Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Green cleaning staples

Lemon makes things smell amazing and also disinfects.

It’s been a battle and a half to get my roommates on board with my cleaning products. Mostly, that’s because they’re not really cleaning products. They’re normal household items.

The staples to green cleaning can be broken down into two main categories: cleaning implements and cleaning solutions. What you’re putting the cleaner on is just as important as what you’re using as a cleaner. Granted, cleaning implements will usually last longer than the cleaner itself, but they still can take a toll on the environment.

So here you have it: a list of the things that help me love the earth and keep my house clean all at the same time.

Cleaning implements

This homemade, reusable cloth helps reduce my household waste.
Re-usable cloths
One of the worst things you can do for the environment is use disposable materials, and that includes those little sponges you get from the store to wash your shower and dishes with. Cloths are super easy to knit, for instance, and can be washed over and over. If you’re not much of a knitter, just hang onto the next t-shirt that gets a rip in it and divide it up into cloths.

Re-purposed bottles
I use old water bottles with sport caps, or pancake syrup flip-tops to squirt stuff into the toilet bowl. I’ve been re-using the same hand soap pump for over 2 years now. (If you’re industrious enough, you can even fill it with homemade soap. My recipe came from David Suzuki’s Queen of Green.) If you have old spray bottles, don’t throw them away; they’re your next window-cleaner holders!

These little buggers are some of the best scrubbers you’ll ever have. They get into small spaces, are just abrasive enough for most jobs, and can be used after their useful tooth-brushing life is over. It’s a win-win situation!

You know how you use a cloth to clean your mirrors and you get all the fuzz? Yeah, newspaper doesn’t do that. Seriously, try it! (And if you’re using vinegar, you can even dry the paper and compost it afterwards!)

Netted bags
You know those plastic netted bags that the grocery gives you produce in? I stopped buying packaged produce eventually, because I didn’t want to toss the bags, and then I started using the netted bags I already had to make scrubbies. Just stuff a cloth inside and knot either side so you have a little bundle. If you have one of the particularly scratch ones, it does nearly as well as steel wool! They’re not quite as durable, though, so expect to replace them a bit more often.

Cleaning solutions

I have found nothing more useful for cleaning than vinegar. Use it by itself for an awesome glass cleaner. Use it as a baking soda chaser to unclog your drain. Spray your shower with it. Run it through your coffee machine. What can’t vinegar clean, exactly?

No, really. Anything that needs that scrubby quality benefits from a bit of salt. It’ll scrub stuff off an oven door or help you get the grime off the tiles. Just be sure to try it on discreet areas first, so that you don’t use salt on surfaces that can’t take so much scrubbing!

Baking soda
I know it’s old news to use baking soda in your fridge, but how about making baking soda paste to clean your toilet? Works like a charm. This is the second half to vinegar’s drain-declogging skills (just sprinkle baking soda in the drain and chase it down with vinegar). And if you’re really hardcore, you might even brush your teeth with it for extra fresh breath!

Castile soap
While a lot of soaps have chemicals in them that are bad for you and the environment, this soap is totally vegetable-based, natural and gentle. The liquid variety is great as a dish-washing soap, a hand soap or for diluting to use as a spray cleaner. Solid castile soap is great as a laundry bar to get stains out, or for leaving on the side of the sink for a hand-washing bar.

Surely you’ve noticed that everyone puts lemons in their cleaners. There’s a reason for that. Not only does it make everything smell super clean, it also works as a degreaser. If you’re using a liquid castile soap for washing your dishes, mix some lemon juice into the dishwater to help cut the grease on your pots and pans! Oh yeah, and it disinfects, also!


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