March is going by fast and we’ve jumped forward an hour. You know what that means? Yes, it’s coming up to spring cleaning time and I can’t wait to throw open the windows to let the fresh air in. Along with more air and light, I feel the need to detoxify my body from an over-indulgence of rich food during the winter months.

As I search my cupboards under the sink, I take out, one after another, a cleaner for the stovetop, one for the granite countertops, one for the wooden floorboards, yet another for cleaning glass and, finally, a general all-round cleaner. It struck me: “Wow, how many cleaning products do I need?” and then: “What happened before we had all these manufactured cleaners?”

Okay, I’m a realist; I accept and live with the breakthroughs in technology, the manmade and processed, and I’m grateful for the modern conveniences, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make informed choices about what I use.

This spring, I’ve set myself the challenge of finding natural products to use around the house. Lest you think I’m going to turn into an “earth goddess” or “household warrior,” I can only say, I’m not the “live in a log cabin, kill and clean my own food, and make my own clothes kind of gal,” (even though my granny in rural Hong Kong taught me how to kill and pluck a chicken and that experience was more than enough!) But, I do want to do better with the resources I have.

Perhaps, my granny, mom and mom-in-law did know best when they passed on to me their natural remedies and techniques for house and body. However, knowledge is useless unless applied, so I have work to do.

Here, I share advice I’ve been given and have started to use.

Lemon juice is a great way to clean countertops. After using the juice to clean, I put the used lemon halves in the corners of the fridge to act as natural deodorizers.

Chinese believe that iced-cold water or orange juice is too much of a shock to the body first thing in the morning. Boiled water, left to cool, either plain or with a squeeze of lemon is the healthy way to wake the body’s systems and flush out toxins.

Lemon juice, honey and fresh ginger root, boiled together, make a great tonic for a cold or sore throat. Ginger root boiled in water is good for nausea.

Cinnamon powder mixed with honey to make a paste and used instead of jam is a yummy way to lower cholesterol. Likewise, you can add honey and cinnamon to tea to help reduce cholesterol.

Vegetable oil is a natural leather shoe shine. Remove any dirt with a damp cloth and use a drop of oil to polish the leather.

Who knew that standard school chalk tied in cheesecloth and stored alongside your good silverware slows down tarnishing?

I remember my father using distilled white vinegar and baking soda in scalding water to clean grease from restaurant appliances. Guess what, Dad? It works like a treat on my stove.

Pass on, share your tips and, this spring, do what comes naturally!

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Susan Shifay CheungSusan Shifay Cheung has turned her hand to many forms of writing in her various roles, over the years, as corporate trainer, management consultant, journalist and writer. You can contact her at y2s2cheung@yahoo.com.