Green Spring Cleaning

As seen in The Laurel Magazine, May 2011 Edition.

Green Spring CleaningWhen the bathroom starts to look grubby and you pull out all the conventional brushes, sponges, sprays and bleach and start scrubbing, you expose yourself to hundreds of chemicals that have known, and possibly unknown, toxic effects. 

Most of the conventional cleaning products we all grew up with are petroleum-based and have dubious health and environmental implications.  Instead of opting for cleaning products that annihilate everything in their path, there are plenty of natural products and methods that keep a house clean and fresh smelling without the toxic side effects. 

If designer labels aren’t for you, home-mixed cleaners can get the job done and then some.  Vinegar and baking soda can be used to clean almost anything.  Mix in a little warm water with either of these and you’ve got yourself an all-purpose cleaner. 

It is not uncommon for the air inside a home or office to be more toxic than the air outside.  This is because of the presence of toxic materials and substances and the fact that homes and buildings are better insulated than ever before (which is a good thing from an energy standpoint).  Keeping windows open as often as possible allows fresh air in and keep toxins flowing out.  This is especially important when cleaning your home. 

Help your home smell baking soda-delicious.  Baking soda not only removes those strange smells coming from your fridge, it’s also a great odor-eliminator for your carpet.  Just sprinkle on a little baking soda to soak up some of those odors and then vacuum it up. 

Skip the store-bought air fresheners and instead try boiling cinnamon, cloves, or any other herbs you have a fondness for.  Also, plants may not make your house smell different but are good for filtering interior air — pretty much any broad green leaf plant will do.  Lavender or eucalyptus is my favorite. 

Imagine what’s on your shoes at the end of the day.  Bringing that oil, antifreeze, animal waste, particulate pollution, pollen, and who knows what else into the house is not good news, especially for kids and other critters that spend time on floor level.  Keep the sidewalk out of your home with a good doormat or a shoeless house policy.  Many green buildings now include entryway track-off systems as a means of maintaining a healthy interior environment.  Less dirt also means less sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming, which means less work, water, energy, and fewer chemicals. 

These ingredients serve as the building blocks for safe home cleaning:

  • Baking Soda – Cleans and deodorizes.  Softens water to increase the sudsing and cleaning power of soap.  Good scouring powder. 
  • Borax – Cleans and deodorizes.  Excellent disinfectant.  Softens water. Available in the laundry section of grocery stores. 
  • Liquid Soap – Look for soap with non-synthetic, plant-based ingredients such as olive oil-based.  Biodegrades safely and completely and is non-toxic.  Available in grocery stores and health food stores. 
  • Washing Soda – Cuts grease and removes stains.  Disinfects. Softens water.  Available in the laundry section of grocery stores. 
  • White Vinegar or Lemon Juice – Cuts grease and freshens. 
  • Vegetable Oil – Works well when polishing and cleaning wood. 

Happy cleaning!

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