Every year in February I start to get this urge to clean. I guess it's a spring cleaning thing, or maybe it's that it's cold outside and I'm stuck inside staring at the hairballs my dogs have deposited on and under every stationary surface.
Either way, this is no small "I think the floor needs a good sweeping" thing I'm talking about here. It becomes a near-obsession for me. I begin to daydream about it at work, planning where I'm going to take my bags of old clothes and piles of old magazines, and thinking of how fabulous I'm going to feel when there's nothing left of my living room but the (clean) carpet and furniture. Truthfully, I feel claustrophobic surrounded by lots of stuff. Puffy pillows and fuzzy blankets start to crowd in on me until I'm suffocating under all the coziness. Bits and pieces of the hobbies occupying the long winter evenings commandeer tabletops and counters, frazzling my nerves by their very presence. I can barely stand it, being closed in, trapped by the cold outside into my cave of stuff.
It's in the midst of this planned attack on the dirt in my surroundings that I become particularly vulnerable to marketing. Marketers know what they are doing, and let me tell you, I am a real sucker for advertising and pretty packaging. So when I opened up the Sunday paper this week and the Target ad showcased a full page of luscious house cleaning products, it was all I could do to avoid running full-throttle to my local store for a hefty supply of dust-busting miracle solutions sure to restore my home to a deep clean. Never mind that I have a closet full of them already...
The problem with these miracle cleaning products is that no matter what they have in them, they still require a person on the other end to actually apply the product and wipe it off. In other words, a bottle of mop and glo won't actually apply the mop to the floor for me. That still requires me. Darn. And regardless of the hype on the bottle, I've come to realize after almost 2 decades of living on my own that pretty much nothing works any better than 1)vinegar 2)baking soda 3)lemon juice and 4)olive oil. I mean, it's hard to imagine, but there really was life before Chlorox disposable wipes in the round tub.
So I stared at the ads in the paper and drooled over the bottle of "natural cleaner" (vinegar based, by the way) and noted it's price tag...$5. FIVE DOLLARS!!!! I can get a whole GALLON of white vinegar for half that price. What's the difference? A little added water, a bit of fragrance (that's where the lemon juice comes in), and some pretty packaging. Good grief. So...to achieve the clean of my dreams, according to my local Sunday ads, I need to shell out: $5 for the pretty bottle of natural cleaner, $5 for a tub of Chlorox wipes, $4 for some Scrubbing Bubbles shower cleaner, $4 for a bottle of Windex, $5 for some stainless steel cleaner for my fridge, $7 for some pledge furniture wipes, $8 for hardwood floor cleaner,...the list is, literally, endless. But I will stop here because, guess what??? The total for the products I "need" to clean my home thus far comes to $38. The cost of FEEDING A CHILD for a month.
Guess what works just as well as the fancy cleaners? That's right. Vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and olive oil. They last for months, and are safe for your family and the environment, and they don't take up nearly as much space in your cabinet.
And guess what you can do with all that money you save every month? That's right! You can feed a child, clothe a child, share the blessed love of Jesus Christ with a child. Last time I checked, Jesus wasn't running his finger across the top of my china cabinet to see how dusty it is...but he was checking to see if dust is accumulating on my spirit, or if I'm renewing my heart and soul by helping those he has called us to help. So this spring...toss the ads, grab the vinegar, and renew your spirit by helping one of the little ones Jesus loves!