The search for “Green” Cleaning Products
How many times have we seen TV commercials advertising cleaning products that promise to make our lives easier? The choices are almost endless. Add to that the challenge of finding “green” cleaning products that live up to what they promise. We may be looking for products that are naturally derived, free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and that don’t harm the environment. More and more manufacturers are claiming to provide these benefits and more, while still doing the job of cleaning your home.
Green Cleaning Products
But there’s another option for consumers looking for earth-friendly products. Most of the time, you need not look further than your kitchen cabinets to find products and ingredients that can clean while not harming the environment. Here are just a few examples:
- Baking Soda – It’s not just for baking anymore. Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a fine white powder with a pH of 9 that is found in products like toothpaste and deodorant. But it also makes a great cleaning product when mixed with water to make a paste. It is just as effective as commercial cleaning powders, while saving money. In a pinch, you can even use your favorite whitening toothpaste to clean ceramic surfaces in the kitchen and bath. You can polish stainless steel appliances safely without scratching them. You can also add a few tablespoons to your wash cycle to sweeten clothing. You could say that baking soda has 101 uses.
- Lemon Juice – A great citrus fruit that’s popular in salad dressings, cocktails, and as an emulsifier in Hollandaise sauce, it contains about 5% citric acid. This gives it a very low pH (2-3). Its high Vitamin C content makes it a popular ingredient in brightening serums. But did you know that lemon juice can help kill germs? Add a few drops of lemon oil to castile soap or dishwashing liquid and clean as usual. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can create your own furniture polish. Just mix .2 oz lemon oil with 8 oz. of melted beeswax or candelilla wax. Cool and apply to furniture with a clean cloth in a circular motion.
- White Vinegar – This product, which contains acetic acid, should be bought by the gallon. It is great for everything from removing clothing stains (avoid with delicates) to cleaning product buildup from your hair. But did you know that white vinegar is great for cleaning the toilet? Just pour and let it sit for about 2 hours before brushing the bowl clean. It is also great for neutralizing stains and odors in your coffee maker. Of course, who hasn’t used it as a window cleaner? Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to 2 cups of water in a spray bottle.
- Hydrogen Peroxide – Found in most medicine cabinets and hair color salons, hydrogen peroxide is another versatile product that cleans and disinfects. An active ingredient in the OxyClean family of products and many whitening toothpastes, it lifts stains from colored clothing without bleaching. Combined with baking soda, it is great for brightening sinks and tubs. Spray onto kitchen counters to disinfect. (Always check with the manufacturer before using on stone countertops or appliances. If skin is sensitive, use gloves.) The by-products of oxidation are oxygen and water. It doesn’t get any more earth-friendly than that.
The next time you’re tempted to run out and purchase the latest toilet bowl cleaner, remember that you just might have what you need at home right now. There’s no time like the present to begin living clean.