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Green cleaning: it’s much simpler (and cheaper) than you think!

We hear it everywhere: organic this, green that, natural listening, herbal there. If you’re like me, a busy, working single mom, you may have put off learning about all this ‘green hype’ simply because you don’t have time for one more thing. I understand!

And aside from the issue of time, what about cost? If you go through the grocery store isles of produce and take a good look, I can guarantee you that anything labeled “organic” will cost significantly more than our old pesticide-ridden vegetables!

Well, here is good news. Green doesn’t always have to cost more green.

Let’s take a room-by-room tour of your home – just sit back, read and hopefully you’ll learn how easy it can be to ‘go green’. The best part? Except for the need to buy 2 or 3 bottles of inexpensive essential oils, you probably already have most of these ingredients in your home.

The kitchen and the bathroom

Natural oven cleaners

* 1 cup of salt
* 1/2 cup borax
* 32 ounces of baking soda
* 2 cups of white vinegar

Take a portion of the powder mixture and add a little water to form a paste. Spread on oven surfaces and let rest for 30 minutes. Clean with white vinegar.

2) baking soda, water; Salt; Liquid soap based on vegetable oil. Spray water on the bottom of the oven. Cover with baking soda. Let stand overnight. Clean and apply liquid soap with a scouring pad. Rinse.

3) Spray/spray water followed by a layer of baking soda. Gently rub with a very fine steel wool pad for difficult spots. Wipe off slag with dry paper towels or a sponge. Rinse well and pat dry.

Refrigerators:

To clean exterior and interior walls, dissolve 2 tbsp. baking soda in 1 liter of warm water and clean all surfaces. For stubborn stains, rub with a baking soda paste. Be sure to rinse with a clean, damp cloth. (This also works well on other enamel finish appliances.)

Lavender Antibacterial Spray

This spray smells wonderful and can double as a disinfectant and air freshener. It is perfect for trash cans.

* 1 cup of warm water
* 25 drops of Lavender essential oil

Combine water and oil in a spray bottle and shake well to mix. To use, spray into the air or onto the surface you are disinfecting.

Floor cleaners:

1) A pencil eraser removes heel marks from a floor.

2) For greasy and unwaxed floors:

* 1 cup of vinegar
* 1/4 cup washing up soda
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil-based liquid soap
* 2 gallons of hot water

Combine all ingredients, stirring well to dissolve baking soda. Mop as usual.

Multi-Purpose Cleaners:

1) Vinegar and Salt. Mix to obtain a good surface cleaner.

2) Dissolve 4 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 liter of warm water for a general cleaner.

3) Baking soda on a damp sponge. Baking soda cleans and deodorizes kitchen and bathroom surfaces.

Scouring powders:

Baking soda or dry table salt. These are mild abrasives and can be used as an alternative to chlorinated cleaning powders. Simply put baking soda or salt on a sponge or surface, scrub and rinse.

Non-abrasive mild scrubber:

* 1/4 cup borax
* Vegetable oil-based liquid soap (such as Murphys Oil Soap)
* 1/2 teaspoon lemon oil

In a bowl, mix the borax with enough soap to form a creamy paste. Add lemon oil and mix well. Scoop a small amount of the mixture onto a sponge, wash the surface, then rinse well.

kitchen sink scrubber

* 1/2 cup baking soda
* 1/8 cup vinegar
* 5 drops of lemon essential oil
* 5 drops of orange essential oil

Combine all the ingredients. Try Lime or Bergamot too.

Toilet cleaners:

1) Sprinkle baking soda in the bowl, then spray with vinegar and scrub with a toilet brush. Cleans and deodorizes.

2) Denture tablets are a great substitute for toilet bowl cleaner. Drop two tablets into the container and clean as you would any other toilet bowl cleaner.

Pipe cleaner:

1) For slow drains, use this drain cleaner once a week to keep drains fresh and unclogged.

* 1/2 cup baking soda
* 1 cup of white vinegar
* 1 gallon of boiling water
* 1/2 lemon used

For drain/disposal baking soda, followed by vinegar. Let the mixture foam for several minutes before flushing the drain with boiling water.

2) Another natural drain cleaner

* 1 cup of baking soda
* 1 cup of salt
* 1/4 cup cream of tartar

Place all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously until well mixed. To use, pour 1/4 cup of the mixture down the drain, followed by 2 cups of boiling water. Wait 1 minute, then rinse with tap water.

Tub and tile cleaners:

1) Sprinkle baking soda like a tablespoon of powder. Rub with a damp sponge. Rinse well.

2) To remove film buildup on bathtubs, apply straight vinegar to a sponge and wipe clean. Next, use baking soda as you would a tablespoon of powder. Rub with a damp sponge and rinse well with clean water.

