Green Housing

Cleaning

Many store-bought cleaners are made with strong artificial fragrances and harsh chemicals like bleach, ammonia, and acids. They fill the air you breathe with toxins that can irritate your eyes and lungs. By cleaning often with non-toxic cleaners, you can reduce your exposure to harsh chemicals, pest allergens, and other pollutants found hidden in dust. The following section provides recipes for natural cleansers.

Cleaners

  • Wipe wood surfaces with a natural wood soap which can be made by combining one part white vinegar to one part vegetable or mineral oil; add a few drops of lemon oil for fragrance.
  • Glass cleaner can be made by combining ¼ white vinegar with 2 cups of water. Put the mixture into a spray bottle.  Windows can be scrubbed with newspaper since the newspaper eliminates streaking.
  • Clean the bathtub by halving one medium grapefruit and sprinkle with salt, then sprinkle salt over the bathtub.  Simply scrub, and when finished, rinse the grapefruit pulp from your shower or bathtub with water.
  • Tarnished silver can be cleaned by rubbing with a little bit of toothpaste and a cloth.
  • Baking soda and water can remove stains and clean dirty appliances. 
  • General stains, grease streaks and mildew can be removed by spraying the surface with lemon juice or vinegar mixed with some water.  Let it sit for a few minutes then scrub with a stiff brush or sponge.
  • Drains can be unclogged by pouring ½ cup of baking soda into the drain followed by 2 cups of boiling water.  If clog persists, pour another ½ cup of baking soda in the drain followed by ½ cup of vinegar. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.  Flush with boiling water.
  • Toilet bowls can be cleaned by sprinkling with baking soda and then drizzle with white vinegar. Let soak for 30 minutes and scrub with a toilet brush.
  • Harwood floors can be cleaned by combining ¼ cup white vinegar with 30 ounces (a little less than 4 cups) of warm water into a spray bottle.  Spray on a cotton cloth and wipe down the floors.
  • Boil lemons or cinnamon sticks for a natural air freshener.
  • To remove smells from carpets or rugs, sprinkle cornstarch, let it sit for 30 minutes, then vacuum it up.
Stain removal
  • Remove a juice or wine stain by coating the stained area liberally with salt or cornmeal.  Allow it to dry and then brush or vacuum off the salt/cornmeal. If the stain persists, mix 1 tablespoon of white vinegar with ½ cup of water, pour the solution onto the stain, and then blot with a clean cloth.  Club soda can also be blotted on the stain.
  • To remove chewing gum, freeze the gum using an ice cube, then remove as much of it as possible by hand.  For any gum that remains, follow the steps for crayon removal.
  • For crayon marks, remove as much of the loose wax as possible by hand.  Place a sheet of paper on the stain, then iron the paper with a warm iron. Shift the paper to a clean section and repeat, until the crayon has melted and transferred to the paper.  Crayon on walls can be removed with a sponge soaked in white vinegar.
  • For chocolate stains, soak the garment in cold water then apply a paste as for grass. A persistent stain may require two applications.
  • Grass stains can be removed by mixing 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 teaspoons of water to make a paste.  Rub the paste into the stain. Allow to dry, then vacuum or brush it off.
  • Dirt can be removed by rubbing natural liquid dish soap into the stain.  Allow the garment to sit overnight, then wash normally.
  • Pen marks can be erased with an ink eraser.
  • Blood can be removed by either washing the garment in cold water, or, if not it’s washable, carefully blotting the item with a minimum amount of cold water.
  • Urine can be removed by making a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water.  Blot the stain, then soak the garment in warm water or machine wash it.
Pest control
  • Reduce clutter in your home so pests won’t have a place to live – stack papers neatly; throw away old towels and rags; hang clothes in your closet or keep folded in their drawers; store open foods, such as cereal, flour and rice, in containers with a lid.
  • Use safer pest control products and avoid spray pesticides. Use glue traps or box traps for mice, and sticky traps, gels or bait stations for cockroaches.
  • Repair holes, crack and plumbing so pests cannot enter your home – ask your landlord or superintendent to make repairs; use boric acid powder under floor moldings, cracks or holes in the wall; seal the floor and walls with caulking compound or metal screens; fix plumbing leaks since dripping water attracts pests.
  • Practice family teamwork to keep your home free of pests by eating all meals and snacks in the same room, washing dishes and wiping down counters after meals, and taking out the garbage every day.