You recycle, compost and have given up plastic bags for good. You probably buy organic, choose local goods and maybe even have a hybrid car. But when it comes to cleaning products, what is an environmentally-friendly girl to do? Is there such thing as going green and still getting clean?
Why yes, there is! The answer is to make your own. Even the germophobes among us will be satisfied with the results of homemade "green" cleaning products.
Making your own cleaning supplies is one of the greenest ways to go because you don't have to worry about what's in the product or what happens when it goes down the drain. In addition to keeping chemicals out of the water, you are also skipping the whole manufacturing process, which might not be the greenest even if the product is claims to be.You probably won't mind the chunk of change you save making your own, either. Everything you need is probably already in your cupboards!
When life gives you lemons... start cleaning! At less than $1 a pound in most places, lemons are one of the cheapest cleaning products you can find, and you can be sure they are safe for you and the environment. Lemons are particularly good at removing stains, whether from your tupperware or your clothing.
Cut them in half and dip them in baking soda to safely and effectively clean stains from countertops, or just use the plain lemon to clean wooden and plastic cutting boards if they are stained. You can also add a ½ cup of lemon juice to your laundry's rise cycle to brighten whites, or rub a slice on acidic stains on your tupperware. Let it dry in the sun then wash as usual to get rid of stains like tomato sauce.
Canola oil and other vegetable-based oils are probably already lining your kitchen cupboards, but you can use them for cleaning as well as cooking.
You may be looking for soap that cuts grease and grime for most of your pots and pans, but rubbing your cast-iron pans with vegetable oil and coarse salt makes the perfect, (and perfectly natural) scrub for cooked-on food. Simply rinse with hot water.
Oils can also be used to get paint off your skin instead of toxic turpentine, and olive oil can add extra sparkle to stainless steel. You can also make your own biodegradable furniture polish by mixing two cups of olive or vegetable oil with the juice of one lemon.
This item might not offer that "fresh cotton" scent that commercial cleaners have, but at least you know vinegar doing its job and not hurting anyone. White distilled vinegar has immense power to dissolve soap scum and mineral deposits, disinfect surfaces and make glass and mirrors spotless and sparkling.
Disinfect a dishwasher by running an empty cycle with vinegar instead of dishwasher detergent, or pour it down your drains and follow with cold water after 30 minutes to clear out the pipes.
You can mix ¼ cup of vinegar to a bucket of warm water to clean almost any floor, other than marble or wood, and spray it on the walls and let sit to get rid of mold. When you add a cup of vinegar to your rinse water for washing dishes, your glasses will be extra sparkly.
It's pretty easy being green - and clean!