Cleaning House and Product Alternatives
Whoever said dirt was just misplaced matter must not have cleaned it up on a daily basis. Cleaning house requires you to arm yourself with bottles of cleaning solution and various gadgets to help you remove every last speck of dirt. But don't think you have to sacrifice a clean house to be more environmentally friendly. Clean and green aren't mutually exclusive.
When you're shopping for environmentally friendly cleaning products, look for a green label and choose natural products that list all their ingredients. Green cleaning products should not contain ingredients such as chlorine, petroleum-based solvents, nonylphenol surfactants, glycol ethers, or dyes. They should be biodegradable and nontoxic. Truly green cleaners are not tested on animals either.
It just takes a little time and effort to find the best cleaning solutions that work for everyone and the environment.
When evaluating cleaners, choose one that is safe for everyone in the family, is safe for the environment, conserves natural resources, and — more important — ultimately gets the job done.
When picking out cleansers for the home, try to avoid unnecessary dyes and fragrances and stay away from extra packaging. Be careful with concentrates. Using a cleanser that comes in concentrated form does save on packaging by allowing consumers to mix it up and dilute it at home, but take care to avoid exposing people and the environment to the highly concentrated ingredients.
Simple Can Be Better
People cleaned their houses long before all the fancy products hit the market and the commercials hit the airways. They used common ingredients, and — with a little know-how and mixing — managed to get rid of dirt and dust.
Baking soda is a wonderful thing. It's sodium bicarbonate, a naturally occurring compound. It's nontoxic. It deodorizes. It's a gentle abrasive — perfect for chrome or enamel. You can mix a quarter cup of baking soda with one quart of warm water to make a cleaning solution. Or you can just shake it directly on what you're cleaning.
A lot of times these cleaning ingredients are less expensive than the new and improved products, often because their prices don't include advertising costs or fancy, colorful bottles.
Here's a list of other more natural and less toxic cleaning ingredients and their uses:
Mix half a cup of vinegar with a gallon of water to clean floors. (Be careful your floor won't be affected by the pH shift. Some materials like marble and non-wax floors are vulnerable to color change and etchings. Your manufacturer will be able to tell you if vinegar is safe for your floor.)
Two parts borax mixed with one part lemon juice can be used to clean the toilet. This is especially effective for removing stains. Spray with vinegar to make sure your cleaning solution will remove microbes.
A mixture of equal amounts of lemon juice and olive oil is great for polishing unvarnished furniture. For varnished furniture, use half a cup of warm water and a few drops of lemon juice.
Use a quarter cup of rubbing alcohol mixed with half a cup of vinegar and two cups of water to clean windows. Use newspaper to wipe windows instead of paper towels.
Sprinkle baking soda on your stainless steel, iron, or copper pots and scrub to clean. Don't use baking powder on aluminum pots.