by Kelli Cooper
Green CleaningAs the general public is becoming more educated about the problems facing our environment and the potential dangers of the various chemicals found in every day household items, there is a growing interest in turning to ‘’green’’ products that will help contribute not only to a healthy planet, but also a healthy body. If you are interested in greening up your cleaning routine, here are some helpful tips.

Freshen Your Air the Natural Way

A nice fragrance in the air creates a more enjoyable space and air fresheners are also good for masking odors or eliminating them completely. But, when it comes to the health of your body and the environment, conventional products leave much to be desired. They are laden with loads of harmful chemicals that pollute the air and settle into furniture and carpets. According to WebMD, a test of one of the most common products found it contained 20 volatile organic compounds, or VOCs—all sorts of products naturally emit these gases, which can be harmful when inhaled. Even worse, several of these substances are classified as toxic by United States federal law. Of course, you are not going to see any of this information on a product label since all of these chemicals need only be labeled as ‘’fragrance.’’

Boiling fragrant herbs such as cinnamon and clove are great alternatives; you can also find many air freshener products that are made from natural ingredients such as essential oils. If odors are a problem, try spraying a mix of three parts white vinegar and one part water; this may sound strange since vinegar itself is a bit smelly, but when it makes contact with the air and surfaces in the home, the odor neutralizes. If you like burning scented candles, opt for soy-based ones.

Natural Cleaning Products

Besides being loaded with potentially toxic chemicals, their eco-unfriendliness also stems from the fact that they are based on a non-renewable source of energy–petroleum. There are over 17,000 different types of petrochemicals that are used to make cleaning products and only 30 percent of them have been tested for environmental and health safety—that is a lot of untested chemicals floating around the air.

The green movement has gone a bit more mainstream and many manufacturers now offer totally natural cleaning products that are no-toxic, biodegradable and made from renewable resources. If your budget is a bit tight, the good news is, you can easily make your own cleaning products at home with a few simple household ingredients. Essentially, you can pretty much clean anything with vinegar, baking soda, vegetable based soaps, salt and lemon juice.

Pour some vinegar on newspaper to get your windows sparkling clean. Full strength vinegar is great for scrubbing moldy areas. You can make a general all purpose cleaner by combining borax, vinegar, vegetable-based soap, baking soda and hot water.  Give your oven a good scrub with salt and baking soda. Need a natural floor cleanser? Just combine some vinegar and vegetable-based soap. A combination of baking soda and vinegar makes a great natural drain cleaner. Polish some varnished wood with lemon oil and warm water; olive oil and lemon juice works great on unvarnished wood.

Other Green Cleaning Tips

Conventional sponges not only sit in landfills forever, they release a substance thought to cause cancer when a chemical used to make the sponge interacts with the chlorine in tap water; choose sponges made of cellulose instead. If you use mothballs to protect your stored items, you may want to look into alternatives, such as cedar chips or dried lemon peels wrapped in cheesecloth, a cloth soaked in cedar oil or sachets made with vetiver, rose pedals, lavender and rosemary. As you can see, greening up your cleaning routine is relatively simple and inexpensive. Not only are you being a better friend to mother earth, you are creating a healthier home for you and your family.

Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about all things home-related from green cleaning tips to how to redecorate on a budget. If you are in need of some new household products, follow the links to check out a variety of products such as Proctor Silex irons and Proctor Silex coffee makers


Photo background credit: Daisies On Green Background by Vera Kratochvil