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Cleaning? Think Green!

Submitted by Lorene Bartos, UNL Extension Educator

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In order to save the environment when doing spring cleaning one must THINK GREEN. So what does it mean - think of products to use that are more environmentally friendly. Let's look at some of the products we have around the house that can be used to clean and are not toxic. Baking soda, vinegar, salt, lemon juice and borax are common products essential for green cleaning. Not only are they common, they are inexpensive. They also work as well as chemical cleaners. So, I have these products. What can I use them for? Uses for these products include:

Baking Soda - also called sodium bicarbonate, is a natural powder. It will neutralize acids and bases and will help eliminate odors. It can be used as an air fresher, drain opener, polish and scouring powder. Keep a box of soda in the refrigerator to help eliminate odors, sprinkle on carpet to deodorizer (always vacuum up after a few minutes), polish chrome appliances or bathroom and kitchen fixtures. Use dry baking soda and a dry cloth to polish chrome.

Clean black heel marks and crayon marks by rubbing with baking soda and a damp rag. Baking soda shouldn't remove the paint or floor finish.

Vinegar - is a strong acid and will cut through grease. It can be used on all types of surfaces. It works well to clean kitchen appliances as well as glassware and pots and pans. Cleaning glass such as windows and mirrors is another favorite use for vinegar. Mix equal parts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle to use on windows and mirrors. One cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle serves as a fabric softener.

To clean a steam iron add one tablespoon white vinegar to one cup of water. Pour into the iron and set heat to steam setting. Let steam until solution is gone. Rinse.

Vinegar and soda work well together to declog drains. To use for this purpose put ½ to 1 cup baking soda and one cup of white vinegar down the drain. Rinse with hot water.

To clean linoleum and tile floors mix ½ cup white vinegar with one gallon hot or warm water.

Remove hard water stains and cloudiness from vases and glass utensils by filling them with a hot water and vinegar solution. Allow the solution to stand in the utensil until it cools. Wash and rinse. Straight vinegar can be used for bad problems.

To clean an automatic coffee maker run one cup of vinegar through the cycle. Rinse by running a couple pots of plain water through the cycle.

Lemon juice - contains acid to help cut grease. It can be added to vinegar to help cut the smell. The rinds can be put down the garbage disposal to clean and deodorize.

For an all purpose cleaner mix 1 quart warm water, l teaspoon liquid dish soap, l teaspoon borax and ¼ cup white vinegar. Put in a spray bottle. This mixture can be used on floors, walls, carpets, etc.

Salt - Pour salt over spills on stove or in the oven immediately. When cool, lift off.

Start today to think green. Put together a green cleaning kit and help save the environment and the health of your family.


Ask Lorene

(This resource was added March 2008 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

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