Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How Green is your Clean Home?

Living by the lake, we are in an ideal spot for vacations and weekend trips.  As a result, our house is always full.  We love having visitors and guests and cherish the opportunity to provide our family and friends with a break away from every day life to experience the "island life" we are blessed to live every day.  However, when people visit, we often go out on the boat, swim in the lake, and just spend oodles of time outside.  As all moms know, when kids play outside, they bring the dirt back inside with them.   This means I spend more time than I'd like cleaning both before company arrives as well as after they leave.  Recently, with all the talk about green cleaning, I've begun to reevaluate my cleaning routine.  Is it as green as it should be?  I'm constantly questioning how to make sure my house is clean without using chemicals that could be harmful to my children.  What is the best way to be both Clean and Green?  If you have tips and ideas, then I would LOVE to hear them.  Here are the ten tips I've come up with through my recent research.
  1. Vinegar - While my grandmother would most certainly be able to tell you all the great uses for vinegar, I was completely unaware of how much it can do to clean my house.  Vinegar and water can be used to clean floors, counters, and toilets.  In addition, it can be used to absorb odors from paint fumes.  In fact, I had a small spot of carpet that had gotten wet and smelled really musty.  When I called my mom asking for advice she told me to use some vinegar to get the smell out.  Not liking the smell of vinegar, I initially ignored her thinking that I didn't want my carpet smelling like vinegar either.  Eventually I tried it and it worked.  No more musty smell and no vinegar smell either!
  2. Baking Soda - Baking soda is another amazing natural cleaner.  For years, whenever I've had a rust stain in my sink.  I've put a baking soda paste on, let it sit for a couple of minutes and scrubbed it out with a little elbow grease.  Don't ask me why it works, but it does.  It also works great on those stubborn food stains in your refrigerator.  When combined with vinegar, not only does it make a great volcano, but it also does a great job of cleaning your garbage disposal and making it smell fresh and clean.
  3. Lemon Juice -  I was seriously shocked to see what Lemon Juice can do to keep your house clean.  A little lemon juice and water and clean glass and mirrors.  Straight lemon juice can remove stains from vinyl floors. Olive Oil and Lemon Juice can even be used to polish your wood furniture.  I've always loved the smell, but now I have even more reason to buy lemon juice.
  4. Anti-Bacterial Products - For quite a while now, products have used the fact that they are anti-bacterial as a major selling point.  While I definitely don't want bad bacteria in my house making my kids sick, more and more studies are now showing that anti-bacterial products are not good for your home or the environment.  I've traded in all my anti-bacterial soaps for more natural products like Method and Seventh Generation.
  5. Fresh Air - Opening my windows and getting fresh air circulating through my house really seems to make a difference in making my house feel fresh and clean.  While I don't know that it is actually any cleaner, it helps me resist the urge to grab air fresheners and chemical laden cleaners.
  6. Remove Your Shoes - The less dirt and chemicals you bring in, the less you have to clean out.  If you think about all the places your shoes go throughout the day, you would probably think twice about ever wearing them in your house again.  I probably walk through pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, feces, and more every day.  Even if you can't see it, some of those products are on your shoes and will get in your carpet.  By taking your shoes off at the door, you are at least preventing some of those toxins from getting in your house, on your carpet, and perhaps in your kids' mouths.  (I know my kids can't resist popping an M&M in their mouth even if it has fallen on the floor.)
  7. House Plants - I don't have a green thumb.  I never have and probably never will.  However, I keep trying.  Partly because I like the looks of a plant and partly because I think it is a great way to naturally clean the air in my home.  Plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen.  New fresh oxygen in my house can't be a bad thing, right?
  8. Healthy Food Choices - We will be exposed to bacteria and viruses.  However, if we have a strong immune system I think we are more likely to fight off any illnesses we might encounter a bit more easily.  One of the best ways to maintain our immune system is to watch what we eat.  If we eat a balanced diet and keep our body in good condition, I think we are less likely to get sick.  When the kids are sick is when I'm really tempted to pull out the bleach and scour the house.  If we can avoid major illnesses, I can keep my house greener and cleaner.
  9. Exercise -  Like healthy food choices, I also believe that regular exercise keeps our bodies in better condition to fight off bacteria and viruses.  A healthy body should definitely lead to a healthier home.
  10. De-clutter - One of the easiest ways to keep your house cleaner is to get rid of clutter.  The more "stuff" you have sitting around, the more difficult it is to clean around it.  I think that getting rid of unnecessary items will make your house feel more clean without having to do as much work.  It is a way to clean without using any harmful chemicals at all.  You can even donate your items to a local or national charity to help those less fortunate as well.  
Now that I've shared my tips, I'd love to hear yours.  Don't be surprised if it takes me a while to respond though.  I am preparing for a visit with my sister and her family for Labor Day weekend, so I have cleaning to do.  :o)

Note:  While I have never personally used Mrs. Meyer's products, Twittermoms has provided me with information about them that I am passing on to you.  It seems like an interesting product.  If I happen to see it in stores I might just pick it up.  If I do, I'll be sure to share my thoughts and opinions on it.
"Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day makes household products for people looking for a better way to clean. Our natural, plant-derived essential oils are powerful against daily dirt and grime, but leave your home smelling like a garden, not harsh chemicals.

Our refreshing scents include cool and crisp Basil, soothing Lavender, invigorating Lemon Verbena and uplifting Geranium. We also make a line of Baby Blossom personal care products specifically formulated and dermatologist-tested for little ones.

All of our cleaning supplies are earth friendly -- biodegradable, phosphate-free, and not tested on animals. Cleaning is something we all have to do. So why not make it just a little more enjoyable?"

Disclaimer - I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Mrs. Meyer’s blogging program, making me eligible to get a $30 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.  Others may have different experiences.  Various tips have been passed on from familly, friends and cleaning websites over time. 


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