Kermit the Frog got it right. With all the dangerous, corrosive and effective cleaning chemicals on the market, it really isn’t easy being green. But it doesn’t have to be impossible. With just a few modifications, you can create a safer environment for you and your family while saving money and protecting the environment. These eco-friendly cleaning products are safe, affordable alternatives to all the dangerous chemicals stored under your sink.
Remove toxic products. The first step to clean, green living is to get rid of all the toxic chemicals stored in your home. Check with your local recycling center for safe, environmentally friendly ways to do this.
Reuse when possible. Instead of using abrasive throwaway scouring pads full of harmful cleaning agents, look for things you can use more than once or twice. Mops, sponges, washcloths and paper towels made from recycled paper will get the job done without filling the landfill.
Look for natural alternatives. There are several great all-natural alternatives to harsh chemical cleaners. Here are a few of the most basic:
- Baking Soda. This simple substance has many uses around the home. Sprinkled on a damp cloth or sponge, it can be used as a gentle, non-abrasive cleaner for kitchen countertops, sinks, bathtubs, showers and ovens. Add a cup per load to your laundry to neutralize perspiration odors and chemical smells in your clothes. It also makes a great air freshener and carpet deodorizer.
- Washing Soda. Similar to baking soda, washing soda is much more acidic. Wear gloves when you use it, because it is caustic. Washing soda cuts grease, cleans petroleum oil, removes wax and lipstick and neutralizes odors just like baking soda. Just don’t use it on aluminum, fiberglass or waxed floors, unless you want to remove the wax.
- White Vinegar and Lemon Juice. White vinegar and lemon juice are acidic, and useful for combating scale from hard water, dissolving gummy buildup, eating away tarnish and removing dirt from wood surfaces.
Make your own disinfectant. Many essential oils, such as clove, lavender and tea tree oil—a natural fungicide—and grapefruit seed extract, are very good at killing household germs. To make your own disinfectant, add one teaspoon of essential oil to two cups of water in a spray bottle. You can make a spray from grapefruit seed extract by adding 20 drops of extract to a quart of water. Be sure to keep all homemade cleaning products clearly labeled and out of the reach of children.
Liquid Soap or Detergent? Soaps and detergents are necessary for cutting grease, but they are not the same thing. Soaps are made from fats and lye, while detergents are made from chemicals designed to not react with hard water and create soap scum. If you have hard water, buy perfume-free biodegradable detergent. If you have soft water, purchase liquid soap.
Green living doesn’t have to be a chore. By following these tips you can have a cleaner, healthier home in no time.
Photo credit: iStockphoto/diane555