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Have a clean and green home

By on April 3, 2009

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photo by Jenny Downing

It’s spring. It’s time to get your cleaning and organizing plans under way. Get an early start, and you can incorporate new green-living tips into your life, too. When spring is in full swing, you can enjoy the nice weather instead of cleaning indoors. Don’t try to tackle it all in a weekend. Break your home into sections, and work on one area at a time.
Here are a few green-cleaning suggestions to get you started.

HOME SCENTS: Air fresheners mask smells. To make your home smell good, open windows and let the fresh air in. Bring in houseplants, and empty trash daily. If you enjoy scents, you can combine a few drops of essential oil and water in a spray bottle and use as a room mist. You can simmer natural items such as apple and citrus peels, cinnamon or fresh mint leaves and water in a slow cooker, place an open box of baking soda in a room, or soak a cotton ball with vanilla or essential oil, too.

NATURAL CLEANERS: While many people replace glass cleaner with vinegar and water, they’re hesitant to try much else. Try a new homemade recipe. You can replace store-bought scrubbing cleaners with the following.

2 cups baking soda
1/2 cup liquid Castile soap
3 teaspoons vegetable glycerin
few drops essential oil if using unscented Castile soap

Mix together, and store in a sealed glass jar. When cleaning areas such as a bathtub, spray the area with vinegar to loosen dirt, apply your natural cleaner, use a loofah sponge to scrub, and rinse with water. You can even grow your own loofah sponges in your backyard garden. Seeds can be bought cheap on eBay. One reader, Durgan in Canada, shares: “Method to manufacture is simple and takes little time. Remove the shell, which is hard and comes off cleanly. Cut the ends off, and shake out the seeds. There are about 100 seeds in each fruit. Wash in the washing machine with soap. A normal cycle works fine. Hang up to dry in the sun.” Some people bleach them. If you don’t like the natural color, consider bleaching with a nonchlorine bleach such as Ecover or diluted hydrogen peroxide.

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LAUNDERING: When you wash clothing, bedding and linens, consider a green detergent such as Seventh Generation, choose concentrated laundry detergents, or make your own.

Powdered Laundry Soap

2 cups finely shredded Fels Naptha or Zote grated soap
1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax

Combine ingredients, and store in an airtight plastic container. Use 2 tablespoons per laundry load.

Use vinegar as a fabric softener, and hang-dry clothing at least part of the time. Keep in mind that sunshine bleaches naturally. And most clothing and towels don’t have to be washed after a single use.

Before tossing out worn or outgrown clothing, consider ways to reuse it. Can it be mended? Can it be reconstructed/upcycled? A pillowcase or button-down dress shirt can become a toddler dress. Visit Everything Sewing ( for a free pillowcase dress pattern and Craftster ( 0402.0) for a free tutorial on transforming a dress shirt. There are a lot of possibilities for reusing fabric. So reuse or donate before you toss.


  1. marie

    4/16/2009 at 12:39 pm

    when I was a kid, we grew loofahs. I forgot about those. I think I will try growing some this year. and olso hydrogen proxide is good in boiling out blood and other organic stains.

  2. Sara Noel

    4/16/2009 at 12:51 pm

    I have some loofah seeds to plant this year. I’m looking forward to growing them with my kids.

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