Green Tip 34--Dirt Cheap Green Clean

Hocking Hills, OH – Last week's green tip featured green cleaning products found at local co-ops, health stores, grocers or available online and by catalogue. One of the most frequently asked questions about green cleaners is, "but, aren't they really expensive?" My response-- "while some green cleaners may be more expensive, many equal out or are less expensive because they are concentrated. Being cautious of how much product slips or sprays out saves money (many people over spray)." Finally, what is the cost/benefit to your personal health and the health of the environment? For those people wanting to help the environment and improve personal health on a "dirt cheap budget", then make homemade cleaning supplies. Making green cleaning supplies is the best solution for the environment since most recipes have water as a main ingredient and use typical, inexpensive, easy-to-find household items. Also, by reusing your spray bottles and buckets, you contribute less to the waste stream (not as many plastic bottles).

The following recipes come from a variety of sources including the Green Hotel Association, Green America, U.S. EPA and "A Real Life". There are many great and simple ideas for homemade cleaners. Many have the same ingredients but different proportions. These cleaners may be used in residential and commercial settings.

--1 part baking soda, 2 parts Borax (punch holes in a jar lid for sprinkling). OR --Baking soda and/or vinegar.
For both of these mixtures sprinkle on sink, tub, toilet and scrub with sponge, rag or toilet scrubber.

Carpet Cleaners/Fresheners:
--Fill a bottle full of baking soda. Add a touch of cinnamon, cloves or other favorite spice. Mix and sprinkle on carpet, leave for 15 minutes and then vacuum (DON'T USE DARK SPICES ON LIGHT CARPET). OR
--Liberally sprinkle baking soda on carpet, wait 15 minutes and vacuum.
--Use steam cleaner with just hot water, no cleaner.

Drain Cleaner:
--plunger or plumber's snake

Furniture (dusting/polishing):
--Wet microfiber cloth or rag and then wring very well. Wipe off furniture. Follow-up with a dry rag if necessary.
--Mix 1 TBS lemon juice in 1 Pint of mineral or vegetable oil (furniture polish). OR
--Mix 1 part lemon juice with 2 parts vegetable oil (furniture polish). OR
--Mix cup vinegar with cup olive oil in a pint of water (furniture polish). OR
--Mix vinegar with olive oil (how much you need)/(furniture polish).
For the last 4 mixtures, wipe furniture with rag.

General (countertops, floors, walls, carpets, upholstery):
--1/2 C Borax with 1 Gallon water. OR
--1 QT warm water, 1 TSP liquid soap, 1 TSP Borax, C undiluted white vinegar

--Wet microfiber cloth, wring very well. Wipe windows. Rinse to remove dirt (this is what I do and there is no cost but the reusable microfiber cloth). OR
--50/50 vinegar and water mixture. To avoid streaks, put a little dishwashing soap in the vinegar spray the first time to remove chemicals and wax from old cleaner. OR
--Mix 1 TBS vinegar or lemon juice in 1 Qt of water. Spray on windows and use newspaper to dry.

Hard Water Stains:
--Straight vinegar on cloth, soak item or put baggie around.

--16 C baking soda, 12 C Borax, 8 C castile or glycerin soap flakes. Combine and whisk. Add 3 TBS lavender, lemon, or grapefruit essential oil (found at health stores). Use 1/8 C/load. OR
--1 C pure soap flakes/powder, 2-4 TBS washing soda. Use 2 TBS/load soft water. Use 4 TBS/load hard water.

Laundry Stain Removers:
--add C vinegar to wash cycle. OR
--soak fabrics in water mixed with either Borax, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar.

--Spray straight vinegar on mildew, use toothbrush to gently agitate and wipe off. Sit longer for stubborn stains.

Mothball replacement:
--cedar chips, lavender flowers, rosemary, mint or white peppercorns

--Put 3% hydrogen peroxide, let sit, agitate with old toothbrush and rinse.

Wood Floors Cleaner:
--Italian carpenters say use straight warm water (I've done it 8 years-- it works). OR
--First keep dirt off floor with fine broom and or vacuum brush. Then clean with vinegar and water mixture once per week.

With the tough economic times we face, it may not be a bad idea for individuals, businesses and institutions (all kinds) to try out some of these cleaning solutions. These solutions have been around for generations. They are what many of our parents and grandparents cleaned with.

Byline Bio: Gwen Corbett, Bear's Den Cottages, Green Lodging
Helping Individuals and Businesses Go Green