Go Green part II, Cleaning Green

Cleaning Green is an incredibly easy thing to do.  It requires very little effort or a change in habits.  What it requires is finding a safe way to dispose of some of the nastier chemical cleaning agents. It is vitally important that you never pour these chemicals down the drain or simply throw them in the garbage.  Consult your local waste disposal ordinances and read the labels for possible safe disposal methods.  In all honesty, the safest way to dispose of your current cleaning products is to use them up and then switch to green.

  • I spoke last week about reducing your household’s waste production by shifting to the use of cloth towels and rags instead of paper towels.  If you want a great source of cleaning rags try some old t-shirts and socks.  If you can’t bring them to a consignment shop for resale or aren’t able to donate them to Salvation Army or some other charity, use your old clothing as dust rags or scrub rags.  The best part is that instead of disposing of used up paper towels, you can just throw them in the laundry and reuse them next time.
  • Ever tried cleaning with baking soda?  You should.  Nothing scrubs out a refrigerator quite like it.  Mix equal parts baking soda and water and scrub away.  It also does a great job on the kitchen sink and with the added benefit of deodorizing.  Come to think of it baking soda cleans just about anything for which you might want a commercial scrubbing agent like Comet or Soft Scrub.
  • Forget Draino or Liquid Plumr or whatever you’ve been using.  Mix 1/2 cup  of baking soda and 1/2 cup of vinegar and pour it down a clogged drain.  Wait about ten minutes and then flush with boiling water.
  • I personally avoid using bleach at all costs.  Lemon juice works great on stains.  Try club soda with some lemon juice if you’re worried about bleaching spots.
  • While on the topic of lemon juice, try adding some to a sink of soapy water.  It cuts grease like a charm.  You can also use lemon slices if you wish.
  • Olive oil makes a fantastic wood cleaner.  Three parts olive oil to one part vinegar and your wood will never have been so clean.  The added bonus of cleaning with oil is that it is also a natural moisturizer for your wood to prevent cracking from temperature fluctuations.
  • Baby oil is a great chrome polisher.  Put some on a soft clean cloth and go to town…. although personally I’ll do whatever possible to avoid polishing anything.  😉
  • Ode to the power of vinegar.  I wash down the foam play room pads in my daughters room once a week with vinegar.  It is a natural disinfectant.
  • Use vinegar to clean your toilets.  Stubborn stains? (ick!) mix vinegar and baking soda.
  • Rubbing alcohol will remove any soapy buildup from your windows and mirrors.  Once you’ve removed the residue mix 2 tbs of vinegar in a quart of water and go to town.  My grandmother always swore by the power of newspaper to make sure the windows dried streak free. It works and it is a useful way to reuse weekly papers.

Vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice aren’t the only way to go.  If you prefer commercial cleaners there are some Green ones out there on the market.  Look for anything that is hydrogen peroxide based.  Companies like 7th Generation, BioKleen, Ecover and Meyer make some good products.  I’m partial to Ecover for dish washing detergent and BioKleen for washing floors.  In general, however, making your own cleaning agents is cheaper and reduces the amount of waste your household produces by not needing the extra packaging.

I’d like to close out this post with a link to an incredible website that was emailed to me by my mother (aka Nonna).  It gives a list of at least 50 uses for vinegar around the house.  Personally I’m most looking forward to trying out the vinegar, soap and water bug repellant.  Have I ever mentioned how much Miami sucks in the summer?


Next installation of Go Green will include ways to conserve water as well as Greener baby tips.
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~ by CableGirl on Tuesday, April 8, 2008.

14 Responses to “Go Green part II, Cleaning Green”

  1. So glad you’re reminding people of these natural concoctions. When I was a child, it’s what we used. Effective, green, and CHEAP!

  2. Good to keep in mind. We’ll have to stock up on vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda. I assume they make it here, though I’ve yet to see it. Then again, when you’re living in a house that’s 2/3 under construction, sometimes you end up neglecting a lot of cleaning all together. Sigh.

  3. I hate the smell of vinegar, but buy it by the gallon for the stain fighting power in clothes washing (also takes the odors from kids’ nasty messy clothes- we have a bedwetter & it works awesome.)

    Never tried baby oil!

  4. Great tips. Thanks, CableGirl!

  5. These all work great, I can testify. Hydrogen peroxide is excellent on bloodstains as well.

  6. I’m going to try the drain declogger!!

  7. these are GREAT tips. esp. about the grease. Awesome! 🙂

  8. Do you ever watch “How Clean Is Your House”? They always use natural products (if you can call vinegar and lemon juice “products”) to clean these shockingly filthy houses. Great green cleaning tips!

  9. I have a tip, a tip a tip! At first, the vinegar may not be able to remove the cleaning residue left by the harsher products – so the first few times, add a bit of the older harsh cleaner to the vinegar solution, and gradually it will remove itself and you’ll see the true power of the green stuff!! 🙂

  10. Cut up lemons in a bowl of water in the microwave is a good deodorizer too. Got to love lemons!

  11. I started cleaning green in my house a coupla months ago. However, there are some things that I just can’t clean using baking soda and vinegar. My tub, for example, seems to be very porous and the damn thing just sucks up dirt and grime like crazy. Only Comet will work, but I’m open to suggestions.

  12. If you cut the t-shirts etc., with pinking shears rather than regular scissors, they won’t fray as much.

  13. Oh my God, CableGirl, I am bookmarking this page right now and will be referring to it all the time. Amazing tips.

    I took all of the twin’s old receiving blankets, cut them into fours and that’s what I use to dust and clean. Even those little useless infant bath towels are good for cleaning.

    I never knew about the vinegar and baking soda for a clogged drain! Brilliant.

  14. So with you here. My first job was working for a firemen that ran a window cleaning business in his spare time. He needed part time summer help and a teenager at $20 a day fit the bill. His company was named “Just Water” and thats all we used to clean windows…ever. It worked perfectly too. We had linens we reused and it was probably the most profitable window cleaning company ever created. Very cool post!

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