Spring Cleaning - What's the Greener Solution?
What's feasible for busy people who want their home to be clean AND green? Do you have time to make your own cleaning products? What are the best of the "green" brands? As we get ready for spring (and spring cleaning!) Share your green cleaning strategies here, and find great cleaning ideas from our Green Team!It’s official! Spring has sprung!! As of March 20th, the time has come to open up the blinds, air out the linens and whistle while you work! Just like Mary Poppins! Which brings us to our topic for today:
If a person wants to Spring Clean “Green,” is it better to buy environmentally friendly cleaning products or make your own?
According to www.naturalproductsmarket.com, the average American uses approximately 40 pounds of toxic household cleaning products every year. You’d think things would smell better, wouldn’t you? These products contain loads of super fun ingredients like: neurotoxins, carcinogens, allergens, central nervous system depressants, heavy metals and other garbage linked to cancer, respiratory problems, reproductive abnormalities, allergic reactions and behavioral problems. Yikes! And all these pretty things end up in the air, the water and ultimately our bodies. So let’s take a look at some alternatives that are good for you, the environment and your wallet.
Homemade Cleaning Products
You can pretty much make any cleaning product you might need from these three ingredients: lemons, baking soda and vinegar.
Lemons are acidic and therefore contain anti-septic and anti-bacterial properties, plus they cut grease, dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits and can be mixed with baking soda and vinegar to make a nifty cleaning paste. Lemon juice is also very effective for removing stains from counter-tops and for cleaning copper and brass, especially if you add a little salt to the mix.
Vinegar is another extremely effective cleaning agent and disinfectant and can be used as an all-purpose cleaner by combining one part vinegar and one part water in a spray bottle. If you don’t like the smell, you can mellow it by adding lemon juice.
Then there’s baking soda, which appears to be the Universal Cleanser. You can use it in your dishwasher, on your counter tops, on bathroom tile, even in the toilet. You can use it to freshen and unclog drains, as a furniture polish, to clean pots and pans and microwaves and as a deodorizer for the fridge, the garbage, shoes, laundry, the list goes on. And of course, you can brush you teeth with it and make a cake!
A great resource for homemade cleaning recipes can be found compliments of Sarah Aguire at housekeeping.about.com. Here’s a few to get you started.
All Purpose Cleaner
Make a solution of 1/4 cup of baking soda, 1/2 cup of vinegar, and 1 gallon of hot water to clean grease and grime as well as eliminate odor.
Unclogging and Freshening Drains
Pour 1 cup of baking soda down the drain followed by 1 cup of hot vinegar. Try heating the vinegar in the microwave before adding it to the drain. Wait 5 minutes before flushing the drain with 2 quarts of hot water. You can repeat this process a few times if it is necessary. If this is the first time you have cleaned your drain in a long time it may be necessary to repeat the baking soda flush a couple of times.
Try pouring 1 Cup of baking soda and 1/2 Cup of salt down the drain. Let this mixture sit in the drain for several hours, overnight is best, before flushing the drain with 2 cups of boiling water.
Clean the microwave
Mix a few tablespoons of baking soda with water in a microwave safe cup. Boil in the microwave for a few minutes. The insides of the microwave will be damp and easy to clean with a paper towel or dishcloth. This has the added benefit of removing odors that may be clinging to your microwave oven.
Non-toxic Ready-Made Cleansers
With the boom of environmental awareness (and babies), consumers are demanding products that safe to be around, effective at getting the job done and friendly to the environment. Needles to say, the number of non-toxic, environmentally friendly products now available has multiplied in leaps and bounds. Some of the best and most readily available are:
- Seventh Generation
- Green Mountain
- Mrs. Meyers
Most recently, former not-so-green Clorox and the Sierra Club have partnered to create a new product line called Green Works, which makes a whole line of non-toxic cleaners made from plant based ingredients.
So what’s greener? Making your own, of course - less impact from shipping and production and fewer plastic bottles. But we understand that people are busy so do what works for you. Buying ready made, eco-smart products are certainly greener than buying toxic, chemicals any day.