Monday, January 17, 2011

Green and frugal cleaning--less is more

I am one of those tree huggers who tries to avoids harsh chemicals and waste at all costs.  I'm not a fan of plastic (though I own my share, sigh) and I am not a fan of cleaning products that make my eyes water and my lungs threaten to pack their bags and find a more hospitable environment.  I'm also not a fan of greenwashing--so I remain very skeptical about 'green' products.  They also tend to be pricey.

So, once I got my hands on a few books about how to make your own cleaning products, I was thrilled.  I turned my kitchen into a very nice-smelling green clean factory/lab.  I made all purpose cleaners, wood polishes, floor cleaners, you name it.  And they were cheaper than either the chemical stuff you'd get in the store, or the green cleaners.  The thing is, I didn't even have to go through all of that trouble.

Now don't get me wrong--I like making the stuff.  I like using it.  Get some peppermint scented castille soap and you can make some heavenly cleaners.  But you don't even need to spend a lot of time and money doing that.

I just use the basics: soap and water, a bunch of rags, maybe some rubbing alcohol and baking soda for areas that need disinfecting or to be scoured. 

Really: if your counters are dirty, you only need to use a small amount of dishsoap and water to get them clean.  (And if you have granite countertops--it seems to be the default in a lot of homes these days--you want to stay away from vinegar.  It will eat away at the finish).  If your furniture needs dusting, a damp (not wet) cloth will do the trick--it will pick up the dust quite effectively.  If your floors are dirty, a little bit of dish soap in water (or a small amount of vinegar in water) will do just fine.  Rinse well and you're done. 

Though here's a tip--club soda does a great job on any glass surface.  I use it on my mirrors and windows and they look great.  Think about how cheap plain club soda is.  You just pour some into a spray bottle, spritz it onto the surface, and wipe it with a rag.  Boom, you're done.

It always struck me as a little odd for us to tie ourselves into knots over making things green.  You don't have to reinvent the wheel--just get back to basics.

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