Go Green While You Spring Clean! 6 Eco-Friendly Cleaning Alternatives for Your Home.
Is there anything better than getting rid of winter dust bunnies and grime after months of cold-weather hibernation? Annual spring cleaning is a pastime people traditionally participate in worldwide. However, many commercial cleaning solutions are made with harmful chemicals that pose a risk to you, your family, your pets, and the environment.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), alkylphenol ethoxylates in surface cleaners can disrupt the endocrine system, while phosphorus and nitrogen may negatively impact water quality.
As you begin spring cleaning your home this year, better protect the planet and your health with these six eco-friendly cleaning alternatives.
1. Baking Soda
If you ask your grandmother, baking soda is the best natural ingredient for homemade cleaning solutions. Baking soda has robust cleaning capabilities for removing stains, sanitizing and polishing surfaces, cutting through grease, and deodorizing smelly areas of your home.
You may want to consider a few combinations when cleaning with baking soda. First and foremost, mixing baking soda with water is the best chemical-free way to clean surfaces in your kitchen. After all, it’s the same baking soda you use in cooking.
Do you remember back in school when you mixed baking soda and vinegar to create a volcanic reaction? The same fizzy combination is ideal for cleaning clogged drains. Baking soda and vinegar lie on opposites sides of the pH scale, releasing a carbon dioxide gas capable of lifting dirt when mixed.
2. White Vinegar
How often do you use the bottle of white vinegar sitting in your pantry? If the answer is “not often,” then there’s a way to put it to good use. White vinegar is a powerful and natural cleaning solution for you to use this spring.
Interestingly enough, mixing white vinegar and baking soda is ideal for getting rid of mildew in your bathroom shower and on your floor tiles.
On its own, you can fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spray the areas where mildew appears. Allow it to sit for a few hours before wiping it down with a moist towel.
If mildew remains, combine three parts baking soda with one part water to create a paste and apply it to the mold. Respray white vinegar and let the solution sit. Then, use a bristled brush to scrub the affected area. Repeat as necessary until the mildew is gone.
A word of caution: Never mix vinegar with bleach, as the mixture creates a lethal chlorine gas. In 2016, the American Association of Poison Control Centers recorded over 6,300 cases of chlorine gas exposure, about 35% of which were due to combining household chemicals.
Lemons contain natural acidity, making them natural, freshly scented cleaning agents. When mixed with other ingredients such as water, distilled vinegar, or sea salt, lemons can wipe away microwave gunk and remove tarnishes from pans.
Microwave lemon or lemon rinds in a bowl with about 1/2 cup of water until the water begins to boil. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before opening the door. The steam will make wiping away built-up crusty foods and spills easier.
You could also make your own furniture polish by mixing two parts vinegar, two parts olive oil, and one part lemon juice in a bowl. Wipe away dust with a soft hand towel. However, you’ll want to be extra careful with this homemade combination. Test it first on a small, hidden section of your furniture to ensure it doesn’t ruin the finish.
Other ways to clean with lemons include eliminating refrigerator odors, deodorizing your garbage disposal in your kitchen sink, or adding a couple of sliced lemons to the top rack of your dishwasher when you run a load.
4. Rubbing Alcohol
Isopropyl alcohol – also known as rubbing alcohol – is a standard household product with various uses. Of course, you should always keep safety in mind, as it can cause harm if you ingest it or lead to an allergic reaction. It’s also highly flammable and should be kept away from an open flame.
Despite the safety precautions, rubbing alcohol effectively cleans blinds, makeup brushes, sinks, chrome surfaces, and stainless steel. It’s also an excellent disinfectant and can be used to get rid of germs on your mobile phone or computer mouse and keyboard.
If you plan to use rubbing alcohol as a surface cleaner, keep it away from quartz or granite countertops, which are porous. Instead, you can spray it on laminate or sealed marble.
You might also have luck using rubbing alcohol to remove permanent marker stains and stickers. Saturate the stain or sticker in rubbing alcohol for a few minutes. Either wash the clothing right away or wipe the sticker off with ease.
Borax is a natural salt used as a cleaning product for centuries. You can typically purchase a box of borax in the detergent aisle at the grocery store. Borax comes as fine, white crystals which are dissolvable in water and safe to use on walls and wallpaper.
Although borax is technically naturally occurring, it can still pose serious threats to human and animal health and should not be ingested or inhaled. Symptoms of hazardous borax exposure include skin or eye irritation, gastrointestinal problems, reproductive issues, kidney failure, or toxic shock.
Like any cleaning agent, be sure to use gloves while handling borax and make sure open wounds are covered. Dilute it with water and avoid contact with your eyes, nose, and mouth.
In addition to its cleaning properties, borax can tackle mold, pests, and odors. It’s also sometimes included in cosmetics ingredients to prevent bacteria growth in shampoos, body wash, and makeup.
Since cornstarch is often used in cooking, you can rest assured it’s safe to use for cleaning.
Use cornstarch to clean glass surfaces such as windows and doors. It can also be mixed with white vinegar to clean stains from rugs and carpeting.
Mix a tablespoon each of cornstarch and white vinegar to create a paste, then apply it to the stain. Allow the solution to harden for up to two days, depending on how big the stain is. Scrape the hardened paste away with a butter knife and vacuum the area.
Although this method may take a few repetitions, it can effectively remove difficult stains after applying another cleaning solution.
Cleaner Alternatives for Greener Solutions
Alternative cleaning agents are safer for the environment, humans, and pets. While ingredients like lemon and borax are naturally occurring, it’s essential to protect your skin and face when using them. As you begin spring cleaning your house, consider these greener cleaning solutions. Just remember to be cautious when mixing certain substances.