House cleaning the green way 

There are plenty of natural alternatives to commercial solvents

A quick walk down supermarket aisles gives a sobering view of the cleaning solvents on offer. North Americans spend billions every year to get not just clean, but squeaky clean. The price we pay for this is more than just money; we pay in the trillions of litres of chemicals washed down the drains and into septic fields.

We are not only becoming more aware of the damage done to the environment by these cleaners but, in these economic times, need another solution. (Pardon the pun!)

Over the last few months I have studied every cleaner previously under my kitchen sink and experimented with healthy alternatives. Here is what works for me:

· Instead of spraying room freshener around the house, and with a bunch of four-legged family members wandering about I need it more than most, I find a bowl of kitty litter absorbs room odors. Two other equally effective alternatives are a cup of vinegar or charcoal, they also work wonders.

· A great basic recipe for a general all-purpose cleaner is: mix together ½ cup of vinegar and ¼ cup of baking soda in 2 litres of water. This solution is great in shower stalls, chrome, windows and mirrors, as well as general cleaning around the house.

· I have a pedestal sink in my bathroom and the grout between the sink and the wall is prone to mold which seems to appear overnight. I use one part hydrogen peroxide to two parts water, spray on and leave for about an hour before rinsing. Full strength vinegar or lemon juice also works very well.

· All the floors in my home, with the exception of the kitchen and bathroom, are pine boards painted white... what was I thinking! A very effective cleaner is two teaspoons of washing soda in two litres of hot water. So much better than the commercial cleaner with a splash of bleach I used for years.

· Years ago I took a very intense series of cooking classes with a chef who made Gordon Ramsey look like a favorite uncle. When it came time to clean all the pots and pans he used coarse salt as an abrasive and half a lemon as the utensil. It was amazing how quickly we got the kitchen shipshape.

· Marks on painted surfaces such as crayon can be removed by sprinkling baking soda onto a damp sponge, rubbing gently then rinsing with clean water.

· Clean lime deposits in a kettle by boiling 1/2 cup of vinegar with two cups of water for five minutes. Make sure you rinse well with warm water.

· A great drain cleaner is ½ cup baking soda to ½ cup of white vinegar. Pour the baking soda down the drain then follow with the vinegar, let sit for a few minutes then follow with boiling water.

· I have invested a small amount of cash into microfibre cloths for dusting. They do an amazing job by themselves without the need for added pollutants.


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