Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Green Cleaning

Green Cleaning… Not Just For Spring

Natural Cleansers vs. The harmful norm

Why should you use green, eco-friendly cleaning products over the refreshing, aromatic, effective, traditional, yet terrible, toxic, harmful, polluting products that you’ve been using forever? That question almost answers itself.

Cleaning your home thoroughly can be a difficult job in itself, but understanding how dangerous many cleaning products are, for the environment as well as our physical well-being, is the first step in moving toward cleaning your home more safely. Your challenge should be to try “green cleaning” to see if helping to save the planet by cleaning your home with green products could fit into your lifestyle.

Most of the conventional cleaning products we grew up using are petroleum-based and have serious health and environmental implications. But there are ways to reorganize and revitalize your home without opting to use harmful cleaning products. There are now many natural products that can keep your house clean without the toxic side effects.

Try cleaning with non-toxic household products such as baking soda, vinegar, castile soaps, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, olive-oil, vodka, and club soda. These products make for great cleansing alternatives and also are less harmful to the environment. Products like these actually save money given the high costs of the more harmful products and disinfectants that we normally use.

Natural Cleaning Products

Vinegar: it naturally cleans like an all-purpose cleaner and also works well as a deodorizer and disinfectant. It is safe to use on most surfaces and has the added bonus of being inexpensive. Improperly diluted vinegar is acidic and can eat away at tile grout. Never use vinegar on marble surfaces. You shouldn’t worry about your home smelling like vinegar because the smell disappears when it dries.

Lemon Juice: is another natural substance that can be used to dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits. Lemon juice combined with salt is a great substitute to clean and shine brass and copper. It also can be mixed with vinegar and/or baking soda to make cleaning pastes.

Baking Soda: can be used to scrub surfaces in much the same way as commercial abrasive cleaners. Baking soda is a great deodorizer when placed inside the refrigerator and freezer to absorb odors. Put it anywhere you need deodorizing action.

Hydrogen Peroxide: this disinfectant can also be used as an effective bleach alternative in the laundry room. Because it’s also a powerful oxidizing agent, it works especially well on food, soil, plants, blood and other organic stains. Just make sure to spot test in a discreet area because, like bleach, hydrogen peroxide may lighten fabrics.

Salt: perfect for cleaning grungy ovens, this natural abrasive is also great for soaking up fresh carpet stains such as red wine, coffee or ink.

Eco-Friendlier Alternatives & Tips

Avoid poor indoor air quality

It’s not uncommon for the air inside your home to be more toxic than the outdoors. This is caused by toxic materials and substances, especially certain plastics, fabrics and cleaning products that emit invisible gases. Keeping windows open as often as possible allows fresh air in cleanses the air of harmful gases.

Leave the toxins at the door

Imagine the variety of substances that accumulate on your shoes by the end of the day. Bringing that oil, antifreeze, animal waste, particulate pollution, pollen, and who knows what else into your house is not good news, especially for kids and other critters that spend time on the floor. Keeping the sidewalk out of your home with a good doormat or a shoeless house policy is a great way to track less dirt which means less sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming, which also means less work, water, energy, and fewer chemicals in your home.

Use non-toxic detergent and fabric softener

Traditonal fabric softeners can be very irritable to some of us with sensitive skin. Most of your commercial softeners contain chemicals such as benzylacetate, benzyalcohol, camphor, chloroform, limonene, linalool, pentane, and ethlacetate, all of which have harmful effects - from skin irritation to pancreatic cancer! Try using non-toxic dryer sheets. They are much cheaper given their value and can be reused and last for over 500 washes. Also try using handmade washing detergents by mixing 1 cup Ivory soap(or Fels Naptha soap), 1/2 cup of washing soda and 1/2 cup borax. Use 1 tbsp for light loads and 2 tbsp for heavy loads. You will save a bundle in detergent costs, have clean, refreshing clothes, and stay eco-friendly.

Clean and refresh your indoor air naturally

Avoid store-bought air fresheners and replace them by boiling natural items like cinnamon, potpourri, and herbs, etc. These are great ways to create aromas without affecting the environment. You can also take fabric softener dry sheets with a rubber band, and attach them to your ceiling fans resulting in having odors sucked right out of the air!

Other Reading and References

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