Earth-Friendly House Cleaning Tips1
The chemicals found in conventional cleaning products are often more dangerous than the dirt they're intended to clean. And the way we clean (with lots of disposable paper towels) isn't exactly earth-friendly. Fortunately, there are many alternatives available that can help you make your home squeaky clean - and green.
Use Green Cleaning Products
The last thing you want to do is dump toxic chemicals into the environment in the name of cleaning. These days, you don't have to make a special trip to the natural foods store to seek out environmentally-sensitive cleaning products. There are many companies that make full lines of "green" household cleaners that can be found in many stores. These products work just as well as their conventional counterparts.
Do It Yourself (DIY) Green Cleaning Products - Basic Supplies
As an alternative, you can stock your natural cleaning kit with homemade cleaners, and making them yourself is very easy to do. The basic supplies you'll need to make your own green cleaners include:
- distilled white vinegar;
- baking soda;
- olive oil;
- borax (sold in a box in the laundry aisle);
- liquid castile soap (found in most natural foods stores);
- essential oils (found in natural foods stores, try the cosmetics section;
- microfiber cleaning cloths;
DIY Cleaning Products - Recipes and Techniques
- Mix 60 ml (1/4 cup) vinegar with 1 liter (1 quart) of water in a spray bottle.
- Spray on glass and wipe clean with old newspaper or a lint-free cloth.
Countertops and bathroom tile
- Mix 2 parts vinegar and 1 part baking soda with 4 parts water.
- Apply with a sponge, scour, and wipe away.
- Mix 1 liter (4 cups) of white distilled vinegar with about 4 liters (a gallon) of hot water.
- If desired, add a few drops of pure peppermint or lemon oil for a pleasant scent.
- After damp mopping the floors, the smell of vinegar will dissipate quickly, leaving behind only the scent of the oil.
- Mix equal parts of lemon juice and olive and oil.
- Apply a small amount to a cloth, and rub onto the furniture in long, even strokes.
Toilet bowl cleaner
- Sprinkle a toilet brush with baking soda and scrub away!
- Occasionally disinfect your toilet by scrubbing with borax instead.
- Wipe the outside of the toilet clean with straight vinegar.
- Mix 10 ml (2 teaspoons) borax, 60 ml (4 tablespoons) vinegar, 750 ml (3 cups) hot water, and 1 ml (1/4 teaspoon) liquid castile soap.
- Wipe on with a dampened cloth or use a spray bottle.
- Wipe clean.
Mold and mildew
- Wipe with straight vinegar.
- Sprinkle essential oil on a cotton ball, and stash it in a corner of the room.
- If you have young children, make sure it is out of their reach as essential oils are very strong and could irritate their skin.
- Lavender is a relaxing scent that is great for bedrooms, and cinnamon, clove, and citrus oils are great for the rest of the house.
- You can stash a few in the car too – try peppermint, which may help you to stay alert.
Other Environmental Cleaning Tips
Hang dry your laundry
Drying your clothes in an electric or gas dryer isn't just hard on your clothes; it's also hard on the environment. Don't stop with natural laundry detergent. Stay green every step of the way and install a clothesline in your backyard. If space (or aesthetics) is an issue, look for a "retractable clothesline" which takes up virtually no space when not in use. Weather permitting, line-dry your clothes outside to reduce pollution, cut your energy bill, get more exercise, enjoy the sunshine, and extend the life of your clothes. Plus, they'll smell like a clean breeze, not a fake "clean breeze scent;"
Swap out your Swiffer
Instead of continually buying expensive, single-use mop pads, invest in a reusable mop;
Ditch the paper towels
Save trees, cash and landfill waste. You can buy specially made, washable cleaning and dusting cloths (in all types of fabrics from cotton to microfiber). But better yet? Use what you already have and give an old piece of cloth (stained towels, ratty sheets and pillowcases, too-small T-shirts, etc.) a new life. Simply cut or tear your old item into smaller squares and voilà! Pop them in the washing machine with your laundry to clean, and use them again and again.
1 Extracted from "25 Green Spring Cleaning Tips" by Liza Barnes as found in the "SparkPeople" website at www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=1073