Plumbing accessories:

To clean stainless steel, chrome, fiberglass, ceramic, porcelain, or enamel fixtures, dissolve 2 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 quart of water. Clean the accessories and then rinse.

Mildew remover:

Dissolve half a cup of vinegar with half a cup of borax in warm water.

Mold destroyer:

* 2 teaspoons of Tea Tree essential oil
* 2 cups of water

Add to a spray bottle, shake before use. Apply on mold and mildew, do not rinse. Nothing works better for mold and mildew than Tea Tree.

The living room(s)

Carpets/Upholstery:

1) A great non-toxic carpet stain remover is carbonated water. Soak the stain immediately with soda and blot until the stain is gone.

2) Pet Urine on Carpets: Wipe area with towel to absorb as much as possible, wash stain with liquid dish detergent and rinse with 1/2 cup vinegar diluted in 1 quart warm water. Lay towels or paper towels on the stain and weigh it down to absorb excess moisture. Let sit 4-6 hours, then remove towel, brush off nap and let dry completely. Use an electric fan to speed up drying.

Prayed

Pour in enough baking soda to cover the urine stain very well. Let it sit until moist and lumpy, vacuum.

Furniture polish and anti-scratch covers:

1) This polish should be fresh every time you use it.

* 1 lemon
* 1 Teaspoon of Olive Oil
* 1 teaspoon of water

Extract the lemon juice. Mix with oil and water.

Apply a thin layer to the wood surface and let stand for five minutes. Use a soft cloth to buff to a deep shine.

2) Use 3 parts light mineral oil and 1 part olive oil and a drop of lemon juice.

3) Use a soft cloth and wipe with a little mayonnaise.

4) Rub the furniture with a cloth dipped in cold tea.

5) To remove water stains on wooden furniture, apply white toothpaste to the stain. Allow the paste to dry and then gently wipe it off with a soft cloth.

Natural Dusting Spray

* 100ml of water
* 4-6 drops of Lavender, Lemon, Eucalyptus, Niaouli or Pine

Add water to the spray bottle, then add your chosen essential oil. These bacterial oils leave behind a fresh, clean scent.

Shake well before each use.

Glass cleaners (windows and mirrors):

1) Use undiluted vinegar in a spray bottle or

2) Equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle or

3) 1/2 lemon juice and 2 cups water in a spray bottle or

4) 1/2 cup vinegar or lemon juice, 2 cups water, 1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil-based soap (such as Murphy’s oil soap)

5) Streak-free glass cleaner: 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 quart warm water. Mix ingredients and apply with a sponge or pour into a spray bottle and spray. Dry with crumpled newspaper, polish to a shine. (Use crumpled newspaper instead of paper towels for lint-free results.

Wallpaper cleaner:

1) Roll up a piece of white bread and use it to “erase” marks on the wallpaper

Air Fresheners/Deodorizers:

1) Put the cloves, cinnamon sticks, allspice or other favorite aromatic spice in a pot of water, simmer for 1-2 hours.

2) Place baking soda in an open container of your choice. Good for cabinets, refrigerators, and other small enclosed spaces.

3) 2-3 slices of white bread absorb refrigerator odors

4) Dissolve baking soda in 2 cups hot water, add lemon juice, pour into spray bottle, spray into air as air freshener

5) Put unscented cat litter in bowls to absorb room odors

Vacuum Cleaner and Deodorant

Moisten 3 cotton balls with Lavender essential oil (or your favorite citrus oil, I’m a lemon fan) and place them in your vacuum bag or trash can.

Oil add-on refills

If you use the add-ons that come with the little replaceable oil bottles, here’s something to try next time you get dry. Unplug the unit from the wall and remove the empty oil bottle. Remove the top of the oil bottle and fill with 35-50 drops of your favorite essential oil and the rest with a carrier oil like Sweet Almond. In a pinch, you can use a pure vegetable oil from the kitchen. Replace the top, insert it back into the plugin, and you’re ready to go!

anti-germ wipes

(I love this!)

Mix equal parts lavender, thyme (or tea tree), and eucalyptus. Use it in a spray bottle to clean surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom. Moisten paper towels with this mixture and wipe down surfaces.

Now, aren’t these easy (and cheap) ideas? The next time you run out of Spic N Span or your scented oil plug-in dries up, remember what you learned here. Green cleaning is simple, affordable, and much healthier for your family. And, just a note, you can add a drop or two of essential oils to most of the recipes above. My favorites are lavender and citrus oils for their scent and antibacterial properties, try Tea Tree.

If you don’t have any essential oils on hand, let me recommend the reasonably priced, completely organic Mountain Rose Herbs, which I’ve been ordering from you for years. Happy greening!

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