Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Using greener cleaners

Man scrubbing floor

I have written many times about greener living and I have only increased my commitment to doing more as every year passes. Overcoming some of my squeamishness (e.g., worm composting) is never easy but determination counts for much in this area. One area that I am inexorably replacing commercial items with simpler, greener ones is my cleaning products.

Bathroom
I have to say, cleaning the bathroom is merely something I have to do--occasionally--when forced. However, a mix of vinegar and baking soda works for nearly all surfaces in the bathroom: sink, faucet, tub, tub walls, toilet. For the toilet seat and mirror, I use a dilution of vinegar (50% vinegar/50% water by volume) to spray and wipe off with a sponge and newspaper respectively. The vinegar smell dissipates soon after use and does not linger like chemical scents.

For stubborn stains in the toilet bowl, I have found a pumice stone (e.g., Pumie Scouring Stick) works great without a lot of scrubbing. I heard about this from other people looking for alternatives to chemical cleaners and found Pumie brand at my local hardware store.

Kitchen
I use the 50/50 vinegar spray liberally on counters, tabletop and stove top. Vinegar + baking soda is great for the sink and while I have not tried it, should work well in the oven too. Making a paste with the vinegar and baking soda is great where you want more scrubbing action and more vinegar when you need less.

Laundry
I make my own laundry detergent and only use vinegar to soften my laundry. In fact, I find the chemical-embedded dryer sheets have scents too strong for my nose. I gave away the last of my dryer sheets and have not looked back since. I also used oxygen-based bleach if I want some extra cleaning power in the laundry as it is kinder to laundry and the environment than chlorine-based bleaches.

Floors
I prefer to sweep than mop, but when a good floor cleaning is necessary, I use hot water with some vinegar for my laminate and tile floors.

One gallon of vinegar costs me $1.60 and a 4 pound box of baking soda was purchased for $2.70. Both of these items cost less than any all-purpose spray and bathroom cleaner and toilet bowl cleaner and other item thought necessary for cleaning. Being green and frugal has a nice sound to it, yes?

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