Cleaning Green Below Your Means

by Kim   |   February 17, 2009

Do you really need all that stuff under your sink?

New Dream staff members put their heads together to come up with a list of their favorite cleaning tips.

Take off your shoes inside! You’d be surprised how dirty floors are because of shoe dirt. When you do decide to clean the floors though, use 1 cup of white vinegar to 1 gallon hot water. If you’re cleaning wood floors decrease the vinegar to ½ cup and still use 1 gallon hot water.
Switch from paper to cloth napkins! The savings add up.

Green silver cleaning Apply white, non-gel toothpaste to a damp cloth and work into the silver. The mild abrasive in the toothpaste will clean the silver. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
Home-brewed floor cleaner Tea is all you need to clean wood floors. Brew two teabags in hot water and cool to room temperature. Use with a mop or a cloth on the floors. Rinsing is not needed.

Keep greenwashing out of your washing (and other cleaning chores0: Do some research on product ingredients.

A whiter shade of green Use oxygen-based bleach instead of chlorine bleach for laundry whitening.

Check your dirt at the door. Put mats at high-traffic spots to trap the dirt there.
Use rags instead of paper towels. (This is a great use for truly worn-out clothes that wouldn't be welcome at the thrift store).

You don't need to buy name brand. Making your own "soft scrub" is easy and cheap with baking soda and liquid soap.

Simplify your laundry days. You don't need to use as much detergent as the label suggests. I use about half, and hang most of my clothes to save energy and make them last longer.
A 'good friend' indeed. Bon Ami cleansing powder works about as well as the stronger stuff--you just have to let it sit for awhile.

Are we greenwashed or brainwashed by all those chemical cleaners? I’ve been watching a show on BBC America called “How Clean is Your House” when they find the dirtiest homes in the U.S. and the U.K. and clean them. Something that shocked me is how much they rely on vinegar as a cleaning agent.

Mary Jo:
Effort is free. Use some elbow grease. There’s nothing wrong with a little scrubbing.

Tough stains might need extra help. Use Magic Erasers to clean your bathtub. No harsh chemicals needed and no scratched porcelain! (If you're concerned about what exactly makes them 'magic', consider that using them on tough jobs saves on using chemical alternatives).

All-purpose cleanser is good for most jobs. Baking soda and vinegar will clean anything from tub to tiles to counters
Mildew problems? A few drops of an essential oil in water will kill mildew.

For more cleaning tips for each room in the house, check out the Conscious Consumer Marketplace.