Cleaning Tips, Guides & Resources
10 Green Cleaning Tips For a Safer, Healthier Home, and a Better Planet!
The impacts of toxic chemicals in our lives can have far reaching complications, and cause irreparable damage to our health. Right from our shampoos, soaps, washing detergents, and dishwashing liquid, to the plastic containers we use to store food, the sprays used to treat our crops, and so on; there is likely some level of toxicity present in all of these things. Even worse, so many chemicals get flushed down our drains and find their way into our soil and groundwater.
On account of this, people are becoming more aware of the ill-effects surrounding the use of toxic chemicals in everyday life, and are now searching for eco-friendly sustainable products and solutions to use in place of them. The good news is that there is a wide range of actions that we can adopt in our lives in this regard. These can range from reusing and reducing our waste to eliminating harsh chemicals in our homes. This is where Green Cleaning comes in with its use of environmentally-friendly cleaning products and methods that keep your home, and those in it, safe.
Today, we have listed 10 key essential products and actions that can be done to reduce our use or consumption of chemicals in our lives, directly or indirectly. These green cleaning tips do away with harmful products in your home cleaning process, and are easy, safe, and inexpensive to use.
#1 Replace Chemical Cleaners With Distilled White Vinegar
Many store-bought cleaning solutions contain harmful toxic chemicals, and release fumes that are called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). These enter our body after regular use in our home, and damage our cells. A safe alternative to these harmful, chemical-based cleaners is to make your own white vinegar cleaning spray. Distilled white vinegar has an acetic acid level between 4% to 7%, and is an excellent cleaning product due to its disinfectant properties. It is effective in cutting through rust, mineral deposits, soap scum, grease, and dirt.
Here’s how you can replace chemical cleaners with white vinegar for effective green cleaning in your household:
- Make a DIY cleaning solution with white vinegar and water in equal parts to clean kitchen counters, fridge interiors and exteriors, bathroom walls, windows, pans, grout, glass, etc.
- White vinegar works well as a carpet stain remover. Mix baking soda with a small amount of vinegar and then gently work the paste into your fibres of the carpet. Allow it to dry, and vacuum up after a few hours. We advise testing this method in a small, out-of-view area to ensure that it works for your specific carpet type. To clean stubborn dirt on tiled surfaces, sprinkle baking soda on the area, and spray vinegar over it; wipe clean after a few minutes.
- You can also remove limescale from your kettle by boiling water and white vinegar in equal ratios.
- Clean your windows using equal amounts of water and white vinegar. Spray on the solution and then wipe with a squeegee.
- You can remove hard water stains on glasses by soaking the cloudy glass in a bowl of white vinegar for 5 minutes. Remove, rinse, and dry after.
- To wipe flooring that uses ceramic tiles, vinyl, linoleum, or hardwood, mop clean with a mix of 1 cup of vinegar to 4 litres warm water, and do not rinse.
- You can also clean your dishwasher by putting a bowl of vinegar in the empty unit (on the top shelf), and then running a full, hot cycle.
#2 Use Citrus Fruits for Their Cleaning & Freshening Benefits
The disinfectant properties of citric acid and freshness of citrus fruits like lime, lemon, and oranges, make them a strong cleaning agent for a wide variety of household areas. Take a look below.
- Remove stubborn odours like fishy or poultry smells by scrubbing your chopping board, or anything else, with bits of lime or lemon.
- You can also rub lemon on your cutting board to remove stains.
- To clean your microwave, squeeze lime into a microwave-safe bowl of water, and heat for 4 to 5 minutes. Allow the lemony steam to work its magic into the corners of the microwave. Open after a minute and wipe clean. This steam clean will help loosen food and grease stuck to the inside, and will freshen up the microwave as well.
Add small bits of chopped lime down your garbage disposal and turn it on to clean and refresh the inside of the unit.
#3 Clean With Baking Soda
Baking soda or sodium bi-carbonate is one of those understated household items. Most of us, especially if you are into baking, have it lying in our pantries, and use it only for this purpose. However, if you didn’t already know, baking soda is one of those cost-effective, super ingredients that is highly effective in cleaning a range of things in your home.
Here are some great tips for cleaning with baking soda:
- Baking soda can be used as a mild abrasive for scrubbing your stove top, degreasing shelves, removing mould, cleaning stainless steel kitchen sinks, cleaning tiled floors, and a range of house items. Simply make a paste of baking soda and water, apply it to the dirty patch, allow it to sit for a few minutes, and then gently scrub the area with an old rag, toothbrush or scrubber. Wipe clean thereafter.
