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Green Up Your Clean: Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Methods

January 16th, 2009

green-clean-living.jpgThis article by Beth Coughlin provides some tips for how you can “green up your clean” by using products that serve as environmentally friendly alternatives to harsh or dangerous chemicals. Fortunately, most of these products are common household items that many of us have on hand already. They are also inexpensive enough to allow us the possibility of saving some money on our cleaning budget if we can make effective use of them.


Green cleaning is becoming a more common goal in housekeeping every day. There is a growing lineup of commercially produced green cleaning products. Seventh Generation, Clorox, and a host of other companies are offering green cleaning alternatives. However, there are some common household items that can give you a jump start on green cleaning and are easy on the wallet.

Vinegar and baking soda are long-standing allies in the fight for greening your cleaning. These two inexpensive and widely available products are some of the most useful tools in the fight against household dirt. Baking soda, known also as sodium bicarbonate, is an all-purpose, non-toxic cleaner. This common household standby cleans, deodorizes, removes stains, and acts as a fabric softener. White vinegar is a mild solution of acetic acid that cuts grease, removes stains, and is an excellent water softener. Proper use of these also lessens impact on the environment by reducing packaging and waste when bought in an appropriate format for their many uses.

With a supporting cast of characters such as lemon juice, cornstarch, and some other common, low impact products, these two can provide the backbone to replace most commercial cleaners. Here are some great time-tested recipes found in many households across the country:

General Multi-Purpose Cleaner:

In a bucket mix one gallon of warm water, ¼ cup of baking soda, and one cup of white vinegar. If you do not need it all at once, it can be stored in any tightly capped container.

Glass Cleaner:

¼ cup of white vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 quart warm water

Mix in a spray bottle and use while still warm. For best results and lint free glass, use crumpled newspaper in place of paper towels. This reuse of the newspaper does not preclude recycling it in most areas and also lowers the overall carbon footprint and environmental discharge as it reduces the demand for bleached paper towels.

Toilet Bowl Cleaning:

Baking soda and vinegar can also stand in place of more caustic toilet bowl cleaners. All you have to do is sprinkle the baking soda in the bowl, squirt in some full strength white vinegar, and scrub with a toilet brush. This combination will both clean and deodorize. As you move into kitchen needs, you can reduce your oven cleaning needs proactively by wiping the inside of your oven down with white vinegar before cooking that family meal. The thin coating of vinegar applied to the surface reduces grease buildup and helps prevent burn-on of any splatter, making for an easy wipe down after cooking.

Microwave Cleaning:

You can use a vinegar steaming to loosen the inevitable buildup of food in your microwave. Just heat one cup of vinegar for a minute or two depending on the strength of your microwave. This will loosen the food particles and make the rest an easier clean with a mild solution of soapy water.

Paint Brush Cleaning:

Vinegar is not just useful for kitchen and bath, but can also solve some of the garage-related cleaning conundrums. Did you or some unnamed family member leave oil-based paint to dry into a rock-hard substance on your paint brushes? You can soften hardened paint brushes in hot vinegar, then use soap and water to get them clean again. This is easier on both the environment and the pocket than having to throw them away.



One Response to “Green Up Your Clean: Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Methods”

  1. comment number 1 by: Chris Tucker

    Hydrogen Peroxide is a great cleaning chemical.
    It breaks down into harmless Oxygen and Water.
    It can be used to remove mildew from most surfaces, and is commonly used instead of Bleach in other Countries.
    Hydrogen Peroxide also cleans blood stains on a Mattress very well.
    Cleaning with it is a good thing to do.
    Most Hydrogen Peroxide is bought at a Drug Store, and is a little weak for fast cleaning.
    Cleaning solutions of Hydrogen Peroxide that clean faster may be had from cleaning chemical supply stores.

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