Really now, what’s all the fuss about green cleaning? Perhaps, you want to avoid disturbing memories of the pizza-encrusted couch cushions that haunt you from your college days. But is it possible that we go too far? Can your house be too clean? Maybe.
Here are some things to consider next time you’re ready to scrub the counters with anti-bacterial magic.
Can Your House Be Too Clean?
Back in the day, homes were cleaned with the basics:
- You used a broom to sweep, took the rugs outside and beat the dust out of them with a rug-beater,
- Maybe used some vinegar and water on the windows and floors, soap and water for everything else, along with the occasional bleach for difficult-to-clean areas.
Baking soda and vinegars were popular cleaning agents all the way through the time the Greatest Generation were raising their families.
It wasn’t until more recently that companies got on the bandwagon advertising for specific types of soap, scrubs, and cleaning fluids. Now we have a myriad of anti-bacterial soaps and sanitizers available to us.
However, it’s important to remember that bacteria isn’t necessarily all that is terrible and evil in the world. In fact, bacteria can sometimes be beneficial. It helps us build immunities.
Experts have found that children who are exposed to a little dirt, dust or pet allergens are less likely to develop allergies, eczema and asthma as they grow older.
So, we should sit on the couch eating junk food and leaving the crumbs for the dog to pick up? No. But studies show that sometimes ultra-clean is too clean.
So rather than reaching for anti-bacterial soap for every cleaning need, consider using regular soap. Rather than using a harsh chemical to clean something, consider a more natural solution.
Our Toxic Lifestyle
As technology and chemistry fuse together cleaning solutions for today’s modern world, many people are concerned that this preponderance of chemicals can be too harsh.
Keep in mind that many chemicals we use in our cleaners are toxic. The most toxic are commonly used to clean drains and toilet bowls. Not only are the harsh fumes bad for humans, but they also go down the drain and impact the environment.
Consider reading the labels. Although many products won’t list their ingredients, look for warnings such as “WARNING” or “DANGER” or “POISON.” These will indicate the product may be harmful to you, your family and/or the environment.
To avoid the harsh chemicals, many people are turning toward more natural cleaning solutions. Those with ingredients that are easy to pronounce are popular, and others are back to cleaning the way Grandma did – with baking soda, vinegar, and of course, soap and water.
Definitely we need to keep our homes clean, and definitely we need to wash our hands. But as Grandma used to lecture, “everything in moderation.” Consider using natural products and avoid going overboard in your quest for a clean floor or countertop.
Green Cleaning Defined
Green cleaning refers to using cleaning methods and products with environmentally friendly ingredients and procedures which are designed to preserve human health and environmental quality.
These cleaning techniques and products avoid the use of products that contain toxic chemicals, some of which emit volatile organic compounds causing respiratory, dermatological, and other conditions.
Green cleaning can also describe the way residential and industrial cleaning products are manufactured, packaged and distributed. If the manufacturing process is environmentally friendly and the products are biodegradable, then the term “green” or “eco-friendly” may apply. (Source: Wikipedia)
Non-Toxic Ways to Clean
For some homes, green cleaning means that they only use substances like baking soda, vinegar, and lemons to clean the home surfaces.
Spring is a time when we clean our homes in depth. We get a great feeling when the clutter and cobwebs are gone. However, many cleaning products are full of chemicals which are often both unnecessary and toxic.
If you are looking for a healthy way to get your home in good shape without using chemical-laden cleaning products, here are five products you can use.
Common Vinegar Uses
Vinegar is by far one of the most popular non-toxic cleaners. It is known to cut grease and dirt, and is good as a disinfectant. Ask anyone who avoids chemicals what their stand-bys are, and they will certainly mention vinegar.
Vinegar is a mild acid, which makes it a great multi-purpose cleaner for around the house. As a household cleaner, vinegar can be used to do anything from removing stains, to unclogging drains, to disinfecting, to deodorizing, and it can even be used to remove stickers.
Particularly, you can also use this mixture to clean windows, soap scum, mildew, tubs, and ceramic tiles. Add a drop or two of any essential oil of your choice to aid in the effectiveness of the cleaner.
Use vinegar on a clean rag to make mirrors squeaky clean, and to give a nice shine to sinks and toilet bowls. For floors that shine, mix vinegar with water and a few drops of soap, and wipe with a rag. Do not, however, use vinegar on natural marble floors or counters.
Lemon Juice Hacks
Like vinegar, lemon juice works because of its acidity. Clean your cutting boards by slicing a lemon in half and rubbing it into the board, as this removes both stains and germs. If your glass shower doors appear scum-laden, wipe a lemon over them to remove the build-up.
When was the last time you washed your microwave? This is a spring cleaning essential. Put a few tablespoons of lemon juice into a glass of water, and microwave to the boiling point. Keep the door closed for another 10 minutes and wipe clean with a cloth once it is opened. You will find that the food particles wipe away easily.
Baking Soda Magic
Baking soda is another cleaning substance which has no limits. It kills viruses, and has deodorizing and grease-cutting capabilities. It acts a cleaning agent because it is a mild alkali and can cause dirt and grease to dissolve easily in water for effective removal
If you want to get rid of bathtub scum, sprinkle baking soda on a damp cloth, wipe it over the grayish scum, and wipe it away easily.
