Spring cleaning can be thrifty and green
By CG Lifestyles and People Editor Sarah DeCarlo
For those of you who are both dedicated spring cleaners and eco-enthusiasts, we have great news: there are inexpensive alternatives to environmentally unfriendly cleaning products like Clorox and Windex. In order for you to make the most of your spring cleaning, College Green Mag brings you this all-purpose guide to nontoxic do-it-yourself cleaning resources. So leave your heavy-duty gloves under the sink this year, forget about dealing with toxic chemicals and try out some of these recipes.
Baking Soda Solution: Instead of investing in an expensive bottle of Febreze, simply buy a box of baking soda. This powdery substance can be used to clean bathroom surfaces or it can be sprinkled on carpets to maintain a great smelling room. Place it in a refrigerator to keep food odors to a minimum.
Carpet Spills: If you catch stains early they can be easily removed. Club soda is always a backup for fresh stains. Additionally, dumping cornmeal onto a spill will cause liquid to harden, so the spill can literally be vacuumed up after 15 minutes of setting. Another option is to mix cornstarch and water, then set the subsequent paste on your spill. After a few minutes wipe off the paste – and the stain – with a damp towel.
Dirty Microwave: Clean it up at absolutely no cost to you! Simply place a bowl of water in the microwave and set the timer to three minutes. Carefully remove the bowl after the time is up, and wipe the inside of the microwave with a cloth (reusable, of course). All of your caked-on food splatter will be loosened by the hot water’s steam, making cleaning a breeze. Hint: if your microwave also smells, add a couple teaspoons of baking soda to the water before heating.
DraNO: Mainstream drain-unclogging products are no friend to the environment, but what can you do when your sink is overflowing? Just mix a half cup of baking soda with a half cup of vinegar, and pour and cover the drain for a few minutes. Next, run the tap for a while to fully rinse away the mixture. As an added plus, the vinegar deodorizes drains, keeping them smelling fresh.
Ketchup on Cleaning: We all know that ketchup is great at staining clothes, but did you know that it can actually be used to remove stains, too? Apply a thin layer of ketchup to things like brass or copper appliances, silverware and car rims, let sit for thirty minutes, then wipe off. The resulting shine will leave your belongings looking as good as new!
Organic Fabric Softener: Instead of buying a separate container of fabric softener or going through a box of Bounce sheets, just use the vinegar left over from the rest of your spring cleaning! Pour a quarter cup of white vinegar into the fabric softener slot on your next laundry run and this will leave your clothes soft and smooth. The mix of water and detergent will neutralize that tangy vinegar odor.
Paper Towel Alternative: All of these tips may sound great, but what if you don’t have a reusable towel for cleaning? Don’t turn to the paper towel, trees’ worst enemy. Instead, grab a copy of your local newspaper! These make a great alternative when cleaning windows, mirrors and other dirty household items – and fear not, the paper’s ink won’t stain.
Sparkling Windows Without Windex: Mixing a few tablespoons of vinegar with a gallon of water will give your windows the same shiny effect as store-bought cleaning products at a much smaller cost. The lower environmental impact is also a plus! If your nose can’t stand the tinge of vinegar, just substitute it with lemon juice.
Spirited Cleaning: Going out this weekend? Be sure to set aside a cup or two of vodka, which is a great choice for several spring cleaning needs. Did you just wear your favorite tank top out last weekend and haven’t had time to do laundry? Spritz it with vodka using a spray bottle and hang to dry. The alcohol leaves gently-worn clothes smelling fresh – just be sure to do a test spray to make sure it doesn’t damage your clothes’ material. Vodka can also be used to make sinks shine: simply apply to a towel and wipe.
Stale Coffee Remedies: Leftover coffee beans and stagnant water can leave unwanted residue in hard-to-reach places in automatic coffee makers. To keep your coffee tasting great at no cost to your health or the environment, just run a few cups of vinegar through your appliance, followed by two cycles of water. The vinegar will wash away any residue and the water will wash away any taste of vinegar.
Tea Tree Tricks: Though a little on the expensive side, tea tree oil is a great organic cleaning tool when mixed with water. Add 15 drops of oil to 1 quart of water. If available, pour this mixture into a spray bottle; if not, use a bowl and towel. The resulting solution can be used to clean nearly any hard surface, and if sprayed directly on the infected area also serves as a mold killer.
Most of the ingredients for these cleaning products can be found in your cupboards at home, but if you need to go shopping be sure to stop by the baking section instead of the cleaning aisle. If something on this list seems too difficult, check out an organic alternative – like Bon Ami – instead of heading straight for the traditional cleaning products.