How Green Is Your Clean?

May 4, 2009

Let's talk about personal hygiene a little here.  Are you cleaning your house at the expense of the environment?  You know you can actually introduce more toxins in while you're trying to rid your house of dirt and germs, but there doesn't have to be a trade off.   You can have a clean house and greenify at the same time.

These days, there are a myriad of products advertising their green cleaning abilities.  Many of these products are non-toxic, biodegradable, and made from renewable resources (not petroleum). But if designer labels aren’t for you, home-mixed cleaners can get the job done and then some.  In fact, distilled white vinegar or baking soda (not necessarily used together) can clean almost anything.  The stringent, grease-cutting of the vinegar or the neutral (but abrasive) power of the baking soda work to fight most household messes.  Mix a little warm water with either (or use that vinegar by itself for the toughest greasiest problems) and you'll have a good all-purpose cleaning agent.

These types of cleaners are especially important in cleaning your fridge.  You want to clean the plastic insulation seals on your refrigerator doors on a fairly regular basis in order to prolong their life and to make sure that they function optimally.  Cleaning them with vinegar insures that any oily food residue is thoroughly removed.  And using plain white vinegar insures that you're not introducing any toxins into the refrigerator where your food is being kept.  Wiping down the rest of the refrigerator's interior with a baking soda solution helps remove any stuck on bits of food and at the same time has a deodorizing effect on the fridge. 

Other non-toxic ingredients you can use to clean your home include glycerin, hydrogen peroxide, vegetable-oil-based soap sometimes referred to as castile soap (Castile soap is found in most health food stores. Dr. Bronner's is a popular brand.) and small amounts of Borax.  

There are a myriad of recipes and ways to use these ingredients found online.  The key thing needed is a commitment that you want to clean your home in a way that is safe for you and the environment. 


Greenify Your Cleaning

May 30, 2008

It is a little ironic that those cleaning products which are supposed to help us spruce up the office or home can actually be responsible for poor indoor air quality and even asthma attacks. Cleaning products are not required in the US to list all their ingredients, so one could be cleaning with a veritable chemical soup containing butyl cellosolve, ammonia, chlorine, sodium hydroxide (lye), alkylphenol ethoxylates, and more. Any of these can cause lung irritation and some will contaminate water supplies, deplete the ozone and cause endocrine disruption. Harsh repercussions when all you wanted was a clean floor or sparkling windows.

Consider Greenifying by stocking your office with eco-friendly cleaning products. Seventh Generation may be one of the best known brands on the market, but others exist such as Shaklees, Mrs Meyers Clean Brand, Method Home, Ecover, and Edible Nature. Trader Joe’s, Target and Whole Foods all carry in-house brand natural cleaners. If your office uses a cleaning service, ask them to use your products. They may balk at first, but perhaps you will convert them to a greener way of life when they discover the breathing is easier in your office.

If you clean your office yourself, you can create your own very environmentally friendly cleaning products using white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, borax and olive oil. A 1:1 mixture of water and vinegar (or even straight vinegar) in a spray bottle will kill bacteria, germs and mold. A cup of olive oil and a ½ cup of lemon juice makes a good furniture polish. Mix the two in a spray bottle, shake well and spray a little on a polishing cloth; polish evenly over the furniture, buffing to a light shine. Baking soda can be used in place of an abrasive cleaner. It will also remove odors. Sprinkle a little on the carpet before vacuuming in place of carpet freshener. To clean glass or mirrors, mix up 1 cup of isopropyl alcohol, 1 cup water and a tablespoon of vinegar. It evaporates quickly and will leave your glass streak free. Greenify to Clean!


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