Greener BeeGreen TipsHow to keep things clean and still go green

Have you been contemplating how to keep your home clean while simultaneously reducing the number of harmful chemicals used to clean it? Then green cleaning may be for you.

Between pollen, dust and the everyday dirt of three children and a husband, I find it challenging to keep things clean. Using healthy cleaners to reach this goal makes it even more of a challenge. Let’s consider a few things as we make this decision.

The reasons for replacing your current cleaning products with healthier alternatives may vary. Health concerns generally top the list. You or a member of your family may have respiratory problems, like allergies or asthma, that can be aggravated by the use of cleaning products.

Reducing the number of cleaners you use can help improve your home environment. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids.” VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short-term and long-term adverse health effects.

The use of green cleaners also can help us simplify our products. The average U.S. household uses about 40 pounds of chemical cleaning supplies each year at a cost of about $600 a year. You can make your own cleaning products and save a lot of money.

In fact, many of our elders used green cleaning prior to it being called “green.” I vividly remember my grandmother using vinegar to clean mirrors, windows and chandeliers. I also know she had to stretch her dollars and this helped. Using homemade cleaners allows you to use familiar, less toxic ingredients. Making your own multipurpose cleaner can reduce costs as well as the number of chemicals in your home.

Making your own

Here are two of my favorite green cleaning recipes to get you started.

All-Purpose Cleaner

3 tablespoons white vinegar

½ teaspoon washing soda

½ teaspoon vegetable oil-based liquid soap

2 cups hot water

Mix ingredients in spray bottle or bucket. Apply and wipe clean.

Fragrant Kitchen Cleanser

2 tablespoons white vinegar

2 pints water

4 drops essential oil (lavender, tea tree oil, lemon, lemongrass or rosemary)

Combine ingredients in spray bottle and use as a final rinse after cleaning kitchen surfaces. Store in a cool, dark place.

For more green cleaning recipes visit fcs.uga.edu/extension/home-publications.

Buying green products

Another option is to purchase green products. They are more convenient, and are fairly reasonably priced and easy to find in grocery stores.

When purchasing, keep in mind the term “green” does not always mean that the product uses less harmful chemicals or is safer for the environment. It is up to you to protect yourself from being misled by false claims. This means that you should not believe everything you hear in advertisements. Research the product to find out what the active ingredients are.

A quick word about air fresheners. Placing a bowl of white vinegar on top of the refrigerator to absorb unpleasant kitchen odors can reduce unpleasant smells in your home. Don’t worry, the vinegar smell dissipates shortly after putting it out. I also use this method when frying fish or cooking other pungent foods. Other options are to simmer cinnamon sticks and/or cloves in a pan of water.

Start today and join me in making a change in your cleaning habits.


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