- As baking soda is highly absorbent, it is great at neutralising odours. Store a bowl of baking soda in your fridge to eliminate stale smells; dust baking soda over your carpet, leave for at least 1-2 hours, and then vacuum away; sprinkle some over pet beds, or the couch, and then brush or vacuum it off to remove dog odour; lastly, pour some into your shoes and leave it overnight to freshen them up. Remember, the longer it stays on the items, the more oil, dirt, and odour it picks up.
- Unclog your drains and sinks by pouring baking soda down the drain, leave it for 15 minutes, and then pour in white vinegar. The bubbles formed by the reaction with these 2 ingredients will dislodge the dirt, making it easier to flush or wipe clean. To remove musty smells from your toilet or drain, instead of vinegar, follow the baking soda with hot water.
- To clean up dull silver, mix 3 parts of baking soda to 1 part water, and buff the silver piece till it shines. Rinse and dry after.
#4 Clean & Add Beautiful Aromas to Your Home With Essential Oils
Essential oils are one of the natural cleaners that scores points for beautiful scents. You can add a few drops of your favourite essential oils to your home-made cleaners, in a simmering pot, or a diffuser, or simply use them on their own.
Here are a few important things to know about different Essential Oils:
- Lemon Essential Oil: Antiviral and Antibacterial.
You can also use it to degrease stains.
- Lavender Essential Oil: Antibacterial.
Add 5 drops of this essential oil to your water vinegar cleaning solution.
- Wild Orange Essential Oil: Helps cut through grease.
Use 1 – 2 drops to remove grease from countertops, or use 12 drops with ¼ cup castile soap and water to clean stove tops or greasy surfaces.
- Peppermint Essential Oil: Antibacterial.
Add 12 drops of peppermint essential oil to 1 cup water, and spray in crevices, gaps and cracks around the house to get rid of ants and spiders.
- Cinnamon Essential Oil: Antiseptic and Antibacterial.
Add a few drops to your cleaning solutions to wipe away mildew and mould. Dust some cinnamon powder or add a few drops of essential oil to keep away pests.
- Pine Essential Oil: Helps kill spores of E.coli, yeast and other germs.
Use it to get rid of mould and mildew in the bathroom.
- Tea Tree Essential Oil: Helps to fight viruses, bacteria and germs, and bugs/lice.
To make a home-made pest deterrent spray, add a few drops to water, and spray around entries of your home.
- Eucalyptus Essential Oil: Helps deter germs.
Mix a few drops with baking soda to clean your mattress. Leave a few leaves or drops in cupboards to reduce pests. You can even add it to your kitchen and bathroom cleaning solution.
- Rosemary Essential Oil: Antiseptic and Antibacterial.
It can be added to your dishwashing soap.
#5 Use Hydrogen Peroxide 3% as a Multi-Purpose Cleaner
Hydrogen peroxide is an affordable, natural, and safe bleaching and stain removal agent. In fact, just a few drops go a long way when it comes to household cleaning! It can be mixed with water or baking soda but NEVER with vinegar.
Take a look at these amazing green cleaning solutions using hydrogen peroxide as a core ingredient:
- Mixing hydrogen peroxide with baking soda will make a paste that can be used to remove tough stains, and mould, or lift dirt off your tile grout. Allow the paste to sit on the stain for 15 minutes, gently scrub with a suitable cleaning brush, and then wipe clean with hot/warm water.
- Hydrogen peroxide works well as a natural disinfectant. After mixing it with water, you can clean your kitchen counter, bathroom areas, and other surfaces in your home. Simply combine 1 cup hydrogen peroxide with 1 litre of water in a spray bottle, use it on the surface, and allow it to sit for a few minutes to effectively disinfect the area.
NOTE: Hydrogen peroxide should be stored away from light.
#6 Avoid Single Use or Limited Use Items
Items like paper towels, wipes, and disposable nappies cause more harm compared to the benefit of their convenience. For example, the production of paper towels releases harmful gases like carbon dioxide and methane, and results in $12 billion of waste which is non-recyclable.
As an alternative, you can make your own cleaning cloths from old towels and t-shirts which also doesn’t cost you a penny! They work well to wipe clean or dry crockery, sinks, mirrors, kitchen counters, bathtubs, and even your flooring. All you need to do is simply cut up old T-shirts or towels into different sizes based on your needs, and wipe away!
