Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Your Green Education

My last post gave me inspiration to lay out all the benefits of things we all have in our cupboards and pantries. No need for those harsh chemicals, these are natural solutions to your everyday cleaning needs.

most of this information came from an issue of Real Simple magazine/ April 2009

Vinegar is acidic and can wipe out tarnish, soap scum, mineral deposits, and more. Safe if accidentally ingested

The down low: Distilled white vinegar creates an environment that inhibits the growth of mold, mildew,and some bacteria such as E. coil and salmonella.

coffeemaker: pour equal parts vinegar and water into the machine's water chamber, then switch on the brew cycle. Halfway through turn off the coffee maker and let the solution set for about an hour. Turn it on again to complete the cycle, then run several cycles with clean water

Dishwasher: To disinfect the interior of the machine, pour 1/2 c. vinegar into the reservoir and run an empty cycle, or place a small bowl filled with vinegar on the bottom rack and run an empty cycle.

Drains: Clean drains and pipes by pouring vinegar down them. After 30 minuets flush with cold water.

clogged drains: to clear a clog, p

Floors: Add 1/4 c. vinegar to a bucket of warm water to lean almost any type of floor except for marble or wood as it can scratch or strip them.

Glassware: For spotless hand-washed glasses, add 1 c. vinegar to the rinse water.

Moldy walls: Spray vinegar on the affected areas. After about 15 minuets rinse and let dry thoroughly

Shower heads: To combat mineral deposits, pour vinegar into a plastic grocery bag and knot the handles over the neck of the shower head, securing with rubber bands. Let soak overnight. Rinse with water in the morning.

Steam iron: To get rid of mineral deposits, fill the iron with equal parts vinegar and water; press the steam button. Turn off and let cool, empty, and rinse.

Windows: 1/2 and 1/2 vinegar and water with a squirt of castile soap. (see last post)

Baking Soda

the down low: Baking soda can absorb oders, cuts through grease and grime as well as scours, and is safe to be ingested.

can opener: dip a toothbrush into a paste of 2 Tablespoons baking soda and 1 tsp. water, then scrub

bath tub: Make a paste with baking soda and water. scrub. add vinegar and scrub (it will fizzle, but it helps get up the dirt) rinse.

Stained teacups and coffee mugs: Fill with 1 part baking soda and 2 parts water and soak overnight; rub with a sponge and rinse

upholstered furniture: To remove oders, sprinkle baking soda on fabric, then vacuum

Scuffed Walls: Erase crayon marks by applying a baking soda paste (equal parts baking soda and water) to white painted walls (baking soda may dull colored walls) Let dry before brushing it with a clean cloth.

liquid Castile soap
though milder than the bar you later up with, it can tackle even caked-on mud.

the down low: like other soaps, this plant based version efficiently loosens grime and dirt from surfaces, but it is gentler, so it won't hurt or dull them.

car: mix 1/4 c. liquid castile sop with hot water in a bucket and fill almost to the top. Use to wash then rinse

Floors: You can mop almost any type of floor with a solution of 1/4 c. liquid castile soap and 2 gallons warm water. If the floors are greasy, add 1/4 c. distilled white vinegar to the bucket.

Leather and upholstery: Add 2 drops liquid Castile soap to 1 quart warm water. Apply to the leather with a barely moils sponge

Marble counter tops: Stir 1 Tbsp. liquid Castile soap into 1 quart warm water. Dampen a cloth with the solution and wipe the surface. Rinse, then dry with a clean cloth.

Sinks, showers, Tubs, and ceramic tile: Create a homemade soft scrubber by combining 1 Tbsp. liquid Castile soap and 1/3 c. baking soda.

Stove top and vent hood: Add a few squirts of liquid Castile soap to 2 c. hot water. Apply to he stove top, the burners, and the vent hood to cut through accumulated grease.

Essential Oils:
Leave behind a spotless, deliciously scented room with these multitasking aromatic oils.

The down low: Extracted from plants, some essential oils can kill bacteria and mold. They are strong so don't over do it.

combs and brushes: Fill a container with 1 1/2 c. water and 1/2 c. distilled white vinegar, and 20 drops tea-tree, lavender, or eucalyptus oil. Soak combs and brushes for 20 minuets. Rinse and air dry.

scuffed floors: Apply two to four drops of tea-tree oil to the spots. Wipe excess oil with a cloth and rub in distilled white vinegar.

Gum encrusted items: Orange oil is great at removing this sticky offender from various materials and it shouldn't stain fabrics. Be sure to wash immediately.

Shower doors: Wipe scum-covered glass doors with a few drops of lemon oil twice a month. It will protect them from grime buildup.

Toilets: Add 2 tsp. tea-tree oil and 2 c. water to a spray bottle. Shake, then spritz along the toilet's inside rim. Let sit for 30 minuets; scrub. You can also place a few drops of your favorite oil on the inside of the toilet-paper tube.

Windows: Mix 2 oz water and 10 drops lavender or lemongrass oil to wipe grime off windows. Bonus, these repel flies.

warning: lavender can be toxic to cats

cooking oils
Just a few drops will polish furniture or your leather pumps.

the down low: vegetable and plant-based oils, such as olive and sunflower oil, dislodge dirt, diminish scratches and imperfections, and hydrate wood.

cast-iron pans: make a scrubbing paste with vegetable oil and a tsp. of coarse salt to combat cooked-on debris, then rinse with hot water.

Hands: to get paint off your skin, rub with vegetable oil, then wash thoroughly with soap.

leather shoes: Wipe away dirt with a damp sponge, then apply a drop of vegetable oil to a soft cloth and rub the surface to remove scuff marks. Buff the shoes with a chamois to a shine.

