Spring Cleaning Meets Earth Day

The warmer weather for which we have been eagerly awaiting is here, which means that spring cleaning will be happening in many homes. After being cooped up in an increasingly stuffy house all winter long, it’s time to fling open the windows, shoo away the cobwebs, and take on the annual spring cleaning.  While this is a great and usually refreshing idea, April, and especially Earth Day on the 22nd, reminds us that the chemicals found in conventional cleaning products can be more dangerous than the dirt they’re intended to clean.  And the way we clean (with lots of disposable paper towels) isn’t exactly earth –friendly either.  Thankfully, there are many  alternatives available that can help us make our homes not only squeaky clean, but green.  This year, make a special effort to clean in such a way that the health of you and your family are not at risk, and the planet doesn’t suffer either.

Following are several tips for getting your home in tiptop shape.  By implementing some or all of these ideas, you can be satisfied that you will not be causing physical harm to those you live with, including pets, or the environment.

A good place to start in a home “greening “ movement is to consider the actual cleaning products that  you’re using.  The last thing we want to be doing is dumping toxic chemicals into the environment in the name of personal cleanliness.  The good news is that you don’t have to make a special trip to the health foods store, (although I do love to make trips to my local health food store), to find environmentally-sensitive cleaning products.  Seventh Generation, Method, and Biokleen are three companies that make full lines of household cleaners, and they are available in just about every store.  These products work just as well as their conventional counterparts.
Another option with cleaning products is to make them yourself.  Basic supplies include
White Distilled Vinegar (usually found in the cooking section of supermarkets
Baking Soda
Olive Oil
Borax (sold in a box in the laundry aisle)
Liquid Castille Soap (like Dr. Bronner’s brand, found in most natural food stores)
Essential Oils (super concentrated natural plant oils found in natural food stores, usually in the cosmetics section
Microfiber Cleaning Cloths
Newspaper.
Here are some ideas for putting these ingredients to use:

Glass:  Mix ¼ cup vinegar with 1 quart of water in a spray bottle.  Spray on glass and wipe clean with old newspaper or a micro-fiber (lint- free) cloth.

Countertops and Bathroom Tile:  Mix 2 parts vinegar and 1 part baking soda with 4 parts water.  Apply with a sponge, scour, and wipe away.
Floors:  Mix 4 cups of white distilled vinegar with about a gallon of hot water.  If desired, add a few drops of pure peppermint or lemon oil for a pleasant scent.  After damp mopping the floors, the smell of vinegar will dissipate quickly, leaving behind only the scent of the oil

Wood Furniture:  Mix equal parts of lemon juice and olive oil.  Apply a small amount to a cloth, and rub onto the furniture in long, even strokes.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner:  Sprinkle a toilet brush with baking soda and scrub away.  Occasionally disinfect your toilet by scrubbing with borax instead.  Wipe the outside of the toilet clean with straight vinegar.
Disinfectant:  Mix 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons vinegar, 3 cups hot water, and ¼ teaspoon liquid castille soap.  Wipe on with dampened cloth or use spray bottle.  Wipe clean.
Mold and Mildew:  Wipe with straight vinegar.
Air Freshener:  Sprinkle essential oil on a cotton ball, and stash it in a corner of the room.  Keep out of the reach of children, as essential oils are very strong and could irritate young skin.  Lavender is a relaxing scent that is great for bedrooms, and cinnamon, clove, and citrus oils are nice in the rest of the house.  Also, a few stashed in the car, like peppermint, not only provides a pleasant smell, and may help to keep you alert.
For more tips for cleaning in an environmentally friendly way, see my Abundant Raw Life April 2014 newsletter.  Contact me at abundantrawlife@gmail.com for a copy.

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