Kick Your Bleach To The Curb


Line-drying your clothes saves energy.

Maybe I am a little too sensitive. Or maybe I am just weird. But the smell of bleach and other strong cleaning agents makes me want to run far, far away.

Each year, we discover more and more about how synthetic chemicals can harm our bodies. In a hospital, harsh cleaning agents are necessary to prevent the spread of infection, but those chemicals do not have a place in my home. I make it a priority to pick green cleaning supplies in addition to a few other eco-friendly necessities.

Some crafty people make their own green-cleaning supplies with not-so-fancy, not-so-expensive ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice. I haven't been able to find the time, energy or inclination for such DIY cleaning shenanigans. It's enough if I scrub the tub every now and again. But even if you're a reluctant house cleaner like me, here are a few easy tips to making your cleaning a little greener.

10 Easy Green Cleaning Tips

1. When you see a sale or a coupon, stock up on your favorite green cleaning brands.

2. Purchase refill-sized bottles. You will save money and help the environment if you can find larger bottles to refill your smaller cleaning solution containers.

3. Reduce waste by using fewer cleaners. An all-purpose cleaning spray can get you pretty far, rather than purchasing a cleaner for each surface type.

4. If you can't afford organic cleaners, pick an unscented version of a standard cleaning product, and it will be much more eco-friendly than its bright, smelly counterpart.

5. Don't leave the water running when you are washing dishes or doing other cleaning tasks.

6. Choose to use cold water to wash your laundry, and as much as possible, line dry your clothes rather than turning on the energy-hog dryer.

7. When it is practical, use wash cloths rather than paper towels for your cleaning tasks to reduce paper waste.

8. Use less soap. Gradually reduce the amount you use of any cleaning produce by diluting it or just using less. In many cases, we use much more than we need.

9. In general, avoid antibacterial cleaning products. Research has shown that these products can actually contribute to the growth of resistant bacterial strains.

10. Take off your shoes as soon as you enter your home. You can save a lot of time and energy by simply removing your shoes and leaving dirt and germs by the door, rather than tracking public-restroom-at-the-grocery-store cooties around your kitchen floor.

For more cleaning tips, read "The Naturally Clean Home: 150 Super-Easy Herbal Formulas for Green Cleaning" by Karyn Siegel-Maier (Storey Publishing, LLC, 2008, $10.95); "Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living" by Annie Berthold-Bond (Clarkson Potter, 1999, $18.95); "Green Housekeeping" by Ellen Sandbeck (Scribner, 2008, $17).


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