Go Green Clean!
Natural Remedies to Clean your Home
There is no shortage of household cleaners out there boasting to make your life easier, more sanitized and fresher-smelling. Brilliantly executed advertisements depict animated germs carousing and multiplying within an unclean home, defeated only by a heavy dose of some chemical concoction. Feeling dirty, scared, and inferior, we plunk down billions of dollars each year on germ warfare for our own homes.
Do you ever peer at that collection of all those cleaners under the sink and wonder if they're all really necessary? And of course the even bigger question looms: are they safe?
Many say no. According to the EPA, everyday household cleaners present a real health risk, and it's no wonder given their ingredients, including formaldehyde, petroleum and sodium hypochlorite (bleach). These are just a handful of toxins hiding in common cleaning products; these chemicals have been associated with memory loss, asthma, and dizziness, to name just a few nasty side effects.
We aren't the only ones at risk; these substances are harmful to the earth. Once flushed down the drain (or tossed into a landfill) cleaning products live a second life as major pollutants of the water and air. (And we thought these cleaners were doing us a favor!)
Luckily, safer biodegradable products are popping up daily, giving us alternatives to toxic cleaners. While you may be hard pressed to find many of them in a major grocery chain, you can find natural alternatives in health food stores and online.
But the best news of all is that you can make your own effective cleaners from stuff you probably have around the house. White vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice can clean just about everything and are incredibly inexpensive. (If you don't like the smell of vinegar, take heart—the smell goes away once it's dried) Certain jobs may require the use of borax and hydrogen peroxide. Though these substances are natural, they are poisonous.
So next time its time to clean, try one of these natural solutions. Remember to test them first in an inconspicuous spot to make sure they won't stain the surface you're using them on.
Mix together equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle to clean surfaces. Wipe away with newspaper for streak-free shine.
Forget polishers! A dry cloth and baby oil will keep your faucet handles looking brand new.
Sprinkle baking soda onto the carpet. Let it sit for a half hour, then vacuum it up. Also, adding a little essential oil to the baking soda combined with equal parts cornstarch (how much cornstarch and soda you need depends on the area you are covering) will help.
Combine equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and wet the stained area. Then dab and scrub with a sponge until the stain lifts. Another tried-and-true method: spray shaving cream onto the stain, let it sit for a half hour, and then remove with a sponge.
Mix the juice from a half a lemon with one quarter cup vegetable or olive oil. Dab the mixture onto a cloth and rub directly onto the wood.
All purpose Cleaner
For a general all-purpose cleaner that you can keep on hand to clean the kitchen or bathroom, combine one half cup vinegar and one quarter cup baking soda in a spray bottle.
Pour one cup of vinegar in the bowl with one quarter cup baking soda and let it sit for a half hour. Then scrub the toilet clean with a brush.
Combine vinegar and lemon juice in a spray bottle with a pinch of salt. Let the mixture sit on the mildewed surface but don't wipe it clean.
Mix one cup hydrogen peroxide to three cups of water and apply to surface with a spray bottle.
Stinky Drain/Garbage Disposal
Drop half a lemon down the drain and run boiling water over it. Remove the lemon after a half hour. Another method: one half cup vinegar down the drain works, too. Flush with hot water. For more ideas, check out our article on solving smelly garbage disposal problems.
Natural remedies can have the same cleaning power as store-bought cleaners minus the toxicity. If it seems like too much work to mix your own cleaning solutions, let alone do the cleaning, try out some of the natural cleaners on the market. Seventh Generation, Gaiam and Ecover all make natural cleaners and personal care products that are affordable and eco-friendly.
Going green clean means a safer home overall by limiting your family's (and the earth's) exposure to dangerous chemicals. Plus, it's so easy you'll probably never look back.