Rattan and wicker furniture: To prevent rattan and wicker form drying or cracking, lightly brush them with vegetable or sunflower oil and gently rub in with a cloth. Warm the oil on the stove first to thin it and make it easier to apply.

stainless-steel surfaces: for sparkle, pour olive oil into a cloth and buff.

Wood Furniture: Make your own polish by mixing 2 c. olive or vegetable oil with the juice of 1 lemon; work it in with a soft cloth. To smooth out scratches in light-colored wood, bub them with a solution of equal parts olive or vegetable oil and lemon juice.

down low: When added to a wash, borax makes detergents even more effective

Baseboards, counter tops, and walls: Dissolve 1/2 c. borax in 1 gal. hot water and pour the solution into a spray bottle (which can be stored in a spray bottle). Spritz generously, wipe down with a damp cloth, and let air dry.

china (including hand painted): soak china in a dishpan filled with warm water and 1/2 c. borax; rinse well

Dishwasher: If the machine is smelling, sprinkle borax in the bottom, let sit overnight, them wipe down with a damp sponge.

Pots and pans: Rub borax into cookware with a damp sponge, rinse well.

Toilet: Pour borax in the bowl and let sit overnight. Swish the bowl a few times with a toilet brush and flush the next day.

The down low: the acid in lemon juice removes dirt and rust stains. It's especially effective when mixes with salt, which makes a great scouring paste.

Counter tops: Dip the cut side of a lemon in half in baking soda to tackle counter tops; wipe with a wet sponge and dry. Don't use on delicate stone like marble or stainless steel (it may discolor)

dishes: To increase the grease cutting power of your dish washing detergent, add a tsp of lemon juice.

faucets: combat lime scale by rubbing lemon juice onto the taps and let sit overnight. Wipe with a damp cloth.

Garbage disposal: cut a lemon in half, then run both pieces through the disposal.

Grout: Add lemon juice to 1 to 2 tea cream of tartar to make a paste. Apply with a tooth brush and rinse

Hands: When you touch raw fish, rub your hands with lemon juice to get rid of the oder. (they also sell these metal bars you can rub on your hands to do the same thing)

laundry: To brighten whites add 1/2 c. lemon juice to the rinse cycle for a normal size load.

Plastic storage containers: To bleach stains rub lemon juice on the spots and let them dry in a sunny place, then wash as usual. I use Pyrex storage containers with plastic lids so that when I heat them I don't add toxins to my food.

Table Salt
Artificial flowers: Place the fake blooms inside a paper bag and pour in salt. Close the bag and shake vigorously. The salt will dislodge accumulated dust and dirt.

Glassware: salt won't scratch he way a scouring pad can. To get out stains use salt for extra abrasion.

Greasy pots and pans: Sprinkle salt on cookware to absorb excess grease. Dump out the salt before washing (don't use on non stick)

spills in the oven: If something bubbles over, pour salt on the spill to soak it up. When the oven is cook, wipe it with a damp sponge.

Stained coffee and tea cups: Sprinkle salt on the outside of a lemon peel; rub until clean

Wooden counters and tables: cover grease splatters with salt to absorb as much as possible. Let absorb for an hour then wipe up.


The down low: the combination of a mild abrasive, a surfactant (detergent), and an antibacterial agent makes toothpaste a potent stain-fighter.

Acrylic accessories: squeeze toothpaste onto a toothbrush and work it into scratches until they diminish. Wipe residue off with a cloth.

Chrome fixtures: To polish faucets and taps in the kitchen or bath, smear a dime size amount of toothpaste onto them, then buff with a soft cloth until they shine.

scuffed linoleum: Reduce marks by scrubbing them with toothpaste and a dry cloth until no residue remains.

piano keys: Rub each key carefully with a damp cotton swab and a dollop of toothpaste. Wipe dry and buff with a clean cloth.

Tarnished silverware: Put a dab of toothpaste on a soft cloth, rub it onto the tarnish, then rinse with water and dry.

Steam iron: mineral deposits can stain an iron's sole plate. Apply a dab of toothpaste and work it into the plate. Use a clean cloth to remove residue.

A Few More Tips:
Glycerin: remove dried wax. Pick off as much dried wax as possible, moisten cotton ball with glycerin and rub until clean

Club Soda: use to shine scuffed stainless steal sink. Buff with a cloth dampened with club soda. then wipe dry with another clean cloth.

Hydrogen peroxide: disinfect keyboard. Dip a cotton swab in hydrogen peroxide to get into the nooks and crannies.

corn starch: clean grease spills on carpet. Pour cornstarch onto spots and let sit 15-30 minuets before vacuuming.

rubbing alcohol- erase permanent marker stains from finished wood floors or solid surface counter tops, pour rubbing alcohol onto a cotton ball and apply.

white bread: dust an oil painting. Gently dab a slice of white bread over the surface to pick up dirt and grime.

ketchup: remove tarnish from copper and brass cookware. Squeeze ketchup onto a cloth and rub it on pots and pans. They should go back to their coppery color in minuets. Rinse with warm water and dry with a towel.

oatmeal: Use to scrub very dirty hands. Make a thick paste of oatmeal and water; rinse well.

Rice: clean the inside of a vase or thin necked bottle. Fill three quarters of the vessel with warm water and add a Tbs. of uncooked rice. Shake vigorously.

Tea: Scour rusty garden tools. Brew a few pots of strong black tea. When cool, pour into a bucket. Soak the tools for a few hours. Wipe each one with a cloth.

This has given me insporation to clean. Imagine that! I better take this opportunity while it is here.

happy cleaning!

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