Equal parts vinegar and baking soda can be combined to scrub away tough stains from coffee mugs, travel mugs, or teacups.
Everyday Uses for Tea Tree Oil
There are many essential oils that are great to put into your box of cleaning supplies. One of the most popular essential oils used for cleaning is tea tree oil.
Tea tree oil is distilled from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia plant, found in Australia. This oil is antiviral, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal. It is extremely strong when undiluted.
For anything that need disinfecting and cleaning anywhere in the house, a few sprays of tea tree oil will get the job done. Add 10 drops of tea tree oil to 250 mls of white vinegar and 250 mls water in a spray bottle. Spray on any surface such as kitchen countertops or floor, and then wipe up. Voila!
Nonetheless, going green with tea tree oil is not as cheap as using bleach or ammonia. However, a small amount of tea tree oil will go very far in effectively getting rid of black mold. Tea tree oil is a natural fungicide that is effective at killing black mold spores and getting rid of mildew throughout the home.
Olive Oil Advantages
Olive oil is a great cleaner, and perfect for polishing as well. It lifts dirt, so it is perfect to use as wood cleaner. It will also give it a nice shine while you clean.
You should certainly try using olive oil for cleaning stainless steel. Apply a few drops of olive oil on a soft microfiber cloth. Wipe your fridge, oven or dishwasher — any place with stainless steel! It will mask scratches and erase pesky water marks and repel smudges.
If you want it to have an extra pleasant scent, simply add a few drops of orange or lemon oil, and some vinegar if you like. Put this all in a spray bottle, or else dip a rag into the solution before wiping the wooden table or floors.
Tip: Never leave stainless steel to soak in solutions that contain chlorine, vinegar, or table salt, as long-term exposure to these can damage it.
Make Your Own Cleaning Products
It’s true, you can go to the store and buy products off the shelf for any cleaning need you might have. But you can also make similar products, ones that you know the ingredients of, for very little money and just a little bit of effort.
Here’s What You Need
When making homemade cleaning products you really only need a few ingredients. For mild cleaning, mix 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 4 to 8 cups hot water in a spray bottle. For a stronger solution, use 2 tablespoons borax, 1/4 cup vinegar, and 2 cups hot water. Add a few drops of essential oil to any mixture to give it a fresh scent.
In fact, you can make a variety of cleaners all from one bottle of vinegar and one or two of the above ingredients, which may also include ingredients such as borax and hydrogen peroxide.
- Do you need a multi-purpose cleaner? Instead of buying 409®, why not mix up a bottle of homemade multi-purpose cleaner? In a spray bottle clearly marked, mix together equal parts water and white vinegar. This spray is effective, and costs much less than 409®.
- You can also make an air freshener that will actually absorb odors rather than covering them up. In a bottle that will create a fine mist, combine two cups of hot water, one teaspoon of baking soda, and one teaspoon of vinegar. Shake the bottle to help the baking soda dissolve. If you don’t like the smell of vinegar, add a drop or two of any citrus essential oil. (Be sure to clearly mark your bottle.)
- For an effective disinfectant, mix together two teaspoons of borax, four tablespoons of vinegar, and three cups of hot water. While borax is NOT non-toxic, it is environmentally safe. Please be careful to label anything containing borax, and be careful how you store it.
- Everyone knows that hydrogen peroxide will clean out a wound, and that’s probably the only way most people will use it. Did you know, however, that it’s great for removing fresh blood on clothing? The same foaming action that draws the dirt out of a scrape will remove blood from shirts or slacks.
Other Uses of Hydrogen Peroxide
You can also add hydrogen peroxide right into your washing machine when washing a load of whites. Pour a cup of hydrogen peroxide into the washing machine as it fills with water. Just make sure you don’t pour it directly onto your clothing because peroxide will act the same way as bleach.
Kitchen counters and wooden cutting boards, if not cleaned properly, could be a breeding ground of salmonella or other bacteria. Rinse your counter or cutting board down with hydrogen peroxide after they are washed to kill all traces of the bacteria. Rubbing a little lemon juice on it can help too.
Alright, do you know what is the best homemade tile grout cleaner? Yep, hydrogen peroxide.
Just pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into a bottle, then mix in 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide. Apply the paste to your dingy grout lines, let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub it with a cleaning toothbrush.
The baking soda will help remove tough stains and hard water buildup, while the hydrogen peroxide will clean and brighten, cutting through residue on the grout to remove discolorations.
After you’ve scrubbed the stains away, use a wet rag to wipe away the paste.
Spring cleaning is a perfect time to make your home feel like new. But you don’t have to spend a fortune, or fill your home with dangerous, harmful and toxic chemicals, to get your home clean.
Well-known items, usually found in the home, are all you need. By combining a few simple ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, borax, or hydrogen peroxide, you can keep your home clean and healthy.
I encourage you to take an inventory of the current cleaning products that you’re using. Implementing Green Cleaning effectively:
- Reduces pollution in your water
- Maintains better air quality
- Reduces exposure to allergy-causing substances
- Reduces exposure to pollutants that have been found to cause cancer, neurological disorders, learning disabilities, infertility, hormonal imbalances and more
In summary, simply use some of these tried and tested natural cleaning supplies and your home will be feeling fresh in no time.