I started using "green" products to clean my home several decades ago. My decision, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit, had more to do with saving money than saving the environment. We were going through a rough patch and I wanted to save money in any way I could. After researching cleaning productsâ€”which were taking a big bite out of our grocery budget, I stumbled upon some advice that advocated using all natural cleaners.
In fact, the book I read informed me that just three common household products, white vinegar, salt and baking soda would take care of 90% of my cleaning problems. Not only do vinegar, salt and baking soda (used alone or together) clean just about everything, they are cheap, contain no harsh or toxic chemicals and they make everything smell fresh and clean.
Once I started using common, natural products to clean my home, I no longer had problems with skin irritations. This was a bonus; I hadn't realized that harsh detergent residue on my clothes was such an irritant, or that the chemicals in commercial products was affecting my respiratory system. The biggest bonus, of course, was that I was no longer contributing to indoor air pollution and I was no longer using products that could harm the environment.
I keep a spray bottle filled with white vinegar and a spray bottle filled with half vinegar and half water on hand. Vinegar will not only clean and deodorize surfaces; it is the best cleaner for coffee makers, sink drains and garbage disposals, shower heads, steam irons, dishwashers and dozens of other household items. Did you know that 1 cup of white vinegar added to your laundry's rinse water will make your clothes soft and remove soap residue? Once dry, your clothes will smell freshâ€”with no trace of a vinegar odor. While I'm on the subject of laundry, vinegar and salt will also remove most stains, including perspiration and stubborn food stains.
Although I primarily use vinegar, salt and baking soda to keep my kitchen and bath sparkling clean, I also use combinations of these three to clean windows, carpet spills and to deodorize all the rooms in my house (simply fill a bowl with vinegar and let it sit in a room overnight, the vinegar absorbs odors, including smoke). When I do buy commercial cleaning products, I make sure they have "green" packaging; pump sprayers instead of aerosol cans, recyclable containers and, no additives or chemicals of any kind. I do occasionally purchase eco-products for the convenience, but for the most part, I use only common household products that are safe and non-toxic. Quite frankly, a little baking soda and vinegar made into a paste is the best countertop scrub I've ever used and no commercial product, even the eco-friendly brands, can clean my windows better than vinegar and water.
The best part about using these natural products is that they do so much more than clean the home. Because of the location of the organic store that I like to shop, I'm not always able to get there to buy organic fruits and vegetables. No problem! Its vinegar to the rescue again: I soak my fresh produce in cold water and vinegar to remove dirt and pesticides. But wait, vinegar can even do more! Spraying vinegar on my shower curtain prevents mildew, and a paste of vinegar and salt keeps my copper-bottomed pots and pans shiny. The common household products I now use are non-toxic, inexpensive and very effective! For the best way to use your household items for cleaning, you can always use Google to look up green cleaning recipes or check out this article to find out the best proportions to use.
Kate is a wife to a wonderful husband and mother of two lovely boys, in addition to working a full time job at a law firm in Washington DC. Thankfully, her fortunates have changed, however she still does do most of the household cleaning (don’t worry, her husband does his fair share of chores, including the cooking)… on the occasion that Kate doesn’t have time to clean, she recommends using a home cleaning service (Cathy’s Cleaning for those in MD).