Spring is on the way, and with it the urge to open the windows and doors and freshen up the house. Before you break out the ammonia and chlorine bleach, take a look at these earth-friendly alternatives. They'll get your home just as clean, without dirtying up the planet in the process.
All Hail the Power of Peroxide
Sophie Uliano of Gorgeously Green turned us on to the many uses of inexpensive, non-toxic hydrogen peroxide. The 3% solution commonly sold in drug stores (and probably sitting in your medicine cabinet already) is excellent for getting rid of mold and mildew and for killing germs and bacteria in the kitchen and bath. Just pour it in a spray bottle and spritz away. A cup of hydrogen peroxide added to the rinse cycle will whiten your laundry, too.
It also makes a great mouthwash and hair highlighter, says Sophie. Check out the how-tos here: http://sophieuliano.com/videos-5-uses/
Rethinking Laundry Day
Whether you're washing whites or colors, make every load green. We recommend cold water washing with Vaska's effervescent Laundry Tablets. Made with food-grade, non-toxic, naturally derived ingredients, they're gentle on your skin and the planet but plenty tough on dirt. For extra stain-banishing power, pre-treat with Vaska's Spot-Off spray.
And, finally, skip the flammable, chemical-drenched dryer sheets. Pop a few Felted Wool Dryer Balls in the dryer with your laundry to decrease drying time, increase fluffiness, soften and reduce static, without reducing the breathability and absorption of your sheets, towels and clothes.
Pitch the Paper Towels
It's hard to break the paper towel habit, especially for cleaning, but our grandparents got their homes squeaky clean with cotton rags, and so can we. Rags are durable, reusable and a great way to give old towels and clothes another life.
For windows, every pro knows that a squeegee beats linty, streaky, wasteful paper towels hands-down. Get one with a scrubby sponge on the other side, to get rid of stubborn stuff (like the thank you notes the birds leave after you fill the feeders). Newspaper works great, too, so if you have a subscription (or find circulars in your mailbox, like it or not), save a stack for spring cleaning day. You can still recycle them afterward.
Stem to Stern Clean
With a little bit of poking around, you can find tons of recipes for creating safe, non-toxic cleaning solutions for every room in your home from white vinegar, baking soda, salt and other common household products.
But if you're not a do-it-yourselfer, we recommend the wonderful, earth-friendly products from Common Good. Their plant- and mineral-derived formulas are effective, green and never tested on animals. They have products to clean your kitchen, bath, windows, floors and even your body. Plus they come in bottles you can refill, either from their bulk-size pump containers or at a Common Good refill station near you.
Got a favorite green cleaning tips, technique or product? Tell us all about it in the comments.