Wednesday, September 1, 2010

make your home cleaner and greener!

I have been cleaning my home "green" for years.  Some years ago if you told someone you didn't use standard cleaners in your home because they contained chemicals you'd rather avoid your family being exposed to,  you most likely would have been given a weird look.  I know because it happened to me more than once!  Now (hurray!!) cleaning green is something that's pretty commonplace.  Yes, even big companies now are carrying a "greener" line of cleaning products.

So what can you do to have a clean and green home?  Here are some tips I have learned over the years:

First, remove your shoes.  Yes, that's right!  Wearing your shoes inside your home will make your home dirtier.  Dirt, mud, animal poop, etc will track through your home making it much harder to clean again.  Yes, it's there, even if you can't see it on your shoes, it's there.  Plus, you track in a lot of chemicals on your shoes. The first time I read that statement, some time ago, I had a real "wow" moment!  Why had I never thought of that before?  Just think about it.  You walk through a lot on your journeys outside your home.  Those chemicals and impurities then will get tracked into your home via your shoes.  Think of all that stuff getting rubbed off your shoes into your carpets!  No thanks!!

Unfortunately, even with shoe removal, my floors get really dirty.  I have lots of hard floors here.  I also know I don't want my children playing on floors that were mopped down with chemicals.  In the past I had used simple vinegar in a bucket of water to mop with.  Now, however, I have found that those steam mops are about the best invention in housecleaning history!  The steam really really cleans and no chemicals are needed what-so-ever!  Trust me, try one.

Next, lets talk toilets.   Why not use regular purchased  toilet bowl cleaners?  One big reason is many contain bleach and other very toxic harmful chemicals.  Not only is exposure dangerous to your family but think of what it does to your environment.  Do you have a septic tank?  Septics depend on a balance of bacteria to keep them working properly.  Pouring chemicals..especially bleach...into your septic system could be detrimental to its proper balance.  If you have ever priced having a new septic system put in, you will agree that taking care of the one you have is of utmost importance.  To avoid chemicals, try using baking soda and vinegar in your toilet.  All you have to do is sprinkle in baking soda and then pour in some vinegar.  It will foam and fizz..that's normal.  Let it sit while you clean the rest of your bathroom.  Go back and brush your toilet out and flush.  You will be impressed at its sparkling appearance!

So while we are in the bathroom what can you do about that tub?  This is another area that really bothered me and helped me convert to "green".  You clean your tub with harsh chemicals and even if you rinse it there is bound to be some residue left over.  Then you run a bathtub full of water and put your baby in it!  You are basically soaking your little angel in chemicals!  Ick. Want to know what works wonders on removing that ring around the tub?  It's baking soda, again!  Just wet the tub a bit and sprinkle baking soda on.  The best thing to scrub with, you ask?  Well, you know those little net puffs that they sell to lather up shower gel with?  Try one of those.  It works really hard at getting your tub spotless!

A big bathroom problem is mildew.  Do you have to resort to bleach for this problem?  Nope!  Prevent mold and mildew from becoming a problem in the bathroom; keep a spray bottle filled with 1 cup water and 1 drop tea tree oil handy for zapping stains.  Smells so much better than bleach, too!

How about that never ending stack of dirty laundry?  With 5 children my laundry pile multiplies rapidly.  Laundry detergent is full of chemicals.  There are additives that make your laundry fluffier, brighter, whiter, etc, etc, etc.  Does your laundry water drain into your septic?  Remember that septic tank discussion we had a few seconds ago....  Mine actually drains out into the field around our house.  So any chemicals that are in my washer, they rinse right out into the field surrounding my home.  We also have a well for our water in our house.  So, whenever I dump chemicals into my environment I am in danger of getting them returned via my well water!  Yes, the well is very far from my washer drain, very far.  But still, I don't want to chance any of those chemicals coming back into my drinking glass because they soaked into my soiled.  I make my own laundry detergent.  It does not take long at all and does a very nice job.  I am very qualified to make that statement, might I add, as a mom to 3 young boys!  Yes, they do know how to make very very dirty laundry.  Here are 2 recipes for laundry detergent that I use.  The first makes a liquid form, the following is for a powdered form.  It's just personal preference which you choose.  I use cloth diapers and they always come out clean and free of build up and smells with these recipes.

1 quart Water (boiling)
2 cups Bar soap (grated)
2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda
  • Add finely grated bar soap to the boiling water and stir until soap is melted. You can keep on low heat until soap is melted.
  • Pour the soap water into a large, clean pail and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir well until all is dissolved.
  • Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed.
  • Cover pail and use 1/4 cup for each load of laundry. Stir the soap each time you use it (will gel).
Powdered recipe

12 cups Borax
8 cups Baking Soda
8 cups Washing Soda
8 cups Bar soap (grated)
  • Mix all ingredients well and store in a sealed tub.
  • Use 1/8 cup of powder per full load.

Now, for my next tip, you can get rid of all that fabric softener.  Have you ever read what that stuff has been linked to?  You'd be surprised, I am sure.  Remember, whatever is on your clothing, rubbing against your skin, gets soaked up into your body.  So, in your washing machine that's happily running with your homemade laundry detergent, just add about a cup of plain white vinegar where your fabric softener would normally go or add it to the rinse cycle if you have no automatic dispenser.  This will work to release any suds and residue on your laundry and make it naturally softer.

My kitchen is the room I clean most often.  It gets used a lot!  One problem spot is the microwave.  I personally would prefer not to even have a microwave, but my husband uses and wants it.  Since he is the only one using it, it's easy to figure out who makes the massive mess in it.  I'd like to say he has never heard of covering anything to prevent splatters but I KNOW he has heard of it, after all I say it to him every other day or more!  Anyways, you probably know spaghetti sauce is not easy to remove once hardened on.  Neither is cheese, or anything else my husband heats in there.  This works fantastic, however.  Just place a bowl of water with 1/2 a lemon in the microwave.  Heat it to boil it.  Let it sit a few minutes then remove the bowl and wipe the surfaces clean.  It literally just wipes away, no effort needed.  The steam works amazing and the lemon gets rid of that mix of tomato sauce and cinnamon roll smell from the past few days usage someone may leave behind!  

We have several full length glass doors in our house.  I guess I must like to collect finger prints from small children and nose pirnts from animals.  I believe that's the main function of these doors.  By the way, I think animal snot may be one of the stickiest substances on earth!  Nose prints on glass left behind by pets is so hard to remove!  What do I do to avoid chemical cleaners?  3 Tablespoons of white vinegar mixed in a gallon of water.  Spray this mixture on and wipe.  Glass will sparkle!  Yes, you will still have to scrub at those nose prints....but I count that time as part of my effort twords meeting that daily exercise requirement!  Raise that hear trate while scrubbing!

Finally, Remember, when considering any cleaning task, check your local stores for "green" options first.  Like I mentioned earlier, green is in.  There are many options readily available right where you shop.  I recently browsed through Mrs Meyer's Clean Day products online and was totally impressed!  What a fantastic line up of scents!  I will definately be on the hunt to find these great products in a store near me!  You should look, too. 

Yes, green is in.  So, jump on the bandwagon!  Join me in being clean and green!!

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Mrs. Meyer’s blogging program, making me eligible to get a $30 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here

1 comment:

Junko said...

Thanks for the toilet cleaning tip! I've been spraying straight vinegar on the toilet but hasn't been impressed with the results. So baking soda is the key to success! I've been meaning to look up for a homemade laundry soap recipe, too. So thanks and I'll be making it soon.