It's one of those annoying-but-inevitable life truths: every now and then (depending on your personality) you have to clean your home. So why not do it the cheap and green way?
The kitchen is one of the most frequented rooms in the house, which means it can be the room with the most bacteria. Even if you can't see any dirt and grime, it can be lurking on your kitchen surfaces in the form of tiny microbes. Instead of traditional cleaners, you should try eco-friendly cleaning supplies, which are both good for your health and for the environment –- and your kitchen will still be as squeaky clean.
RID YOUR KITCHEN OF TOXIC CLEANING STUFF
Traditional off-the-shelf cleaning supplies often contain ammonia and bleach. And while they're good at keeping your home disinfected and clean, they can often wreak havoc on your airways, eyes and even your nervous system. If you use these products in small amounts, the irritating effects are small -- however, children and anyone with a weakened immune system is especially susceptible to the potentially toxic exposure.
In addition to the adverse impact these cleaners have on your body, traditional cleaners also pollute the environment. Once they get washed down the drain, they enter the water supply and can end up in rivers, lakes and oceans, harming wildlife.
Also, when you use chemicals in your kitchen (or any other rooms in your house), you raise your indoor air pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that indoor air can be up to 100 times more polluted than outside air due to volatile organic compounds (VOC) levels. Luckily, there are plenty of eco-friendly cleaning alternatives for your kitchen and other indoor use.
MAKE YOUR OWN ECO-FRIENDLY CLEANING PRODUCTS
There are six basic non-toxic ingredients that you may already have in your kitchen that you can use to make homemade cleaning supplies. These basic eco-friendly ingredients will clean and scrub your kitchen just as well -- if not better than -- traditional cleaning products:
Distilled white vinegar
Aromatic plant oils (such as eucalyptus or lavender)
Plant-based liquid soap
Eco-friendly all-purpose cleaning scrub:To make an aromatic all-purpose cleaning scrub for kitchen or bathroom surfaces combine baking soda with enough plant-based liquid soap to make a paste. Spread some of the paste on half of a lemon and scrub your kitchen surfaces. Then wipe the kitchen surface with a damp cloth.
Eco-friendly floor disinfectant: To make a floor disinfectant, combine 1/8 cup plant-based liquid soap, 1/8 cup distilled white vinegar, 1 gallon of water and 10 drops of an aromatic plant oil. Mop with floor disinfectant with as you do with traditional floor cleaners. Be sure to open a window to air out the vinegar smell after cleaning.
BUY ECO-FRIENDLY CLEANING PRODUCTS
There are a lot of mainstream companies that are now producing green cleaning supplies. Seventh Generation has an environmentally-conscious line of dish soaps, household cleansers, laundry soaps and even baby products that are organic, biodegradable and toxin-free. Method has become one of the most popular brands of eco-responsible products. Method products can be found in most large retail stores. All of the products come in biodegradable containers and are safe for almost every surface and, best yet, these natural homemade cl;eaners have less of impact on the environment as compared to traditional cleaning products.
PATIENCE IS A FREEBIE
One thing that can save you time, effort and money is the simplest of all: do nothing. Soaking stubborn spots, stains or dried food is a great way to handle some of your kitchen cleaning work. Some things you can soak in water (hot water is often best, and you might want to add a dab of vinegar or lemon to the water), while others need to be soaked where they sit. For these spots, thoroughly wet a dish cloth and lightly wring it out, then place it over the problem area. (Make sure the cloth is completely touching whatever you're trying to clean off.) Give it time -- anything from a few minutes to a couple hours -- and then wipe it away! If it still is stubborn, let it soak overnight, but be sure the towel doesn't dry out.
IT'S SIMPLER THAN YOU THINK
Reducing your impact on the environment is as easy as making a few eco-conscious decisions. Cleaning your kitchen with eco-friendly cleaning supplies is but one of the many eco-friendly things you can do to take part in keeping the Earth beautiful for all.
Watch: DIY dish detergent
For more eco-friendly tips on living green and reducing your carbon footprint, see these articles: