Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Green Machine!

We won't have a society if we destroy the environment.
Margaret Mead

I love finding new home remedies for things! They benefit me in many ways but the main two are they tend to be cheaper, they're typically eco-friendly, and they're typically not harmful like store-bought chemicals (which makes me feel better about using them around my family and pets). (They are also not filled with perfumes or toxins which can be hazardous and smelly--the smells give me headaches cause I'm allergic to fragrances.)

Since moving to England, I've discovered quite a few helpful home remedies. They range from home made facial masks to window cleansers. But today I wanted to focus on the home-cleaning remedies!

I am definitely a believer that today's traditional methods for cleaning the home (or anywhere really) can do more harm than good. A group called the Environmental Working Group is a non-profit that helps consumers make better safer choices in their homes and lives by promoting greener methods and exposing the potentially harmful tools you might have under your kitchen sink. (Did you know many cleaning products might promote or exacerbate your child's asthma? Or your own exzema?)
(They also do the same thing but with cosmetics and skincare products; you should hop onto their website and see how your sunscreen or foundation scores!
So a few tips and things I learned:

1) Dryer sheets often use tallow (animal fat) as an ingredient as well as many other chemicals that can irritate your respiratory tract! I switched to Method which offers Softener Infused Dryer Cloths that use softeners, anti-static agents and fragrance that are all plant-derived. Each sheet can also be reused once! So it reduces litter and adds more bang for your buck.

2) You can clean windows and mirrors with a simple solution of 1/4 Cup vinegar and 1 Quart water (I use filtered water to avoid hard water spots.) I also used this to wipe off the hard water and soap scum off the shower doors. I loved this solution because it was easy and didn't fill my house with the awful fumes other cleaners leave behind--my house smelled just a hint of vinegar which reminded me of pot stickers and dim sum-YUM.
If you notice this formula is leaving streaks, add 1/2 teaspoon of dish soap (I use Seventh Generation) and this will help cut through the residuals waxes left on from past window cleaners. (You can also use this for mopping!)

3) Use baking soda to clean your toilet... Pour some in and let it sit for a bit and scrub.

4) Use baking soda to deodorize your home! Pour some on the carpets before you vacuum, let sit for a while, and then vacuum it up.

5) Mouse problem? If you live in England you might have had a mouse problem... Mice hate the smell of peppermint so hang a few peppermint infused sachets around problem areas or plant peppermint around your house. They also don't like the smell of cedar. (Another solution? Get a cat... or just cat urine. The smell of that keeps them away but probably not an ideal solution.)

6) You can make your own Drano with baking soda and vinegar! Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain. Slowly follow that with a cup of vinegar. Let it fizz for a while then chase that with some hot water.

Happy cleaning!

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