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September 21, 2010

Clean and Green: tools, tips & tricks for tidying up without selling out

ACM_450_Kitchen Did you know that paper and paperboard products (paper towels, tissues, etc) made up 20.7 % of the municipal waste discarded in 2008--more than any other type of refuse? (6,550,000 tons!)

Think about it, every time you clean your house how many paper towels do you go through? What about sponges, disposable mop heads and dust cloths? What about all those harsh chemicals you spray into the air or toss away on a dirty paper towel?

Common household cleaners (including toilet bowl cleaners, air deodorizers, floor cleaners, window cleaners, and some detergents) often contain very toxic chemicals. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, even when used properly, these toxins make their way into the environment through evaporation of volatile components.

One obvious solution is to switch to reusable cleaning products - items like microfiber cleaning cloths, reusable scrub stones and refillable spray bottles. You could also switch to all-natural cleaning products - but those are often expensive and still come in throw-away containers - so we suggest making your own cleaners at home.

It might take a little getting used to - in fact, our photographer Sarah wrote a post on her journey to a "greener" clean earlier this year. (Check out Sarah's video below.) But once you make the switch, you'll marvel at how much money you save on disposables and how much lighter your cleaning-day trash bags become.

As Sarah mentioned in her post, we offer a few kits to get you started making your own all-natural cleaning products at home. In addition, we have a DIY Household Cleaners article in our DIY section, with links to some basic recipes for homemade cleaners. 

Finally, our brand-new DIY playlist on YouTube features videos handpicked by us, demonstrating how to make your own dish soap, bath tub cleaner and more. 

With just a few basic items, a handful of ingredients and a little elbow grease, you'll have an eco-friendly, sparkling clean home in no time. Check out this video of Sarah making DIY cleaners:

DIY Cleaning Solutions with reuseit™ spray bottles from reuseit.com on Vimeo.

Do you know of a great DIY cleaning recipe we should add to our DIY section? Leave us a comment! 


More than 10 years ago, I bought Annie Berthold-Bond's book, Clean and Green, and reading it reinforced what I already knew: I didn't need 17 products (environmentally friendly or not) to clean my house! I learned the basics of nontoxic cleaning and started making most of my cleaning products using a few simple and inexpensive ingredients: white vinegar, baking soda, borax, and essential oils of tea tree and lavender. (BTW, Annie's tips now are publicly available on care2.com!)

My first microfiber cloths and spray bottles have lasted for maybe 10 years, but I also use cut up fabric scraps and knitted cloths for wiping up spills and cleaning, too.

Thanks for bringing this important topic into the limelight!

I think some people just think that being green isn't easy or convenient, but maybe if they started reading and watching videos like this they would understand that it doesn't have to be hard or time consuming. The DIY playlist on youtube is a great idea!

I like the information and videos I find at the Daily Green. http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/latest/green-cleaning-spring-cleaning-460303 This is a link to their Spring Cleaning tips.

If you have a clogged drain but don't want to use harsh chemicals to dissolve it, you can clean it out with a combination of baking soda, vinegar, and hot water, as I learned from Instructables.



I definitely need to give this a try. I've been trying to use green products. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrSTQDVc0tc It's really useful and safe for hands and the environment. Thanks for sharing. Keep posting..

Oh I agree with you. Those who do not like using too much chemicals around the house can use other natural cleaners. Citrus extract is an effective in removing grease. It's safe and effective, can be used around with children and pets. We rely on Minneapolis janitorial services once a moth, though. I think it's about time that we conserve things and do it the natural way. Thanks for the tips, btw!

- Gail Connick

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