No question, many conventional household cleaning products available on the market today are very effective cleaning agents. Yet, what concerns most of us is that most of them are petroleum-based — a controversial fact that has been widely debated vis a vis health and environmental effects. It really doesn’t help that some of these products have labels that shout “caution,” “danger,” “warning,” or what can really rattle our nerves, “poison!”
There are certainly many ways to have a clean house without the aid of these potentially harmful products. One sure way is to buy green cleaning products. There are many brands on the market today that are made from renewable resources (i.e., sans petroleum), and are non-toxic and biodegradable. Companies such as Seventh Generation, Greenworks, Method and Biokleen market full lines of green household cleaners, and these products are widely available. However, it is just as easy and effective to make your own cleaning agents at home, using totally natural ingredients found in your pantry. Here are just a few ideas:
- Baking soda: An all-purpose house cleaner
By itself or mixed with a little water, baking soda can be used to clean almost anything.
- Sprinkle it on the carpet to absorb odors, then vacuum. Your kids and pets can then safely rollick around on the carpets without being exposed to any chemical residue.
- Scatter some baking soda on a wet sponge or cloth and use it as a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser for kitchen countertops, ovens, fiberglass, and sinks. For tougher stains, add some coarse salt and liquid dish soap to baking soda. Let this paste sit for a bit, then scour it off.
- Baking soda on a damp sponge will clean your microwave and not leave a harsh chemical smell or residue like conventional cleaners would.
- Instead of using a harsh silver cleaner to polish your flatware, make a paste with 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water, and rub it onto the silver with a cloth or sponge.
- To eliminate that slightly bitter taste from your morning coffee, add ¼ cup baking soda to 1 quart of warm water, and wash your coffee maker.
- Cleaning the oven is a tough job, but don’t risk inhaling all those toxic fumes from a commercial oven cleaner. Just sprinkle baking soda onto the bottom of the oven, dampen with water, and let it sit overnight. Scrub and remove the grime in the morning.
- No-wax and tile floors can be cleaned using ½ cup baking soda dissolved in a bucket of warm water.
- Skip the costly furniture polish spray for cleaning your furniture – a bit of baking soda on a damp sponge will do the trick.
Washing soda is a stronger, more caustic compound than baking soda, so you should wear gloves when using it. It can be used the same way as baking soda, but do not use it on fiberglass, aluminum or waxed floors. Washing soda is more effective than baking soda for cutting grease, waxy, or oily stains.
These acidic liquids are great for getting rid of gummy buildup, removing tarnish, and blasting dirt from wood surfaces.
You can make your own authentic “lemon-smelling” furniture polish. Just mix equal parts of lemon juice and olive and oil, pour a small amount it on a clean cloth and rub into furniture.
Vinegar is an all-around a good cleaning agent – the acid acts as an odor neutralizer and a disinfectant. And it is powerful. You can even use it instead of bleach to clean tile grouting. Just let it soak on the grout then scrub with a toothbrush. You can also mix 1/4 cup vinegar with 1 quart of water in a spray bottle and use it as a glass cleaner. A gallon of hot water with 4 cups of white distilled vinegar will clean your floors quite effectively (the vinegar smell will disappear once you damp mop the floor.)
This versatile fruit is not just for breakfast! It’s also an effective cleaning agent that will leave your rooms spotless and sweet-smelling. Half of a large grapefruit will clean your bath or shower from top to bottom, including fixtures. For tougher stains, sprinkle each half with salt, scrub, and rinse.
With a little time spent on measuring and mixing, you can insure that your house is spic and span without the use of potentially harmful chemicals. However, for people who don’t have the luxury of time, there are many green cleaning services out there that use only eco-friendly products. Check around for rates that will fit your budget, and products and methods you are comfortable with.