Natural cleaners and green cleaning products are a smart way to clean the safe, non-toxic way. Whether you choose to purchase eco-friendly, green cleaning products from the store or make homemade cleaning solutions, there are many options for you to help in getting your home clean the green way! Using natural cleaners and green cleaning products is not only safer for you because the products you’re using are non-toxic, but it’s safer for the environment. Let’s all do our part! Got a green cleaning tip to share? Let us know!
1. Cleaning Basics
Just about every natural cleaning product uses the same cleaners your grandma used. These options are less toxic and lot friendlier to your pocketbook than purchasing eco-friendly, green cleaning products from the store. Keep in mind that not all of these items are safe for children and animals to be exposed to. Take the proper precautions when using these products to protect those you love! A good natural cleaning kit should include:
- Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) — gritty scrubber, also reacts with acids like lemon and vinegar
- Borax — disinfects, whitens and deodorizes
- White vinegar — disinfects and loosens dirt
- Lemon juice — disinfects, cuts through grease
- Olive oil — picks up dirt, polishes wood
- Castile soap — all-purpose foaming cleaner
- Washing soda (sodium carbonate) — a caustic cleaner, stain remover and laundry supplement
2. Eco-Friendly, Green Commercial Products
If the very thought of mixing and creating your own green cleaning solutions made you cringe, fear not for there are many green-friendly commercial products available at most local grocery stores! Don’t be ashamed, it can be quite time consuming to mix (and use) your own cleanser. I personally prefer to use the commercial products because they help make the entire process less time consuming for me. These products have other ingredients that help to achieve the perfect clean while still being eco-friendly without having to scrub as hard and as long as you will if you make homemade green cleaning products. My favorite green/eco-friendly all-purpose cleaners are those made by Method, Simple Green, Seventh Generation, GreenWorks, Mrs. Meyers, Ecover, Biokleen, Shakelee and others. You can always use the web and search for green friendly products that are available in stores near you.
3. Clogged Drain? Yeah, me too…
If you or someone you love has long hair, the likelihood that you’ve encountered a clogged drain is very high. I know I’ve encountered many a clogged drain on the job and at home due to hair, food and other items that cause buildup in your drain. I always like to pour a pot of boiling water down the drain at least once a week to flush any oils from food or cooking. Doing so also helps to loosen any food, hair and other things that keep your drain clogged. If that doesn’t work, you’re going to need to unclog it yourself. When it’s time to unclog, first use a plunger — this often works better and faster than the most powerful chemicals. If that doesn’t work, try a combination of 1/2 cup of baking soda, followed by 1/2 cup of white vinegar — then cover the drain if you can, and let the foaming pressure do its stuff. Other recipes call for 1/2 cup of salt and an equal amount of baking soda, followed by 6 cups of boiling water — wait a few hours, then flush with cold water. As a last resort, get a plumber’s snake and “snake it out.” If you’re short on funds to hire a plumber or if you think the clog is shallow, there are some small do-it-yourself drain snake wires that you can buy from stores that sell as-seen-on-tv items. I’ve used one of those drain snakes that you see on infomercials many times to unclog hair from my bathroom drain. Doing so weekly would prevent a deeper buildup in your drains and save you money.
4. Can I use a Green Cleaner on Wood Surfaces? YES!
There are a lot of different recipes out there that call for some combination of olive oil and vinegar. (Yes, you’re cleaning with salad dressing — for a floor you could eat off). The ratio of vinegar, oil and water will vary depending on the the type of wood and the finish you have on top of it. For wood floors, try 1/4 cup of vinegar in 1 gallon of hot water. For wood furniture, start with 1 cup vinegar with 1 teaspoon oil. For both recipes, “adjust to taste.” If making a DIY wood cleaning mixture isn’t something you’re interested in, there are other green wood cleaning products that contain lemon and/or orange oil that you can use.
5. Dirty Windows and Glass?
Noting irritates me more than a filmy, finger print filled window. You can clean your windows by adding 1/4 cup of vinegar to 2 or 3 cups of water. Some recipes call for a few drops of liquid detergent, and still others suggest you use only lemon juice added to water. You can use a newspaper to wipe, if the newspaper inks don’t bother you, or use a clean old cotton rag. You can even use water with old newspaper and it works pretty well if you’re short on vinegar. I like using newspaper regardless of what product or solution I use to clean my windows because it really cleans the glass without streaks or lint (because of the carbon in the paper) AND you’re recycling at the same time!
6. How Do I Remove Stubborn Burnt Food From My Oven?
If you don’t have a self-cleaning oven — or even if you do — there aren’t many green cleaning options, and commercial oven cleaners tend to be caustic products with plenty of toxic compounds. If you’re looking to clean your ovens without the use of harsh chemicals, I’m afraid you will have to put some serious elbow grease into it!! Depending on how soiled you allow your oven to become before you decide to clean it, doing it the green way will be time consuming, hard work. I suggest making a solution with vinegar and some lemon juice with water and spray it on and let it sit overnight to loosen up the grime. There are some good orange oil cleaners you might want to look in to. Sadly, the stuck and burnt on grease is difficult to remove, even with chemicals. I will look into this further and post on it again in the future.
7. Fumes- No More!
Bathrooms are often humid, enclosed and have little to no ventilation. That’s what makes cleaning them with caustic, harsh chemicals so difficult– and so dangerous! That’s why using green cleaners in your bathrooms especially makes a lot of sense. Baking soda and vinegar makes a great toilet scrub. When I researched natural remedies to scrub your tub and tile in your shower, borax was at the top of the list. Why not give it a try?
8. Why You Can’t Judge a Room’s Cleanliness By the Smell
One of the most often misconceptions is that a house or bathroom that smells clean is clean. That’s not true. Fact is that most green cleaners– especially ones you make at home, won’t have a strong smell. That’s good for those with sensitive noses but probably something that gives pause to those who enjoy the sweet and strong smells of cleaning chemicals and those air fresheners. Hit the pause button the next time you go to buy an air freshener, room spray or similar product because those fumes that smell so sweet….aren’t good for you! Don’t kill yourself — or your kids — to get a sweet smelling house. The NRDC tested 14 different household air fresheners and found that 12 contained the hormone-disrupting chemicals known as phthalates. Keeping your house generally clean should eliminate any odors — or try natural odor-eaters like baking soda or vinegar. Best air freshener of all — crack a window!
I hope these tips and tricks help you to incorporate some green cleaning into your home! Remember, just because it smells good, doesn’t mean it’s cleaned properly. Using green, eco-friendly products are not only healthier for the environment, but they’re healthier for you and your family!