(BPT) - It’s not necessary to use harsh chemicals and toxins to achieve a cleaner, fresh-smelling home this season. Homemade cleaning products and earth-friendly tactics can help you clean green. Here are green cleaning ideas and a supplies list that will make Mother Nature happy:
* Begin by decluttering, which requires no chemicals at all. As you’re disposing of items you no longer need or want, be mindful of ways to keep them out of the waste stream. Donating gently used but no-longer-needed items such as clothing, furniture and books is a great way to reduce waste and cut clutter at the same time.
* Clean windows instantly brighten your house inside and out, and they’re one of the easiest household cleaning chores to do with natural tools. A simple solution of white vinegar and water (about two tablespoons of vinegar per gallon of water) makes an effective, low-cost and green window cleaner. Spritz on windows using a spray bottle and use newspaper instead of paper towels for a streak-free clean. Don’t like the smell of vinegar? Straight lemon juice works just as well and smells distinctly like spring.
* Pull out the white vinegar again to mix up a great floor cleaner that works well on surfaces from hardwood to vinyl to tile. You’ll need to add three or four cups of vinegar to about a gallon of hot water. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil – peppermint or lemon are popular choices – so that when the vinegar aroma evaporates, the wonderful scent of the oil will linger.
* Laundering linens is a cornerstone of many cleaning projects. Mass marketed liquids and dryer sheets, however, rely on softening chemicals and petroleum-derived fragrances to impart softness and scent. Try this simple, natural fabric softening recipe from the essential oil experts at Aura Cacia:
1/2 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon lavender essential oil
Directions: Dissolve baking soda in vinegar, stir in lavender and pour into the water during your washer’s rinse cycle. Line dry clothes for maximum green value. Or, if you must use a dryer, add a wool dryer ball to shorten drying time and soften clothes. To boost the fresh scent of lavender, sprinkle several drops on the dryer ball or on a paper towel and add to the dryer during the cool down cycle.
* Prepare a multi-purpose cleaner to help brighten and freshen surfaces throughout your home. Mix two tablespoons of unscented liquid soap with four drops of lemon essential oil and two drops of tea tree essential oil. Pour the mixture into a gallon of warm water. Use this multi-purpose solution with a sponge mop or rag to remove dirt from floors and hard surfaces such as countertops and appliances.
* Stock up on natural cleaning supplies such as lemon, peppermint, eucalyptus and tea tree essential oils, baking and washing soda, Borax, white distilled vinegar, spray and squeeze bottles, natural bristle scrubbing brushes, old newspaper, cotton dusting cloths and hemp or jute fiber scrubbing cloths.
* Instead of chemical air fresheners that can irritate allergy sufferers, make your own room fresheners using cotton balls soaked in essential oil. Store in decorative ceramic dishes out of reach of children and pets. For bedrooms, lavender is relaxing. Lemon and other citrus oils are invigorating for bathrooms, and cinnamon and clove impart mouth-watering aroma to kitchens.