Environmentally-Friendly Cleaning Tips

Whether you’re looking to get your new place squeaky-clean before moving in, to clean up an old rental, or simply to keep your current abode sparkly and sanitary, there are always eco-friendly ways to go about it. Here are a few pointers for cleaning up without dirtying the environment.

The four key (surprisingly simple) cleaners are vinegar, salt, lemon juice, and baking soda.

  1. WINDOWS AND MIRRORS can be cleaned with a mixture of lemon and water (about 4 tbsp. lemon juice to ½ gallon of water), or a mixture of vinegar and water (3 parts water, 1 part vinegar). To save on paper-towel and avoid streaks, use scrunched-up newspaper instead: it works very well!
  2. FURNITURE POLISH is usually terrible for the environment and has an unpleasant smell. A good alternative is mixing 2 parts olive oil with 1 part lemon juice and rubbing the mixture into wooden furniture with a rag or paper-towel. The result is restored shine and a light smell far more pleasant than that of harsh chemicals.
  3. TO GET RID OF THE SMELL OF PAINT (which lingers in a room far too long after a fresh job), it is smart to keep small dishes of vinegar around the room. The vinegar absorbs the odour while you paint and lessens the smell. Keep the dishes around for a few days after the job is done, changing the vinegar each day. This is especially useful if you have a small baby and are concerned about harmful fumes.
  4. TO REVAMP OLD BRASS AND COPPER, avoid using store-bought metal polish! There are many ammonia-free, DIY alternatives:
    • You can mix salt and vinegar and rub down tired-looking brass/copper
    • Cut a lemon in half and salt it, then rub down the copper/brass piece
    • For a more thorough polishing, make a paste from equal parts salt, vinegar, and flour. Rub the paste onto the item, then apply an even layer onto the surface and let dry for about an hour. Wipe off the dried paste with a clean cloth and admire the shine!

      For all of the above techniques be sure to thoroughly wash away any salt residue from copper, as it will go green.
  5. FIREPLACES AND CHIMNEYS require occasional cleaning by professionals, but a clever way to buy more time between visits is to occasionally add a handful of salt to the blaze when you light a fire: this will help loosen up soot build-up and grime, making the chimney easier to clean, and in need of less-frequent attention.
  6. FLOORS (ceramic tile, linoleum, vinyl, or wood) can be cleaned with 1 gallon of warm water and 1 cup of vinegar. This no-rinse solution disinfects, adds shine, and removes greasy buildup. (Wood floors do not need to be soaked in the mixture: wring out your mop thoroughly and use a light touch).
  7. SHINE VINYL OR LINOLIUM FLOORS with straight club soda (this sounds very silly, but it is effective!)


For more green cleaning ideas and recipes follow this link to davidsuzuki.org (with access to a very useful PDF) Happy cleaning! http://www.davidsuzuki.org/publications/resources/2011/green-cleaning-recipes/  

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