#7 Rid Your Home of Plastic
Many plastic containers and packaging that we use contain the synthetic compound Bisphenol A (BHA), or/and Phthalates, both of which have been linked to a range of serious health issues. Plastic also tends to end up in our oceans, and gets broken down into microplastics. These absorb toxic chemicals (like pesticides and DDT) in the water, and are often consumed by fish which, in turn, is consumed by us, thus causing further health concerns for people.
So, one way to keep your body, home, and planet clean is to eliminate the use of plastic. Here are some key tips to help you get started:
- Carry a cloth bag that can be repeatedly used to carry your groceries and other items. You can also make your own carry-on cloth bags from old clothes, jeans, or fabric. Alternatively, we advise buying these bags from environmental related agencies that sell a range of products made from waste. Keep these in your handbag and car making it convenient for when you are out shopping or suddenly need a spare bag.
- Use glass to store your food, drinks, and creams in your home. Recycle your pasta or jam jar to refrigerate foods and keep them fresh.
- Carry your own takeout containers when ordering food. Talk to your favourite restaurants about how you want to reduce your plastic use, and discuss the possibility of providing them with glass containers for your takeaway orders.
- Find an eco-food store where you can package food like pulses and rice in your own containers or bags. These types of stores are increasing in popularity, and can be found with a simple google search in your area.
- Carry your own portable coffee cup. Many coffee stores are very on board with this as it reduces their investment cost.
- Avoid buying fruits and vegetables wrapped in plastic packaging.
- Avoid buying snacks that come in single use plastics.
By stopping the entry of these plastic items into your home, you are already helping reduce your waste in the home, in the oceans and, ultimately, the plastic that might end up on your plate.
#8 Make Natural Home Fresheners with Simmering Pots
Avoid store-bought or chemically-made sprays to freshen up your home. There are several, simple and safe alternatives for this purpose, and they actually smell a lot better than most overbearing commercial air fresheners.
You can use a diffuser with your favourite essential oils, or boil a pot of coffee for that warm cozy aroma of a café. Similarly, boil lemon, cinnamon, cloves or cranberries, and allow the waft to flow through your rooms. By doing this, you are also reducing your exposure to toxins, plastic use, and your contribution to waste.
#9 Repurpose or Upcycle Your Existing Household Items
By reusing items, you find lying around your home, you are saving money, eliminating the hassle of shopping, saving time spent on procuring items, maximising space in your home, and doing your part for the environment by switching to green cleaning.
Some ideas for repurposing or upcycling existing household items include using old toothbrushes to clean grout, small spaces, the edges of taps, inside your dishwasher, etc. Use old clothes like socks to clean blinds, old towels to clean big spaces, old t-shirts to wipe and dust around the house, shoe boxes as cupboard/drawer dividers, glass bottles to store water and home-made juices, and so on.
#10 Steam Clean Your Home
A great tool for green cleaning your floors is using a steam cleaner. The hot steam will effectively kill germs without the use of harsh chemicals, or much effort. Steam cleaners are also relatively easy to use, and can help with giving your tiled floor a streak-free clean look.
Of course, they can be used to deep clean and disinfect carpets as well by extracting dirt that is embedded in the carpet pile. Some steam cleaners also come with tools to steam clean your curtains and couches. Similarly, you can steam clean your mattress with an appropriate attachment to kill those pesky bed bugs, dust mites, mould spores, and bacteria.
A Few Bonus Tips on Green Cleaning
- Polish your furniture by mixing 2 parts olive oil with 1 part lemon juice, and gently apply to your furniture using a soft cloth. Alternatively, add 10 drops of lemon essential oil in ½ cup of olive oil to polish leather or wood.
- To remove the smell of paint inside your house, place a few dishes of vinegar around the room whilst you paint, and for a few extra days after you have finished painting.
- To bring back shine for tarnished brass or copper, rub a slice of lemon dipped in salt on the item, and then scrub with a soft cloth. Rinse and dry after the tarnish is removed. For tougher tarnishes, make a paste of equal parts salt, vinegar, and flour, and rub with a soft cloth before wiping clean.
Living a life free of harsh chemicals can work wonders for your health and mental wellbeing. You have the power to decide what’s good for you and your family, and the power to choose what you let into your home, especially when cleaning. So, the next time you go to the store, pick up a few of the above-mentioned products, and skip the commercially made cleaning ones. This will help you gradually move away from harsh chemicals, and bring green cleaning into your natural daily routine!
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