Sometimes it's parenthood (of children or of pets), sometimes it's activism, and sometimes it's just interest in being green, but more and more people are turning to "Earth friendly" products for their
Organic food is popping up in more and more grocery carts, and cleaning supplies are right there with it. But, organics and "green" products tend to be more expensive. For those that want to save a litttle money on basic cleaners (or if you get in a pinch and can't make it to the store), these are some simple, effective cleaning supplies that can usually be found around the house already.
White Vinegar: Vinegar is a great cleaning aid. It's safe and nontoxic, so it shouldn't bother kids or pets (and the smell dissipates quickly as it dries). It works great as a laundry aid -- add to your washer's cycle when you would normally add fabric softener to fight tough odors. You can also put it in a spray bottle to use for quick cleanups in the kitchen and bathroom, as it has mildew-fighting properties and cuts through grease. Finally, use it to clean shower heads. Fill a plastic food-storage bag with white vinegar, secure it to your shower head with a rubber band, and leave it for several hours or overnight. Run the hot water for a few minutes when you're finished, just to rinse everything out. Just make sure you don't mix vinegar and bleach.
Rubbing Alcohol: alcohol is a good, cheap product to have on hand. In a spray bottle, it's great for cleaning and shining chrome faucets, and it's also great for getting stains, such as ink, out of laundry. Just check an inconspicuous spot first. Alcohol is also a great glass cleaner. In a spray bottle, mix 1 cup water, 1 cup rubbing alcohol, and 1 TBSP white vinegar, and use to clean windows and mirrors. For a stronger glass cleaner, try using 1 cup water, 1 cup rubbing alcohol, and 1 TBSP non-sudsing ammonia (again, don't use with bleach).
Baking Soda: Baking Soda is one of the most versatile products you can keep in your home. Keep a box in both the fridge and the freezer to absorb odors. Try shaking a little into the cat box or smelly sneakers to do the same thing. You can add it to laundry that's especially grimy and smelly, too (think summer camp, sports, and yard work days), and a paste of baking soda and water makes a great, mild abrasive cleaner for sinks, faucets, tubs, and showers.
Many of these products can be found in your home already or can be bought for a fraction of the cost of commercial cleaners. They're safe for the environment, safe for your family, and easy on the wallet. Give them a try and let us know what you think.