21 Aug 2014
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Going Green: Spring Cleaning Tips

Here are some environmentally friendly ways to keep your home clean … and green.

Going Green: Spring Cleaning Tips

Editor's Note: The following article was provided by the San Mateo County Health System.

At last!  After months of winter, spring is finally here. While you fling open the windows, dust away the cobwebs, and sweep up the dust bunnies, remember that there are many environmentally friendly ways to keep your home clean…and green.

So, how green is your Spring cleaning? 

The last thing you want to do is dump toxic chemicals into the environment in an attempt to keep your own home clean.  After all, how clean can your home be if the environment around it is poisoned?

First, make sure you know the safe way to clean out your medicine cabinet

Never flush your old prescription medicine. There are confidential drop-off containers at police departments throughout San Mateo County.  Visit  http://smchealth.org/RxDisposal for the location nearest to where you live.

How to Clean Green

It’s just as easy to use natural cleaning products that are safe for our environment as it is to use chemical-heavy detergents and cleaners. Chemicals found in conventional cleaning products can often be much more dangerous than the dirt they’re supposed to clean! And in addition to using dangerous chemicals, using lots of disposable paper towels is also not good for the Earth. 

Green cleaning products
Some basic supplies you’ll need to make your own green cleaners are items you probably already have in your cabinets, such as:

  • Distilled white vinegar (sold in the cooking section of most supermarkets)
  • Baking soda
  • Olive oil
  • Borax
  • Liquid castile soap
  • Essential oils (natural plant oils found in natural foods stores)
  • Microfiber cleaning cloths
  • Newspaper

Once you have your basic supplies, try these environmentally friendly, inexpensive and effective ways to clean:

  • Glass:  Mix 1/4 cup vinegar with 1 quart of water in a spray bottle. Spray on glass and wipe clean with old newspaper or a lint-free cloth.
  • Floors: Mix 4 cups of white distilled vinegar with about a gallon of hot water. If desired, add a few drops of pure peppermint or lemon oil for a pleasant scent. After damp mopping the floors, the smell of vinegar will dissipate quickly, leaving behind only the scent of the oil.
  • Countertops and bathroom tile: Mix 2 parts vinegar and 1 part baking soda with 4 parts water. Apply with a sponge, scour, and wipe away.
  • Wood furniture: Mix equal parts of lemon juice and olive and oil. Apply a small amount to a cloth, and rub onto the furniture in long, even strokes.
  • Toilet bowl cleaner: Sprinkle a toilet brush with baking soda and scrub away! Occasionally disinfect your toilet by scrubbing with borax instead. Wipe the outside of the toilet clean with straight vinegar.
  • Disinfectant: Mix 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons vinegar, 3 cups hot water, and 1/4 teaspoon liquid castile soap. Wipe on with dampened cloth or use a spray bottle. Wipe clean.
  • Mold and mildew:  Wipe with straight vinegar.

Try these other green household habits:

  1. Hang laundry to dry. Drying your clothes in an electric or gas dryer is hard on the environment…and on your clothes! Install a clothesline in your backyard or over your bathtub. Line-drying clothes reduces pollution and can cut your energy bill.
  2. Add a living air filter—houseplants! Some of the most efficient air-cleaning houseplants include Spider plants, English ivy, and rubber plants.   Place a few plants in the room where you spend most of your time.
  3. Recycle your wardrobe. Donate gently worn items to charity, where they’ll get a second life, and donate torn and stained items (if they’re made of an absorbent fabric) to your rag collection, where they’ll replace wasteful paper towels.
  4. Mop Smartly. Instead of buying expensive single-use mop pads, try using a reusable mop. Mop heads can be washed in your washing machine, hung dry, and used many times.  It’s a great way to save money, too!
  5. Don’t use paper towels. Save trees, cash and waste. Use washable cleaning and dusting cloths made from cotton fabrics and microfibers.  And don’t forget the old t-shirts you’ve added to your rag collection!

Still feel the need to use chemical-based cleaners and detergents now and then?

Many products that San Mateo County collects in its  Household Waste Collection events are available to residents for FREE through our product giveaway program.  Giveaway items include household cleaners, auto supplies, fertilizers, wood preservatives, stains and latex paints.  The Product-Give-Away Warehouse in Redwood City is open on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month from 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. For more information, visit our  Product Giveaway Program online or call (650) 372-6200.

We hope these tips will help you to “clean up your act” during spring cleaning.  While some tips may seem small, if you use any of them you’re contributing to a healthier body, home and planet.  And the more of us that clean green, the greater the impact we can make for everyone.

Happy spring cleaning!

Also on Patch:

How to Keep Your Reusable Bags Bacteria-Free

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Need a Dose of Serenity? Head to Filoli

Go Greener By Composting Your Kitchen Waste

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