05 April 2010

It's not easy being green... or is it?

Spring Scenery

It is finally warm out and I feel compelled to keep all the windows open and air out the house. It's time for Spring Cleaning. It is also a great time to get started on detoxing your home.

I know it sounds intimidating, but there are a few simple things you can do right away to "green" up your place.  First, take stock of what you have in the house. Here's everything you'll need to make household cleaners that are safe and effective, and won't mess with your endocrine or reproductive systems.

The list:
  • distilled white vinegar
  • baking soda
  • borax
  • washing soda (in the laundry aisle of your supermarket, near the borax)
  • essential oils (the type is up to you - chose any oils with antimicrobial or antibacterial properties - I use tea tree or bergamot in the kitchen and lavender in the bathroom)
  • liquid soap - like Dr. Bronner's - something natural
  • spray bottles to put your cleaners in (I got mine in the dollar store)
  • a paint container (the 5 gallon kind - from a hardware store)
  • a big box ( to dump all your current toxic cleaners in)

You may already have a lot of this in the house to begin with... if not, most of it can be purchased cheaply and will last an inordinate amount of time. The most expensive item will be the liquid soap, but again, it will last a long time. This is everything you need to get started.

So, what can you do with all these items? You'll make all-purpose kitchen cleaners, bathroom cleaners, windex, and laundry detergent. And it is so easy, you'll never spend money on brand-name cleaners again!

Kitchen Cleaner
 - spray bottle
 - warm water
 - vinegar
 - essential oil (citrus or tea tree oil)

First, label your bottle. Then add in 1 part vinegar and two parts water. Add 10-20 drops of essential oil. Shake well. Voila! You can use this to clean the entire kitchen.

When you need some scrubbing power on greasy surfaces, spray first and sprinkle with baking soda. Rub mixture onto greasy surface. Wipe off excess. Spray & wipe to get rid of residue.

The spray can be used on all surfaces - including glass - with no streaks!

Bathroom cleaner
Repeat above, increasing vinegar slightly. Substitute lavender oil in the mixture.

You can use baking soda in the bathroom, as well. I use it to clean the toilet and it always sparkles. First, spray with the lavender cleaner. Then sprinkle with baking soda. Leave it for a few minutes, then clean with the toilet brush.

Mirrors? Use your lavender cleaner - you will never have streaks again. You can even wipe the mirrors with a rag instead of paper towels with out streaking!

Laundry Detergent
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
1/4  - 1/2 cup liquid soap
5 gallon bucket
hot water

** When mixing the detergent, be careful not to inhale the powder from the borax, it can irritate the nasal passages and lungs. I just keep my face turned away as I pour it from the box.**

Dissolve the borax and washing soda in the bucket with 2 gallons of hot water. Once the mixture is dissolved, add in the liquid soap and mix together.  Fill bucket with 2 additional gallons of hot water and mix thoroughly.  Put some detergent in a smaller container that you can easily carry to the laundry room.  Seal the bucket up tightly.

Use 1/3 - 1/2 cup per load. For the first few washes, add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle as the residue from your old detergent washes out of the clothes.  Vinegar is also a great fabric softener - 1/2 cup - and your clothes will smell fresh - not vinegary.

This mixture lasts about 4 months in my house. I've been using it for over a year and my clothes are clean, soft, and look great.

You can do all of this in 30 minutes or less. Your house will be clean and non-toxic.  And you'll save money, too!

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