It’s Spring… and time to “green clean”!

Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. Everything feels new and there is something very refreshing about sitting back and seeing things literally spring to life.  One thing that does need our assistance, however, is our home. Unfortunately there is NOTHING refreshing about a house that has been closed for months on end.

The problem is, while we attempt to do our spring cleaning, we can be tempted to grab the commercial cleaners and create a lot of waste too.  Here are some tips on avoiding the pitfalls:

  • Open windowslet the fresh air come in. It does wonders!
  • Buy distilled white vinegar – and lots of it.  The uses are amazing… everything from cleaning and sanitizing to disinfecting and stain removal.  Check out vinegartips.com for ideas, but whatever you do, do NOT use commercial household cleaners… they are harsh, harmful and unnecessary.
  • Buy hydrogen peroxide – you may not have considered this as an option before, but it’s a great alternative to bleach.
  • Buy baking soda – fantastic for cleaning but also for removing odors from rugs and carpets.  Sprinkle some on, let it sit for 30 minutes and vacuum it up… nice and simple.
  • Make your own multipurpose cleanerI have a recipe and I use my own cleaner daily.
  • Make your own furniture polish – I have another recipe for you!
  • Make your own soft scrub – I have yet another recipe!
  • Skip paper towels and sponges – gather old t-shirts and towels (not suitable for donation) and put them to work.  Skoy cloths are another favorite of mine, and they can all be washed and used again for later cleaning projects.
  • Recycle – magazines, mail, catalogs, any needless papers, packaging….the list goes on and on.  And don’t just put them in the garbage can.  Put them in the recycling can. All of these papers are recyclable!
  • Food cupboards – you thought you’d need it, use it, want it, but alas you did not.  Donate it to a food pantry if it hasn’t expired; otherwise make sure the packaging, cans and containers get recycled as well.
  • Donation boxes – inevitably you will find lots of things that no longer have usefulness for you but that doesn’t mean they’re not useful for someone else.  Clothing, shoes, household items, books, furniture, toys, anything and everything. Pack up these items and donate them to a charity, list them on Freecycle or Craig’s List.  But never throw away anything that still has “life” left in it.
  • Proper disposalmotor oil, paint cans, aerosols… check Earth911 to find out where these toxic products can be dropped off for proper disposal.  Same goes for electronics.  If they can’t be given away, check local resources (Best Buy has a fabulous program) or again Earth911.
  • Consider air freshening in a less harmful way – if you MUST put the scent of spring in the air, forgo the aerosol air fresheners and instead fill a spray bottle with a combination of water and essential oils, and “spray away!”
  • Buy a plant – some household plants will actually help to purify the air in your home!
  • Consider some “Spring Resolutions”no more antibacterial soaps (their harmful effects can be greater than their benefit), no more harsh cleaners and chemicals.  Vow to replace them with eco- and health-friendly products.  Put CFLs on your shopping list and use them for every bulb that needs replacing from here on out!  And when you buy these products, make sure they get placed in reusable bags!

Start stretching, limber up and let the “green cleaning” commence!

 

Houseplants to purify your indoor air!

areca plm pltIndoor plants are a fantastic way to bring the outdoors inside, no matter what time of year it is (and, with temperatures starting to drop, windows and doors will likely be spending more time closed!).  Not only can plants breathe life into a room, but did you know they can also, literally, breathe fresh clean air into your home as well?!?

Sadly, our indoor air can become even more polluted than outdoor air(!) due in part to everything from VOCs in paint to all of the horrible things we track in on our shoes and then send airborne!

Just take a look at what some of the most common household plants can “do” for your home!:

  • Areca palm – this one is the top purifier and also humidifies the air as it cleans!  (Lady palm and bamboo palm also do an amazing job!)peace lly plt
  • Peace lilies – also a great all-around air purifier, and incredibly easy to maintain.
  • English ivy – fantastic for removing airborne mold (up to 60% of airborne mold in just six hours, by the way!).
  • Spider plants – great at removing 100% of the carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide from the air in only 24 hours.
  • Boston ferns – another great over-all air purifier but especially for removing formaldehyde from the air.
  • Rubber plants – great for cleaning out those VOCs.

To reach maximum effectiveness, it’s recommended to have at least one 6” plant per 100 feet of living space.

Amazing, isn’t it? Actually, it’s exactly what I would expect Mother Nature to provide… something to clean-up our dirty work (and dirty air!).

Got (more) rust? Think vinegar and lemon!

200369716-001Not long ago I shared my little trick for removing rust from metal (our daughter’s Razor scooter had taken the brunt of the cold and dampness in the garage over the winter)…

Now, more annoying rust came-a-callin’… on a piece of brand new clothing! (This is the part where I clenched my teeth and let a few “choice” words fly!)

Well, never fear.  When rust spots seem to pop up out of nowhere, you don’t need to add it to the batch of clothes that have been designated for ‘cleaning duty days’ and ‘yard work sessions’.  You can salvage it with a few simple items:  distilled white vinegar & salt or just a simple lemon.

