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Cleaning, Eco-Style

Natural Home Cleaning Products and Methods

By Pam Grundy,

It might surprise you to learn that some of the most damaging pollutants are found right under your own kitchen sink. Many common household cleaners contain extremely toxic substances that are difficult to break down.
Some of these include:

• Ammonia
• Dichloro (or trichloro) isocyanurate
• Glycol ethers
• Oxalic acid
• Phenols
• Sodium Carbonate
• Sodium hypochlorite
• Sodium metasilicate
• Tripolphosphate
• Trisodium phosphate

In addition to these common pollutants, many basic cleaners contain bleach or ammonia, which are poisonous and hard on clothes and surfaces. When mixed together inadvertently they create toxic fumes that can be deadly.

What's more, these toxic formulas are usually completely unnecessary. Most people over-clean their homes with chemicals far stronger and more expensive than is really necessary or healthy. The following simple ingredients can be purchased inexpensively and then safely combined to create all the household cleaning products most people will ever need:
• White vinegar
• Hydrogen Peroxide
• Baking soda
• Borax
• Fresh Lemons
• Olive Oil
• Castile Soap

White vinegar has antiseptic properties so strong it is used by the housekeeping staffs of many major corporations to clean restroom counters. Hydrogen peroxide is a safe alternative to bleach and can be purchased at any pharmacy. Baking soda not only cleans and deodorizes, it has abrasive properties that make it an excellent cleanser.

A fresh lemon cut in half and dipped in baking soda and peroxide can be used to scrub any kitchen or bathroom surface effectively with no dangerous residue. Castile Soap and Olive oil make a good furniture polish or wood floor cleaner, and Castile Soap alone makes an excellent and freshly scented dishwashing detergent.

If you do have toxic household cleaners in your home, the best way to dispose of them is to use them up and then put the containers in the trash. Buy (or save) some empty spray bottles and fill with one part white vinegar to three parts water for a good all-purpose spray similar to ammonia-based glass cleaner.

For more ideas on how to create your own safe household cleaners out of basic, biodegradable ingredients, visit Your home will be clean, your family and the environment will be safe, and what's more, you will save tons of money!

A Green Laundry Room

By Pam Grundy,

Greening your laundry room is one of the easiest ways to get started running an earth-friendly home. Making some small, easy changes to your daily routine will also almost certainly save you money. Resources for going green are abundant.

First, take a look at your laundry habits and ask yourself if you really need all the products you are currently using. Bleach and chemical stain removers are hard on your clothes and hard on the environment. Pick up a good manual on natural stain removal: cold water, baking soda, and vinegar go a long way. The trick is learning which stain needs which treatment.
You can also make your own clothing detergent by combining:
• 1 cup Fels Naptha or Ivory Soap Flakes
•  cup washing soda
•  cup borax

If an article of clothing has tough stains, you can soak it for half an hour in cold water mixed with a tablespoon of the homemade detergent, or in cold water mixed with cup of hydrogen peroxide. Then wash the item as usual.

Another important resource for going green that saves money and minimizes your carbon footprint is to wash your clothing in cold water and line dry it outside or on hangers inside. Not only will this save you electricity, it will prolong the life of your clothes. Some clothing will dry to a softer feel if tossed in warm dryer for no more than five minutes, then hung to finish on a hanger or wire. This step almost eliminates ironing.

Drycleaning should be minimized. The most popular solvent used for drycleaning is perchloroethylene, although some states have now banned its use. 'Perc', is an extremely toxic and hazardous air pollutant that is also a central nervous system depressant. Luckily, more and more drycleaners are now using liquid carbon dioxide, which is nonpolluting and produces excellent results. Some also use a new non-toxic drycleaning solvent called Green Earth.

You might ask yourself if you really need to dry clean your items or if some of them can be gently washed in Ivory Soap by hand and air-dried flat or on a hanger. At the very least, choose a drycleaner who uses one of the newer, earth-friendly methods. Once you get into the habit of using green laundry methods, you will find that your energy bills decrease, your clothes last longer, and you have more money left for fun and entertainment. What could be better than that?

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