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!

 

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!)

Simple tip: The greenest way to wash your car

car wsh kdzLike many parts of the country, my “neck of the woods” has been serving up some pretty rainy weather.  Doing much outside has been an anomaly, unless you’re a duck or enjoy ankle-deep mud. (Me?  Not a duck.  Don’t like mud.)

Add to that the street construction around my neighbor and, as a result, my car is filthy… constantly.  My kids happen to love helping to wash the car but not when it’s 45 degrees and raining.  Despite it all, I still need to get the road gunk off the car!

Have you ever wondered about the greenest way to wash your car? Well, much to my kids’ dismay, a commercial car wash is actually the greenest choice.

Commercial car washes use about 60% less water than do-it-yourself methods.  (And for my family, when you car wshadd all of the additional time spraying each other with the hose… well, that percentage is probably higher!) They’re also required to treat and filter the water before they release it into the environment… another big bonus.  And, if you wash at home (and don’t use eco-friendly cleaners) it just ends up going directly into the environment.

Next time your car is in need of a good washin’, don’t sweat it.  Drive through a commercial car wash and recognize that you’re NOT being lazy… you’re getting your car squeaky clean and keeping it squeaky “green”!

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!

Peroxide vs. bleach: the greener alternative

I pX bleacharted ways with bleach long ago. Even the smell makes me uncomfortable. In fact, chlorine bleach is a caustic chemical and a registered pesticide.  Hydrogen peroxide is formed and dissipated naturally in the environment when it simply breaks down into oxygen and water (… you see where I’m going with this, don’tcha???).

Hydrogen peroxide can act as a substitute for bleach in virtually every way.  Where you used bleach, use peroxide instead… and even far beyond.

It should always be diluted down to a 3% solution but (fortunately!) this is how it is commonly sold in your local drugstore or market, so you don’t need to worry about mixing your own concoction!

Some of the best uses for hydrogen peroxide?… just take a look:

  • Disinfectant – for cleaning toilet bowls, floors, showers, tubs, tile… your bathroom is its disinfecting playground!
  • Dishwasher – add a few drops to your dishwasher detergent for extra sterilization
  • Food cleaner & natural preservative – add a few teaspoons to a large bowl of cold water. Wash and rinse your vegetables and fruits thoroughly to clean them and prolong their freshnessperox
  • Laundry – simply use in place of the bleach or use as a stain remover (but be sure to blot & rinse immediately to avoid any potential discoloration)
  • Oral hygiene – use it to clean your toothbrush, or a teeth whitener (when combined with baking soda, in small quantities, to make a paste!)
  • Sanitizer – put in a sprayer bottle to sterilize and disinfect counter tops, cutting boards, stove tops, sinks, the refrigerator and even coffee pots, blenders and food processors
  • Toy cleaner – combine one part peroxide to ten parts water and soak water-tolerable toys, then thoroughly rinse and dry. (This is especially helpful after a bout of illness in the house!)
  • Window cleaner – add a half cup to four cups of water and create a streak-free window cleaner

The toy cleaner appeals to me, especially.  I recall when our daughter was in daycare (for a brief, fleeting moment, until I decided being a stay-at-home mommy “was for me”…) and I was horrified that they cleaned the toys with bleach!  AUGH! My baby was probably putting those toys in her mouth the very next day!

Say good-bye bleach, hello peroxide. Nothing lost, but “a whole lot of peace-of-mind” gained!