Spring Cleaning The Home and Self
When spring rolls around, it seems we finally begin to get our energy back. The long winter blues melt away with the snow and a fresh new look on life springs into view. But what else springs into view can be disconcerting. With having the house all closed up over the winter months, coupled with the short dark days and the innate desire to hibernate the winter away, what we find when we finally emerge into spring is a dank, stale energy pervading the home. The remedy? Ah, it’s time for Spring Cleaning! With a great burst of energy we open all the windows, air out all the carpets and furniture, get the feather duster madly swishing and the vacuum roaring away. Nothing is spared when it comes to the spring-cleaning ritual!
We all have our own home remedies that work for cleansing out the house. The basic distilled white vinegar mixed with distilled water is a great natural cleanser for molds and mildews. I sometimes put a few drops of essential oil into the solution to help the smell, although the white vinegar is hard to mask. I thought it would be fun to look at some other home remedies that you might not have considered.
Maybe your bookcase is looking dusty and musty. Old books can have an underlying mold issue that eventually can affect the lungs. A safe and easy way to neutralize the musty smell and eliminate the mold is to place one or two books into a large paper bag filled with about a cup of clay kitty litter. Also place into the bag a few pieces of plain newspaper lightly impregnated with essential oils. The best to use for mold would be tea tree, the citruses, eucalyptus and/or the camphors. Close the bag and leave it for a couple of days. When opened, the books should smell fresh and clean. If at this time the smell isn’t gone, place some more paper in with essential oils for another couple of days.
To freshen up upholstery, you can sprinkle clay kitty litter or baking soda over the furniture and after a couple of hours just vacuum it up. Then you can mix some nice floral essential oils added to a solution of a little water and a little rubbing alcohol and spritz it over the upholstery to not only sanitize the fabric but also to leave it smelling clean and sweet. Some of the more disinfectant oils are lemon, tea tree, lavender, cedarwood and juniper. A couple of drops of any of the essential oils in the spray bottle are all you need.
We can wash most bed linens to freshen them up, but for down-filled comforters, it’s different. If they just need fluffing up and deodorizing, rather than sending them to a dry cleaners, a fun trick is to put them in your dryer with 3 or 4 tennis balls that have had a few drops of essential oils placed on them. Dry for 10 minutes on a low heat and the balls will fluff up the down and the essential oils will leave a pure natural scent. Relaxing oils should be used on bedding so that you won’t lie awake wondering why you can’t get to sleep. Some sedating oils are chamomile, lavender, marjoram, clary sage and linden berry. Floral essential oils are also nice to use at bedtime, and these would include rose, ylang ylang, rosewood, jasmine or geranium. Many of these are aphrodisiacs, which would be quite suitable for a bedding scent!
If you’ve been using your fireplace over the winter, there probably is an ashy, sooty smell lingering. You can fill a pan or a paper plate with baking soda and place it in the fireplace once all the ash has been removed. Putting a few drops of essential oils in the baking soda will lift the smells right out. Refreshing citrus essential oils can be used or if you like the woody smells (since it is a fireplace) try using spruce, cypress, pine, sandalwood or birch essential oils in the baking soda.
When placing all your winter clothes back in their boxes to be stored through the summer, why not replace those smelly moth-balls with a cedar strip or the cedar balls, as cedar is equally as effective in keeping moths away. You can oomph up the cedar balls by dripping some cedarwood essential oil on them. Or if you aren’t overly fond of cedarwood smells, you can add any essential oil that you like to the cedar balls to keep bugs at bay. Wouldn’t it be nice to open your sweater box next fall and have your garments smell like roses or lavender or geranium, all very reminiscent of the summer just passed? I usually place the impregnated cedar strip or balls in an old sock to protect my clothes from actually touching the essential oil on the wood. Most oils don’t leave any marks, but the darker wood oils might discolor a light fabric.
We can also use essential oils for spring cleaning ourselves to get rid of the internal emotional cobwebs, to open and air our psyches and to refresh our intentions. After all, after a long cold winter, snow bound and sun-deprived, we all need to open the windows to our inner Beings and shake off the lethargy, fatigue and depression from the hibernation months.
Because this winter was particularly challenging with all the snow, we all have felt the effects of outdoor expeditions. Walking on icy surfaces created a whole new dynamic in the body. Quite apart from the problems set up by slipping and falling on the ice, other body mechanics are altered when traversing snow and ice. Step length becomes shortened, feet aren’t lifted as high and all the muscles supporting walking are tightened. Muscle compensations begin to occur, setting up aches and pains through the back, legs and even shoulders. These patterns usually resolve themselves once a normal walking stride in introduced back into the body. But if there are any residual muscle tensions left, then aromatherapy can help. Bathing in a warm bath where essential oils are mixed into mineral or Epsom salts can ease the tension. Also you can add essential oils to a little vegetable oil (like olive, coconut or grapeseed) and rub the combo into your muscles. Oils that are recommended are eucalyptus, tea tree, chamomile, juniper, cypress, spruce, and black pepper.
Often after winter we have a foggy, sleepy mind. When the weather starts turning warmer, our mental faculties refresh and we feel more stimulated and alive. To assist the process in providing more mental clarity and mental stimulation, the best oils to burn in an aroma lamp either in combination or singly are rosemary, peppermint, lemon, basil, ginger, tea tree and cypress.
After a prolonged period of time with less exercise and movement, sometimes the digestive tract needs a little spring-cleaning. Essential oils can be massaged in a carrier oil over the abdomen in a clockwise direction to help assimilate food and improve metabolic functioning. Some oils that are good for digestion are ginger, anise, fennel, chamomile, thyme, basil, cardamom, and hyssop.
In Chinese Five Element Medicine, spring is the when the Liver and Gallbladder are highlighted. I have already written in past articles about Liver cleansing so I’ll just recap here. The Liver is the largest gland of the body dealing with many different functions from metabolism, synthesis and storage of nutrients, detoxification, balance of hormonal levels, heat production and secretion of bile. Headaches, eye strain, muscle spasms, joint pain and menstrual problems can also be related to a liver issue since the liver governs these tissues so any toxicity in the liver can lead to problems in these areas. When imbalanced the liver can cause referred pain to the right shoulder, neck and scapula. Emotionally, there can be restlessness with liver dysfunction, an inability to get things done and general agitation. One may feel aimless, compulsive and may tend to complain a lot. Liver stagnation can lead to stagnation in one’s life. The emotion most associated with the liver is anger. After winter, we often feel many of these issues, so a good liver flush is always advisable. And to assist and liver cleansing, essential oils are very handy. Massaging the abdomen in a clockwise direction with essential oils in a carrier oil can encourage detoxification of the liver. A gentle rocking massage motion on the liver will help to mobilize and strengthen the organ. Salt baths with essential oils are another way of detoxing the body. Mixing oils in an alcohol rub is also an effective way of relieving the pain and discomfort from muscle spasms, which may be caused by a dysfunctional liver. And of course general massage to the whole body can stimulate the production of red blood cells, cleanse the acids from the tissues and balance the psyche of an irritated live condition. Essential oils that can be used are helichrysum, lemon, cyptress, clary sage, chamomile, lavender and rose.
To fluff up our auras and get the dust shaken off our energy bodies after a cold long winter, the best essential oils to spray in a spritzer bottle all around our energy fields are frankincense, cedarwood, myrrh, galbanum, elemi, jasmine, sandalwood, vetiver, mugwort, helichrysum and sage. This will ensure a light and invigorated auric body.
So this spring, take as much time to clean and clear yourself, as you would to spring clean your house. Remember that the house is the macrocosm’s reflection of your body’s microcosm. Both need refreshing!