How to Clean Green at Home
Bless this home!
Non toxic bathroom!
Cleaning cheaper and greener is easier than you think.
Do you dread those Saturday chores around the house because of the chemical stench left by common household cleaning products? Do you find yourself leaving the room you're cleaning because the fumes are too overpowering? House cleaning doesn't have to be chemical warfare. Many simpler, less chemical-laden methods exist for cleaning that you can create quickly out of common products you have in your own home already.
Vinegar and Baking Soda, your best friends!
Your mother may have told you that vinegar is the best thing for cleaning windows. She was right! You don't have to buy fancy colored window cleaning sprays to wipe down your windows and mirrors. A simple mix of white vinegar with a little water will work as well or better. Just fill a spray bottle (perhaps your last empty bottle of window cleaner!) with 2 parts water, 1 part vinegar and you have a simple but effective light window cleaner. If you are cleaning something dirtier than your bathroom mirror, try adding a few drops of dish soap to really remove buildup. You can even add a drop of your favorite essential oil to make it smell nice.
Another option for cleaning windows or mirrors is rubbing alcohol, especially for those stubborn, stuck on stains (month-old bits of toothpaste flecks, anyone?). Take a soft rag and dab on a glug or two of rubbing alcohol (70% or greater) and then rub gently into the spots. This will leave a clean window and mirror and no chemical residue since the alcohol evaporates immediately!
Gotta scrub that tub? Try good old fashioned baking soda. Sprinkle baking soda over the tub and then use a scrub brush with a little water to scrub away grime and stains. You can even spray a little of that window cleaner mix to increase your cleaning power.
Remember those vinegar volcanoes you made in science class as a kid? Another use for vinegar and baking soda is blasting away clogs in your drains. If your drain is slow, try putting a couple handfuls of baking soda down the drain (you may have use your fingers to push it down in there) and then boil a pot of half water, half vinegar. Pour the boiling vinegar water down the drain and let the bubbles do the work. You should be able to loosen some of the gunk in the pipe this way. If this doesn't work, try it a second time with larger quantities of all ingredients.
When it comes to dusting, most of us are accustomed to reaching for the bottle of Pledge or Endust and wiping everything down with an old rag or paper towel. However, there is a great alternative that doesn't take any extra sprays or solutions at all...MICROFIBER!
If you haven't tried microfiber cloths, I highly recommend them! These fine-fibered cloths look like an ordinary terry cloth towel, but they can trap tons of dust and dirt without any liquid at all and rarely leave any kind of lint behind. Try them on your desk area, furniture, door jambs, etc. and see just how effective they are! For dirtier jobs, you can spray just pure water on the towel or the surface to be cleaned and then run the microfiber towel over it and you will be amazed at the dirt you remove.
Floor cleaning and Laundry alternatives
Tile or linoleum floors can be cleaned with a mop solution made from vinegar and soap. Add a cup of vinegar and a few drops of Castille based soap to a bucket of warm water. Feel free to even add some essential oils to give it that "clean" after-smell. Mix and mop as usual and you will find your floors are just as clean and way more non-toxic than if you used a commercial product. For wooden floors that need to be mopped, I like to use black tea. Take a bucket filled halfway with water and add 2 cups of strongly brewed black tea. Dump in a couple "glugs" of white vinegar and just a few drops of olive oil or wood oil soap (such as Murphy's) and then mop all wooden floors being careful to wring out the mop very well before each application. This should help enhance your wooden floor's finish and clean it gently without stripping it of its natural elements.
Don't believe for a minute that Tide from the store is your only option when it comes to washing your clothes. You can actually make your own powdered laundry detergent quite easily! To create your own more environmentally friendly (and wallet friendly!) laundry detergent mix, you only need 3 simple ingredients:
1 cup of Borax
1 cup of washing soda
1 bar of Fels Naptha laundry soap
All of these ingredients can be found in the laundry aisle of your local grocery store and cost a fraction of what regular liquid laundry detergent does. Start by grating the Fels Naptha bar with a cheese grater, then combine with a cup each of the washing soda and Borax. If you would like a smoother blend, you may dump this mixture in a food processor and pulse until the soap flakes are fine. To use, simply store in a seal-able container and add 1-3 tablespoons to each load of laundry. This mixture is great for those with fragrance allergies since it contains no artificial ingredients and is unscented. However, if you prefer a scented laundry soap, simply add a few drops of your favorite essential oils when blending.
These are just a few of the many homemade products and methods you can employ to clean your home free of dangerous chemicals. And remember that whatever goes down the drain goes into streams, rivers and groundwater too, so making products at home that are free of environmental toxins such as pthalates and phosphates will mean a cleaner world for everyone. Using simple home recipes for cleaning is not only better for your health and that of your children and pets, but cheaper too! Imagine the uses and relative cost for something like a box of baking soda compared to conventional cleaning products you buy at the store; cleaning on a budget usually winds up the most cost effective and environmentally friendly way all around. Save your wallet and your health by taking the time to be a little creative with your cleaning!