Water Wednesday: Clean Counters, Clean Water

25 Green Household Cleaning Recipes

Who doesn’t dread cleaning day?  There are a hundred things I would rather do than clean, but alas it must be done.  However, sometimes when we clean we also pollute our waterways.  When we clean our sinks, toilets, showers and tubs, all the chemicals and industrial cleaners have the potential to end up in our waterways. I think there is an assumption that to really get something clean you need to use harsh chemicals and antibacterial products. In fact, there are many household items that you already have in your home that are much less toxic and are still great cleaning agents.

It seems that nowadays there are hundreds of products to clean different parts of your house.  There’s a cleaner for your oven, a separate one for your countertops, a special formula for your sinks and showers, and yet another for your toilets.   The list goes on and on and your cupboard gets fuller and fuller.   But did you know that you can get all of that cleaning with just a few items?   If you have some baking soda, vinegar/lemon juice and tea tree oil you have all the fixings for a clean, healthy home.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a wonderful multipurpose cleaner.   You can use it to hand wash dishes by mixing a tablespoon of baking soda with the juice of ½ a lemon in a sink of hot water.   You can use it to clean your sinks and counter tops (it can remove stains and polish granite, too).   It can banish smells in trash cans and refrigerators as well help clean your laundry.   It can clean your toilets when mixed with a little white vinegar.  One of our staff members even made an air freshener by placing baking soda in a jar and adding her favorite essential oil.   A great book called Baking Soda by Diane Sutherland is a great resource for ways to use baking soda.   You can Google search cleaning with baking soda to find the best recipes to suit your cleaning needs.

Vinegar/Lemon Juice

The high acidity levels in vinegar and lemon juice make them effective cleaners and antiseptics.   Vinegar has dozens of household and garden uses including cleaning countertops, windows and bathroom surfaces.   You can also add vinegar to your wash to boost cleaning or remove odors by leaving vinegar out in your kitchen overnight.  If you are concerned about your home smelling like vinegar, don’t worry.   The smell should dissipate within and hour or you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to your vinegar/water solution. Also, one Baykeeper has found that apple cider vinegar is equally effective for banishing odors without the harsh small of white vinegar.

Lemon juice can also be used to clean countertops and bathroom fixtures.  You can actually cut a lemon in half and rub it on your shower handle to remove hard water spots (if you do this, please test in a small area….if you have a special finish it may alter the appearance).  Again, you can find dozens of websites that will give you more details and recipes for vinegar and lemon cleaners.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a wonderful anti-fungal/antiseptic cleaner.   It got me through many years of potty training with my kids.   But it does so much more than disinfect clothes.   Tea tree oil mixed in a spray bottle of water will get rid of mold and must smells.  It will also freshen and inhibit mold in your laundry.   A spray mixture of tea tree oil, water and a little liquid soap will disinfect your counter tops.  It is the little oil that has many purposes.

So there you have it…three household items for your cleaning cupboard rather than a collection of harsh chemicals!   And if making cleaners isn’t your thing, there are also a number of environmentally friendly multi-purpose cleaners like Seventh Generation, Bon Ami and Method.  Many of these (and other earth friendly) products can be found at your local health food store, as well as Target and Winn-Dixie.

Check out more ideas for Earth-friendly cleaning on our Make-A-Difference Month Pinterest Board! http://pinterest.com/mobilebaykeeper/make-a-difference-month/

Good luck with your water-friendly cleaning.  I don’t know about you, but I am actually a little excited about cleaning my counters tonight!

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