We waste a great deal of money and precious storage space on specialty cleaning solutions when we actually only need a handful of versatile nontoxic products to clean an entire home. From Green This!
Back to the Basics: Essential Cleaning Products
… I want you to go look under your kitchen sink, or inside your utility closet, or wherever you keep your household cleaning products. You probably have a lot of different bottles stashed away — most Americans do.
So, what did you find in there? Window/glass cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, spray bleach, detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets, spot remover, spray starch, automatic dishwashing detergent, hand dishwashing liquid, furniture polish, oven cleaner, scouring cream, shower cleaner, tub and tile cleaner, carpet shampoo, and probably several other products you can no longer remember why you bought in the first place.
When we greened Hackensack University Medical Center, the janitorial staff had been using twenty-two different cleaning products. This inflated figure was pretty typical of the hospitals and other institutions — including schools — that we visited. Some places were using up to twenty-five or thirty different products. By the end of the greening process at Hackensack, we’d cut that number down to eight core and eleven total, half of what they used to order.
Like hospitals, we waste a great deal of money and precious storage space on specialty products. You actually only need a handful of versatile nontoxic products to clean your entire house.
- All-purpose cleaner for floors, counters, kitchen surfaces, bathrooms, tubs, tiles, carpets, spills, and stains
- Window/glass cleaner for glass, windows, and all stainless steel
- Automatic dishwashing detergent
- Hand dishwashing liquid for pots, pans, dishes, fine china, glasses, teapots, coffeepots, silver, and anything else you don’t want to put in your dishwasher
- Laundry liquid
- Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is unbelievably useful in every room of your house. It can neutralize acid, scrub shiny materials without scratching, unclog and clean drains, extinguish grease fires, and remove certain stains. Baking soda can also be used to deodorize your refrigerator, carpets, and upholstery. It can clean and polish aluminum, chrome, jewelry, plastic, porcelain, silver, stainless steel, copper, and tin.
- Distilled white vinegar works much better than any toxic disinfectant you can buy. It contains about 5 percent acetic acid, which makes it great at removing stains. Vinegar can also dissolve mineral deposits and grease, remove traces of soap, remove mildew or wax buildup, polish some metals, and deodorize almost every room of your house. You can use it to clean coffeepots, windows, brick, stone, carpets, toilet bowls — just about every surface in your house except marble, in fact. A tablespoon of white vinegar added to the rinse cycle also acts as a wonderful fabric softener. While it’s normally diluted with water, in some cases, it can be used straight. I recommend using organic vinegar, which is slightly pricier than the nonorganic kind but still a lot cheaper than most consumer cleaning products.
- Lemon juice is a natural odor-eater that combines well with other ingredients. It can be used to clean glass and remove stains from aluminum, copper, clothing, and porcelain, and nothing works better on Formica surfaces. If used with sunlight, lemon juice is a mild lightener or bleach. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon into the wash cycle to get rid of odors on clothing.
- Table salt is great at removing rust. With lemon juice, it can clean copper. When mixed with vinegar, salt polishes brass. Salt is also a key ingredient in an effective, all-natural scouring powder.
- Hydrogen peroxide can be diluted to remove stains from heavily soiled whites and other clothing and a number of surfaces. You can dip a cotton swab in diluted hydrogen peroxide to remove stains from thick white curtains.
- Essential oils
- Ketchup can be used to clean copper and brass.
MORE ARTICLES BY THE AUTHOR
- 4 Holistic Health Practices to Try
- 4 Questions to Ask When Shopping for Green Cleaning Products
- 7 Reasons Children Are Exceptionally Sensitive to Everyday Chemicals
- How to Make Your Child’s School Safer
- Nourishing Baby: Smart Choices for Moms — Plus, How to Find Safe Baby Bottles
- Top 10 Ways to Green Your Life
- Read Chapter 1 of Green This! Volume 1: Greening Your Cleaning
- See the book’s Table of Contents
- Watch the video: Easy green lifestyle changes anyone can make
- More books by Deirdre Imus