Saturday, April 19, 2008

Earth Day 2008: Tip 4

Today I'm going to talk about the power of baking soda, vinegar and my favorite household product-- Borax as well as a few other ingredients that make excellent natural, safe for use in your home, cleaners. There are a million reasons to avoid traditional cleaners, all of which are well documented on the web, so I am going to focus on a few recipes for easy non-toxic cleaning. Before I get to that though, check out these statistics from

1. 17,000: the number of petrochemicals available for home use, only 30% of which have been tested for exposure to human health and the environment.

2. 63: the number of synthetic chemical products found in the average American home, translating to roughly 10 gallons of harmful chemicals.

3. 100: the number of times higher that indoor air pollution levels can be above outdoor air pollution levels, according to US EPA estimates.

4. 275: the number of active ingredients in antimicrobials that the EPA classifies as pesticides because they are designed to kill microbes.

5. 5 billion: the number of pounds of chemicals that the institutional cleaning industry uses each year.

6. 23: the average gallons in chemicals (87 liters) that a janitor uses each year, 25% of which are hazardous.

This is my green goal for 2008-- to reduce the chemicals used to clean in my home-- so I will * the ones I am going to be trying myself or have already begun or been using. There are a lot of tips out there, but here's my quick list. Of course, if you are REALLY serious, there are books available too.

Laundry Detergent and Fabric softener
Instead of fragrance softener, *buy unscented if you feel the need to use a store bought softner. *Alternatively, you can add 1/4 cup of baking soda to your washing machine (wash cycle).
A quarter cup of white vinegar is reported to also soften fabric and eliminate cling, but I am afraid of smelling like vinegar. Has anyone else tried it?
*Use powder instead of liquid. Why pay for "them" to ship you water?
* Got pit stains? 1/4 to 1/2 cup salt, enough water to cover the clothes in washing machine or bucket. Soak Clothes in salt water for an hour or two. Wash as usual. OR 1/4 cup vinegar, enough water to cover clothes in washing machine. Add vinegar and water to the washing machine. Agitate to blend. Add clothes, agitate, and let sit overnight. Wash as usual.

Anti-bacterial soaps
*I have switched to completely avoiding these soaps. They lead to drug resistant bacteria, and that freaks me out.
*Wash hands with regular soap and warm water.

Removing Stains and Bleach
*Do not use chlorine bleach. It is beyond bad for the environment. Use non-chlorine bleach if you must.
*Use a paste of baking soda and water to remove rings and some stains.

Cleaning countertops and other surfaces
Try using vinegar. It kills all kinds of stuff, including viruses.

*Fill your own spray bottle with water and either one-quarter cup white vinegar or one tablespoon lemon juice.

Smelly garbage disposal and drains
*Use a lemon or orange peel down the disposal once a week or as needed. You can save your peel, freeze it, and pull it out when needed.

* Coat the oven in a paste of water and baking soda. Let stand overnight, and then scrub off. Wear gloves.

Sprinkle with baking soda and vacuum it up. Odor eliminator galore! (If I had carpet I'd do this.)

*Try a plunger if you know your pipes are not corroded.
*Put one box of baking soda down the drain. Follow with two cups of apple cider vinegar. Flus with water.

A very extensive list of simple cleaners can be found here.

Small tangent-- Apparently my grandma reads this blog too. Hi Grandma! She sent me an email tonight that included the following message.
I get a kick out of how people talk about recycling and green, etc. That is how I learned to do things. I made the girls coats and boys suits out of old coats and on and on. There just wasn’t money. Then people started calling it being tight or stingy and now it is in again.
Touché Grandma. Touché. I hope it stays in-- for the environment and our pocket books! I'm green. I'm stingy. And I'm proud. :)

Happy Green Cleaning!


Jen said...

what a great series of Earth Day posts! I'm a big vinegar and baking soda fan myself. And yes, I do put vinegar in my laundry, and yes, I do think it helps soften quite a bit! We have skin allerges over here so have to use dye and fragrance free detergents. I started adding the vinegar when we got our new (greener!) frontload washing machine; I just put it in where the softener would go, and it works like a charm. And I don't think we smell like salad, either! :-)

Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting on my breastfeeding story. Isn't signing a fun part of nursing? Too cute.

Happy earth day to ya!

Maria said...

Thanks jen! I had a lot of fun doing them. I ran out of days though... I still have so much more to say, but i'm saving them now ... spreading out the green love! :)

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