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Live Green

Go Green with Your Cleaning Efforts

Forget the pricey brand-name products and make your own with these suggestions. You’ll save time and money and feel good about ditching the strong chemicals.    

Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens®


Getting Started

As you prepare your house to sell, one of the most important things you can do is to give it a good cleaning. Before you run to the store to load up on expensive specialty cleaners, look inside your cabinets and see if you can go green with some of your cleaning efforts. Simple items such as lemons, salt, distilled white vinegar, and baking soda can offer strong cleaning benefits.

Creating your own cleaning products will offer cost savings, environmental benefits, and allow you to get to cleaning instead of shopping. Keep in mind that you must never combine ammonia and bleach. The fumes are highly toxic.

But you can develop your own products. Baking soda and salt can act as gentle abrasives to help you scrub out stains and build-up. Create a general-use cleaner with the combination of essential oil with baking soda or salt. Whisk it together and store in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. You can even replenish the scent by adding a few drops of oil as you use the concoction.


Lemon Scrubber

Now it’s time to take on oil, grease, dirt, and soap scum. Look no further than a box of Borax and a few lemons. Borax is alkalai and the lemons are acidic, allowing them to combat those pesky spots. Dip a sliced lemon into some Borax and use the fruit as a scrubber in the bathroom, kitchen, on the cupboards and appliances. To remove rust or food stains on countertops, rub a cut lemon over the spot or squeeze fresh lemon juice onto the area and let it sit for up to 30 minutes.


Glass Cleaner

Make your own streak-free glass cleaner by mixing a solution of 2 cups water, 2 cups rubbing alcohol, and 1/2 cup ammonia. Put the mixture in a spray bottle (32 ounces or larger) and use a clean, absorbent lint-free rag (soft cotton is ideal) to wipe the glass. The ammonia does most of the cleaning and the alcohol speeds up the drying time to help eliminate streaks.


Baking Soda

This works best on proteins, grease, and animal messes. Because it's slightly abrasive, it can be used for scouring -- and, of course, it's a natural deodorizer. Sprinkle baking soda directly onto the soiled area and scrub with a damp cloth. For added cleaning power, mix it with water to form a paste the consistency of peanut butter, then scrub.


Distilled White Vinegar

This mild acid works on alkaline substances, dissolving scale, inhibiting mold, and cutting soap scum. It's terrific for stains such as coffee, rust, and tea. Dilute distilled white vinegar in water to cut through tacky dirt, soap scum, mineral deposits, or wax buildup. (Add a drop of essential oil to diffuse the vinegar odor.) For heavy buildup, soak a rag in vinegar, lay it over the area, leave it for an hour, and then scrub.


Simple Soap

Try cleaning with castile soap made with olive oil, or a vegetable-based soap. Both attach to soil at the molecular level, so you can rinse dirt away with water.


More Natural Cleaning Ingredients

Ammonia: Dilute 1 tablespoon of ammonia in a pint of water for a strong grease-cutting solution.

Liquid Dish Soap: To create a single-use cleaning solution, dissolve a teaspoon of liquid dish soap in a quart of water, then add a teaspoon of vinegar. (Do not add the two at the same time; the acid in the vinegar will neutralize the alkali in the soap.)

Salt: For a paste that removes hard-water stains, mix 1/4 cup salt with 2 tablespoons vinegar.


More Natural Cleaning Ideas

It's simple to clean the natural way. Check out more recipes and green product ideas from eco-friendly home expert, Linda Mason Hunter.


Go Green

Check out a few of our favorite green cleaning supplies, and learn what makes a product eco-friendly.


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