in the jar, because like I said, it should last a very long time.

I haven't tried it with lemon or grapefruit peels, but I have used clementine peels, and they also work. I think any citrus peel is handy for this. When you're ready to toss out the peels that have already soaked and served their purpose, just toss them in your garbage disposal and run it for cleaning and deodorizing.

{Left = BEFORE, Right = AFTER}

Places I have used this furniture polish with success:
  • tables
  • chairs
  • book cases
  • picture frames (best for wood, but can be used on other frames -- avoid smearing glass, if possible)
  • wooden legs of upholstered furniture
  • kitchen cabinets
  • knick knacks
  • window ledges
  • banisters/stair rails
  • dressers
  • wall shelves
  • particle board/MDF type furniture pieces
  • removing stickers and sticky residue (Just yesterday, Mia was coloring at the dining table and her drawing paper was stuck to who knows what? Anyway, the paper tore when she tried to pick it up, leaving behind a sticky mess. I grabbed my orange power furniture polish and a microfiber cloth and easily removed it all without too much elbow grease. Better and safer than Goo Gone!)
  • electronics (I am NOT suggesting that you do this, merely confessing that I have done so very carefully when I already had the cloth in my hand and was cleaning the entertainment center anyway... Usually, I flip over the cloth, so it's more of a "dry dust" for the TV, DVD player, etc. Again, I don't recommend it, but it has worked for me with no negative effects that I am aware of.)

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