[green cleaning]

April 3, 2012

Before you starting thinking "Oh there goes Emily jumping on the Green Wagon", let me explain myself. 

For quite some time I thought the whole "green" movement was hokey. I have never wanted to "save the whales", not that I have anything against them. I've also never been arrested in the middle of a protest because I thew my body on some baby seal trying to save it, or been maced while I was handcuffed to a tree. Al Gore can say what he wants about Global Warming, but in Louisiana I just can't tell a difference - it is just hot. 

I have however been the broke graduate student, who is now a teacher and married to a graduate student who has in-turn made up broke for just a bit longer. And when I say broke I am referring to the fact that we owe more in student loans than my parents paid for their house in the 80's; moved across the state so Jeremy could attend a specialist program with a very strict budget only to have one car show itself to be a lemon and see our paid off perfectly running Mustang be attacked from behind and deemed totaled. We went from tight fisted to sewing our pockets shut in an attempt to survive the next 3 years in a lifestyle remotely resembling our lives in North Louisiana. 

To add to that I have allergies out the wazoo. Oak trees are my arch enemy, and I have to decide between a clean house and feeling like a have a bad cold all day simply because I decided the fans needed dusting. Somehow this led me to slowly explore the world of green cleaning. 

409 hasn't been around forever, and our great grandmothers had clean houses - probably cleaner than the houses we live in. They didn't spend hundreds of dollars on cleaning supplies and their babies didn't die when they washed their clothes in something other than Dreft. Everyone has skin allergies or something wrong with them, and honestly I think it has to do with all the expensive chemicals we are bombarding ourselves with. 

I mean serisouly, I try to eat healthy. So why am I not doing other things "healthy"? So without further rambling here are a few of the green cleaning things I have implemented in our household, what I think about them, and how well they work. I usually feel like I am in the middle of a science experiment with these, or making illegal drugs, but so what it is fun. [I'll explain why I use things at the end of the post]

All-Purpose Cleaner:
2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp hydrogen peroxide
2 tbsp vinegar
1 c hot water
20 drops tea tree oil

Pour all ingredients into a spray bottle and let it foam. Once it settles fill the bottle up the rest of the way with cold water.

What I think of it - this is a great counter top cleaner. I also use it to clean up any dog messes and it really takes away the urine smell. It doesn't leave a funny residue on things like most cleaners tend to do, at least on my counter top. 

Mopping Solution:
1 c vinegar
1 cap full of tea tree oil
1/4 c baking soda
1 tbsp of castile soap or mild dish soap (don't blow money on castile if you have dish  soap, the point is to save money)

Mix ingredients together and all 1 gallon of hot water. This mixture should be used per gallon. 

What I think of it - this works really well on our tile floors. I would suggest looking for a different recipe if you have wood flooring. No residue left, and got the gunk out of the unsealed grout, along with pet odor. 

Laundry detergent:
makes 288 loads(1 Oxy Clean scoop per load)
1 4 lb 12 oz box Borax (2.15 kg or 76 oz) 

1 4 lb box Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (1.81 kg)
1  box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda 55 oz (3 lb 7 oz)
3 bars of Fels-Naptha soap
2 small containers of Oxy Clean or store brand(3.5 lbs total)

Grate Fels-Naptha by hand, or I used my food processor grater. Combine with all other ingredients and store in a air tight container.

What I think of it - Love it! It works just as well as the expensive brands and cost $20 for a whole year worth of detergent. Detergent has a tendency to make me itchy and I have had none of the itchiness I tend to get. 

microfiber cloth

Dampen cloth in vinegar and dust as usual. 

What I think of it - this worked great in comparison to the feather duster I usually use. The dust stayed in the cloth and I wasn't just moving it around. Don't go out and buy microfiber though, I just snatched this cloth out the the husbands car washing stuff. 

Oven Cleaner:
Baking soda

Sprinkle baking soda on stove top or in over, wet a sponge with vinegar and scrub away. 

What I think of it - it gets hard gunked on things off without the harsh chemical smell. If the junk is cemented on too bad spray vinegar on ahead of time and let it sit before scrubbing. 

Ringworm Treatment:
apple cider vinegar
cotton ball
band-aid or medical adhesive tape
tea tree oil

There are two ways to treat this 1) lightly dampen a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar, place over infected area, and tape down with band-aids or medical tape. Leave on overnight. In the morning remove and wash area. Dab tea tree oil onto ring worm with another cotton ball. Repeat until area is clear. May take up to 2 weeks. 2) Do the same as above but only leave apple cider on for 30 minutes at a time for one or two times a day. 

What I think of it - I came across this last summer after getting a ring worm, not realizing it and taking steroids for a sinus infection - and thus creating a super ringworm that would not go away after 2 rounds of hard core meds. [ I was sick as a dog from this medicine and it didn't hardly work] I discovered these two treatments separately and smashed them together. Within 2 weeks the ringworm was hardly noticeable. The vinegar will burn your skin, but only the infected area. It does hurt a little after a few uses, but this works better than any oral prescription or over the counter cream I have tried. 

Home Deodorizer:
sliced lemon [or lemon juice, whatever your have]
few tsp of vanilla extract
fresh or dried rosemary

All all of the ingredients to a pot and simmer. Make sure to check the water often, I burned this one once. 

What I think of it - It make the house smell amazing and I could actually enjoy it. The usual air fresheners make me *literally* sick. I can't take credit for this one though, I found it on Pinterest here

Now for why I use the products I use:
Baking soda - abrassive, deodorizing, and I have heard it balances pH levels. I will is a great scrubber and helps to eliminate pet odors. Plus I like to watch it fizz up. 
Vinegar - great for killing most mold, bacteria, and germs.
Tea Tree Oil - this essential oil fights not just bacteria, but fungi and viruses. It can also be used to treat acne, warts, blisters, and insect bites. 
Apple Cider Vinegar - this helps to kill the fungus and also relieve itching. 

What are your green cleaning tips?