Here’s how:vinegar

  • Saturate the rust stain with distilled white vinegar and pour on a generous amount of saltRub the salt into the stain…. OR….
  • Squeeze the juice from a lemon onto the stain (bottled juice works too).
  • For both options, the best ‘next step’ is to actually put the garment in the sun (Mother Nature will do her magic) until the garment has dried. If Mother Nature isn’t cooperating, no problem… just let it dry on its own.

lemonzYou might want to repeat the process for super stains but then just launder the garment as usual and VOILA!…

Guess what?… no more rust stains! And guess what else?  No chemicals needed! Fantastic…

One fab (chemical-free) soft scrub recipe!

sft scrubWho doesn’t love a fabulous recipe?!?! This one isn’t even in jeopardy of getting rudely rejected by your family, because it’s not meant to please an appetite… it’s all about chemical-free cleaning.

I’ve shared recipes for a multi-purpose cleaner and a furniture polish so, now… how about when you need a little extra scrubbing action?  Would you be surprised to learn that the main ingredient is amazing baking soda?  Of course you aren’t… so let’s just get to the recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • ½ cup liquid castile soap
  • 5-10 drops essential oil
  • ¼ cup water

Just like with the other cleaners, the essential oil is… well… ESSENTIAL! My recommendations are always lemongrass or tea tree oil. Lemongrass is a natural anti-bacterial (yes, natural… not harsh like commercial anti-bacterials) and the tea tree oil has bking sda box2properties that are both anti-viral and anti-fungal.

DIRECTIONS? Well, those are easy.  Just mix them all together and use it anywhere you’d use a soft scrub cleaner.  Leftovers can be stored in a glass jar you’ve salvaged.  (I’ve also heard that you can add a few tablespoons of vegetable glycerin to act as a preservative.)

As always, you have a new recipe to try for chemical-free cleaning but… you know what that means… yep, it’s time to clean! (BLEH!)

Spring is in the air… all the ways to “green clean”!”

sprng clnSpring is one of my favorite times of the year. Everything feels new and there is something very refreshing about sitting back and seeing things literally spring to life.  One thing that does need our assistance, however, is our home. Unfortunately there is NOTHING refreshing about a house that has been closed for months on end.

The problem is that, while we attempt to do our spring cleaning, we can be tempted to grab the commercial cleaners and create a lot of waste too.  Here are some tips on avoiding the pitfalls:

  • Open windowslet the fresh air come in. It does wonders!
  • Buy distilled white vinegar – and lots of it.  The uses are amazing… everything from cleaning and sanitizing to disinfecting and stain removal.  Check out vinegartips.com for ideas, but whatever you do, do NOT use commercial household cleaners… they are harsh, harmful and unnecessary.
  • Buy hydrogen peroxide – you may not have considered this as an option before, but it’s a great alternative to bleach.
  • Buy baking soda – fantastic for cleaning but also for removing odors from rugs and carpets.  Sprinkle some on, let it sit for 30 minutes and vacuum it up… nice and simple.spry bttl
  • Make your own multipurpose cleanerI have a recipe and I use my own cleaner daily.
  • Make your own furniture polish – I have another recipe for you!
  • Skip paper towels and sponges – gather old t-shirts and towels (not suitable for donation) and put them to work.  Skoy cloths are another favorite of mine, and they can all be washed and used again for later cleaning projects.
  • Recycle – magazines, mail, catalogs, any needless papers, packaging….the list goes on and on.  And don’t just put them in the garbage can.  Put them in the recycling can. All of these papers are recyclable!
  • Food cupboards – you thought you’d need it, use it, want it, but alas you did not.  Donate it to a food pantry if it hasn’t expired; otherwise make sure the packaging, cans and containers get recycled as well.
  • Donation boxes – inevitably you will find lots of things that no longer have usefulness for you but that doesn’t mean they’re not useful for someone else.  Clothing, shoes, household items, books, furniture, toys, anything and everything. Pack up these items and donate them to a charity, list them on Freecycle or Craig’s List.  But never throw away anything that still has “life” left in it.sprng cln rag
  • Proper disposalmotor oil, paint cans, aerosols… check Earth911 to find out where these toxic products can be dropped off for proper disposal.  Same goes for electronics.  If they can’t be given away, check local resources (Best Buy has a fabulous program) or again Earth911.
  • Consider air freshening in a less harmful way – if you MUST put the scent of spring in the air, forgo the aerosol air fresheners and instead fill a spray bottle with a combination of water and essential oils, and “spray away!”
  • Buy a plant – some household plants will actually help to purify the air in your home!
  • Consider some “Spring Resolutions”no more antibacterial soaps (their harmful effects can be greater than their benefit), no more harsh cleaners and chemicals.  Vow to replace them with eco- and health-friendly products.  Put CFLs on your shopping list and use them for every bulb that needs replacing from here on out!  And when you buy these products, make sure they get placed in reusable bags!

Start stretching, limber up and let the “green cleaning” commence!