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Cleaning House

Eco-friendly cleaning solutions you can make right in your own home.

While not everyone enjoys cleaning the house, almost everyone likes to reap the benefits of a sparkling clean home.

A clean house just looks nice. There is something invigorating about a house that smells clean and fresh. And if you are like me, a nice clean house gives you an overall sense of pride and well-being

Unfortunately, many cleaning products on the market today are loaded with potentially hazardous and even toxic chemicals. For example, breathing in the fumes of cleaners containing a high concentration of chlorine can irritate the lungs, and chlorine is also a highly corrosive substance, capable of damaging skin, eyes and other membranes.

Fortunately, most everyday household cleaning jobs can be easily tackled with a few make-at-home solutions. These recipes for home-cleaning products are easy to make, greener, safer and much more cost effective than their store-bought counterparts.

In fact, they are so safe, even kids can make them (with a little help). And kids can join in on the cleaning, too. 

In addition to the recipes below for green cleaning alternatives, try using old towels, washcloths or even old, worn-out T-shirts cut into rags instead of paper towels or other throwaway paper products for cleaning. You’ll create much less waste and save even more money than on the cleaning products alone. 

I bought several empty spray bottles from my local home center, and make these right in my kitchen along with my three kids.

All Purpose Cleaner No. 1

10-15 drops of Tea Tree oil

2 quarts of water

I use this primarily for sinks, toilets, and baths. Tea tree oil is a natural mold inhibitor. It cleans to a shine without any harmful chemicals. It has a very intense smell, so some people may choose to add a little fragrance or another essential oil, such as lavender, to the mix. I enjoy the strong clean scent and use it alone.

All Purpose Cleaner No. 2

3 cups of white distilled vinegar

1 qt of warm water

20 drops of rosemary or lavender essential oil (optional)

Vinegar cleans as well as any of those chemical cleaners on the market. I use this one for cleaning my countertops, stovetops, appliances and floors. I buy the vinegar in large bottles at my local wholesale club, and it literally costs me pennies a bottle to make this cleaner. 

Furniture Polish

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white distilled vinegar

20 drops of lemon oil (or to your liking)

It sounds like you’re making a salad, but this cleaner works wonders. The oil and vinegar clean my tables, dressers, and shelves to a beautiful shine, picking up dust and polishing as well as any store-bought polish. The lemon oil gives it that freshly polished scent, but is completely optional. 

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

1 part baking soda

1 part white vinegar

Pour directly into bowl and scrub.

Yes, these solutions really work just as well as those expensive, smelly, chemical-filled, store-bought products.

If you have specialty baths or countertops, such as Corian, check with the manufacturer to be sure that these products are safe for use.

Making your own cleaning products is another way to live green and save green right in your own backyard.

Joshua Berry October 01, 2011 at 01:06 PM
Thanks for the tips!
Ivette Emperador October 01, 2011 at 08:14 PM
I'm looking forward to trying these. Thanks! Does anyone know where I can buy the lavender essential oil and lemon oil inexpensively?
Michelle Wolfson October 01, 2011 at 09:28 PM
Well, not to endorse any particular site or anything, but if you can find a good deal on shipping- it's probably cheapest to order them online. Amazon, iHerb.com, LuckyVitamin, and Drugstore.com all havegood prices on essential oils. If you prefer to shop locally, and support a local business, Natural Health on Blackwood Clementon Rd has a wide array of oils. They are not cheap, but you can catch them on sale sometimes, and you can find 20% off coupons they have in The Clipper magazine
Ivette Emperador October 02, 2011 at 12:27 AM
THANKS!
Michelle Wolfson October 05, 2011 at 01:03 AM
I may have to do a part two to this column. I've been experimenting and researching more green cleaning options and have found a few more that I am really enjoying.

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