Green cleaning tips

So I have a couple of posts in the works, but I haven’t had the time to finish them. I’ve spent the last couple of days doing stuff with the kids and trying to get the house somewhat picked up. Tim has a saying, “Cleaning the house while the kid are growing is like shoveling the walk while it’s still snowing.” It is so true. And my house is far from clean or perfect. In fact, it’s really messy and I’m behind on laundry (again!) and there are toys and random grown-up things – like screwdrivers, screws, a cat carrier, mail, measuring tape – everywhere. So anyway, the house and kids need some attention and I have no idea when I’ll finish the other posts I’m working on.

The good news is that I still have something to post about! While I was cleaning, I thought of how much I love cleaning naturally*. Not only is it good for the environment and our septic tank, it’s also much, much cheaper. And since you use the same few ingredients to clean everything, it doesn’t take up much room. I mostly use the following things for cleaning: baking soda, vinegar, peroxide, castile soap, and essential oils. The essential oils are optional, but some of them, such as tea tree oil, are anti-microbial. In a pinch, peroxide will work and it is cheaper (though you only use a few drops of tea tree oil at a time, so it does last long and is worth the money if you can afford it).

Baking soda and vinegar are by far the best green cleaners on the planet. Sure, you can buy “green” cleaners at the store, but why? Most people have baking soda and vinegar in their pantry. They are cheap and easy and you don’t have to baby-proof a whole cabinet of cleaning supplies. Baking soda is great for cleaning sinks, showers, and toilets. You just pour some in a dry sink and rub it around. Sometimes a little tiny bit of water helps. If your sink is really dirty, you can see and feel the baking soda getting the dirt or soap scum out as you rub it around. Or so I’ve heard. After you have rinsed out the baking soda, you can spray with diluted vinegar. I don’t usually do that, but it does help with any germs and if you dry it off it will look shiny and clean. I clean the toilet with baking soda and the scrub brush. After that, it is a really good idea to put some peroxide (not bleach because bleach is horrible stuff!) in to kill any germs. I think that’s more important after any kind of illness where the toilet gets a lot of use.

Last week, the kids got lipstick all over our couch. My first word of advice to any parents is to get microfiber everything. Anyway, the lipstick came out of the couch just fine. I sent the kids upstairs to wash the lipstick off their bodies. Then, as things go with children, the lipstick was all over the bathtub. I had already used the Internet to find out how to get lipstick out of things. I found a site that recommended baby powder, which I happened to have. I think plain old cornstarch would work fine, too. The baby powder got the lipstick off the side of the tub (ours is plastic) quite easily and worked just like baking soda does on my sinks.

So today when I was working in the kitchen and standing in front of a stove top that was incredibly greasy, I thought of the lipstick. I already had the baking soda out, so I thought it might work on grease the same way that the cornstarch baby powder did. I am almost embarrassed to tell you how excited I was to find out that it worked just as well to clean the greasy stove top. I noticed later that there was a little baking soda reside left, so I mixed up some white vinegar and water and dipped a rag in it to clean off the reside. It’s almost as clean as the day we got it and with very little effort on my part.

Back to the microfiber: Our couch looks dirty and stained, but it can be cleaned in a pinch with a solution of peroxide, baking soda, and a tiny bit of dish soap. We used a formula of that to get cat pee out of the couch and it worked like a charm. It also works well on beds that have been peed in. It gets out the smell and any stains. Of course, saturating is best and worked really well in Phoenix. I guess it would work in a humid climate, but it would take much longer to dry. However, if you saturate the stain and it is still wet, you can use baking soda to absorb the moisture, since it is good at that, too. Oh, and you can sprinkle baking soda on your carpet to get smells out as well.

So here are my tips:

  1. If you want to start cleaning green, buy baking soda, vinegar, and peroxide in bulk.
  2. Baking soda and/or cornstarch work well to get out greasy stains, such as lipstick or olive oil.
  3. Baking soda works to get smells out of carpets and beds, as a slightly abrasive cleaner for soap scum and dirt, and to absorb water.
  4. A mixture of baking soda and peroxide will work well to get out odors and stains, though you might want to test it on fabric before using.
  5. You can also use baking soda and vinegar on your hair, and you can read more about that here and here.

*I realize that some of my readers probably already do this kind of natural cleaning. It’s not new and I didn’t think of it on my own, but I am excited about it. I found a couple of new uses for baking soda this week and I just feel the need to share. They might come in particularly helpful to those of you who have kids or will have kids soon.

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2 Responses to “Green cleaning tips”

  1. Terri Says:

    How much cornstarch, peroxide and dish soap do you use to get out stains? Should it be something that get sprayed on a stain or rubed on?
    My son got lipstick all over the couch today. I’m going to start with just cornstarch and see what happens. I hope it works!

  2. A (mostly) sustainable birthday party « A Hippy Girl in the Country Says:

    […] OK, time to wake up from the dream and be realistic. Maybe someday this will work for a birthday party, but not this year. Tim and Tom have both been working long hours and my mother-in-law is sick. I’ve had to pick up the house and the outside and do the cleaning with only a little bit of help. In fact, it’s still not quite done. I’ve been picking up one room at a time, but of course the rooms get messed up again quickly. It’s unrealistic to expect the kids to not get toys out for two days or to not make messes. And we still need to use the house until the party. So it won’t be perfectly picked up and clean, but it will be better than it was. And, as always, the house cleaning is done without chemicals, mostly using vinegar and baking soda. […]

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