Easy ways to "Green" your cleaning routine

Spring is in the air, and you know what that means…spring cleaning! Before you reach for those bottles and cans of smelly, chemical-laced cleaning concoctions, how about trying a homemade approach using items you already have in your pantry? My favorites are white vinegar and baking soda. These two pack a powerful punch, and can be used to clean just about anything in your home. They are non-toxic, effective, inexpensive and completely safe to use around children and pets. Here are a few of my favorite “recipes” to get you started:

Glass and Mirror Cleaner - Mix 2 teaspoons of vinegar with 1 quart warm water. Spray and wipe clean with a cotton cloth, or crumpled newspaper (black and white parts only, no colored print).

Toilet Bowl Cleaner - Mix ¼ cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar, pour or spray into bowl and let sit for several minutes. Scrub with brush and flush.

Clogged Shower Head - To remove mineral deposits on your shower head, fill a plastic baggie with straight vinegar, and secure it to the shower head with a rubber band. Let sit overnight, and then run the shower in the morning.

Carpet Cleaning - Stain Removal – Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray directly on stain, let sit for several minutes, and clean with a brush or sponge using warm soapy water, or club soda.  Deodorizer – Sprinkle baking soda on your carpet and let it sit for 15-20 minutes, then vacuum.

Laundry - Add ½ cup white vinegar to final rinse cycle, to act as a natural fabric softener.

While we’re on the subject of eco-friendly cleaning, let’s chat about cleaning up when our furry friends go potty. It’s not a fun job, but you’ve gotta do it! You might not give much thought to the kind of bags you use to clean up after your pooch when he or she potties, but that can actually have a big impact on the environment. Are you using degradable bags or plastic grocery bags? Did you know that it could take an estimated 500-1000 years for a plastic grocery bag to break down in a landfill? Degradable bags are commonly made from corn products, or plastic that has a special additive which helps the bags break down faster than standard plastic bags. These types of bags break down in just a few years. For the cost of a few cents per bag, you can help reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in our landfills. And don’t forget about kitty! I use the larger degradable bags with handles (Earth Rated brand) when I’m cleaning out my cats’ litter boxes. They hold more waste, and I can use one bag for several cleanings before it has to be tossed out.

Happy eco-friendly cleaning!

Written by ~ Kristin Tervydis (Oak Brook Team)