Thursday, September 18, 2008

Spring cleaning the green way

Posted by lea at 5:26 PM

With it now being Spring and all (at least in the southern hemisphere), cleaning seems like an appropriate topic to write about at this time. I've been reading a bit about household cleaning chemicals and their long term effects etc, and basically, the outlook's not good. Commercially sold cleaning products often contain chemicals that aren't good for you to breathe in on a daily basis, and are actually toxic to the human body. What's the point of living in a spotless home if it's killing you slowly, eh.

So I did a bit of research and shortlisted my favourite (incidentally the simplest) solutions for a chemical-free, non-toxic, spotless home.

All-purpose cleaner: mix a solution of ½ vinegar and ½ water into a spray bottle

  • this cleaner works on all surfaces including kitchen counters, the bathroom sink, toilets and floors (except stone and marble)
  • also use on windows and mirrors, wiping with a sheet of newspaper for an extra streak-free clean

All-purpose scourer: sprinkle baking soda onto a damp sponge

  • baking soda is a natural scourer that deodorises and scrubs grime including bathtub rings, food deposits in kitchen sinks, inside fridges, etc.
  • for tougher grime, make a paste from baking soda and water, apply to grimy areas and let it sit for 10-20 minutes before cleaning. Even works in grimy ovens – just leave overnight
  • also works on tarnished pots and pans

Furniture polish: mix ½ teaspoon olive oil with ¼ cup vinegar or fresh lemon juice

  • dab on a soft rag and wipe wooden surfaces
  • mixture can be stored indefinitely in a glass jar and shaken before use to blend

Mold and mildew: combine 1tsp tea tree oil with 1 cup of water in a spray bottle

  • shake to blend and spray on problem areas like walls, ceilings, furniture, musty rugs and shower curtains
  • leave and do not rinse – this solution will tackle mold and the eucalyptus smell will dissipate
  • alternatively, simply spray undiluted white vinegar on mold and mildew

Extra tips:

  • to avoid after-shower fog on bathroom mirrors and windows, sprinkle tea tree oil on the surface and wipe with a sheet of newspaper
  • use vinegar instead of commercial fabric softeners in the washing machine – particularly good for sensitive skin
  • leave a container of baking soda in the fridge (open) to absorb smells
  • mint is a natural enemy of ants and mice, so spray distilled spearmint oil or brewed mint tea in nooks, crannies and cracks to keep them away

Bonus for the heavy-duty spring cleaners:

To get rid of mineral deposits clogging your shower head (remember that the water you clean yourself with comes through this metallic fixture after all):

  • place undiluted vinegar in a plastic food storage bag (freezer bag/oven bag etc)
  • place the shower head inside the bag so it's covered by vinegar and secure with a rubber band
  • let it stand for 2hrs or overnight
  • remove bag, rinse the shower head and buff to a shiny finish (and of course, turn your shower on to wash out the vinegar before taking a shower)
Cheers to a clean and healthy season!

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