Green Cleaning 101

Go au naturel (with your cleaning supplies!!) the next time you want your house to sparkle

Photo by iStock

Create a green-cleaning arsenal with stuff you’ve got kicking around the house. These homemade products might not smell like a spring breeze, but they’re planet-friendly and kid-safe. And you’ll grow to love the scent of good ol’ white vinegar, I promise.

Scrub sinks, toilets, tubs and countertops
What to use:
Vinegar and baking soda
How to use: Sprinkle baking soda in toilets and sinks, on tiles or in your kitchen sink, then spray with pure vinegar and scrub. The acetic acid in the vinegar reacts with the bicarbonate soda to create carbon dioxide, resulting in a satisfying fizz (remember those volcanoes in school?).

Wipe windows and mirrors
What to use: Vinegar and water
How to use: Spray your windows and mirrors with a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar then wipe with newspaper, not paper towels—they’ll leave streaks.

Disinfect surfaces
What to use: Water and tea tree oil
How to use: Fill a spray bottle with water and add in 20 or 30 drops of tea tree oil. Use the solution to disinfect your kitchen and bathroom, or to wash floors.
(Warning: tea tree oil is toxic if swallowed)

Clean ovens and greasy messes
What to use: Kosher salt, baking soda and water
How to use: Make a paste of coarse-grained salt, baking soda and warm water and scrub with a sponge or an abrasive pad, preferably while the oven is still warm. Or you can simply pour salt onto the mess and scrub away.

Unclog drains
What to use: Baking soda, vinegar and boiling water
How to use: Pour a cup or so of baking soda down the drain, chase it with a half-cup of vinegar and put in the plug. Wait for about 30 minutes, then pour a kettle-full of boiling water down the drain.

Polish furniture
What to use: Vinegar and olive oil
How to use: Some folks recommend using straight olive oil with a squeeze or two of lemon to polish wood furniture, but that can leave it feeling a little slick. Instead, add four or five drops of olive oil to a quarter-cup of vinegar. Apply with a soft flannel rag.

Remove carpet stains and deodorize
What to use: Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda
How to use: Knocked over a brimming glass of red wine on the carpet? Don’t panic. Gently blot up as much liquid as you can, then spray the area with hydrogen peroxide (vinegar works, too). Douse the stain with baking soda, let sit for a few minutes, then dab with cold water or club soda. Repeat as many times as necessary. Throwing salt on a fresh stain will also keep the wine from setting. If you’re looking to chase pet odours from your carpets, sprinkle them with baking soda, let sit for 15 or 20 minutes, then vacuum.

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