8 Must-Have Products for the Gorgeously Green Girl
If you have time, you may want to save lots of money and make your own cleaning products. It's actually incredibly easy and fun, and it will not make your home look or smell like a dingy hippie commune. I use a mixture of the store-bought eco-cleaners and my own. Most importantly, you can save a lot of money.
Stock your cupboards with the following eight products and you can clean just about anything:
1. White vinegar—see the section on vinegar coming up.
2. Baking soda—eliminates odors and is a good scrubbing powder.
3. Borax—removes dirt; is antifungal and a possible disinfectant.
4. Hydrogen peroxide (3 percent concentration)—nontoxic bleach, antibacterial agent, and stain remover.
5. Lemon juice—grease cutter and stain remover.
6. Liquid castile soap—all-purpose cleaner, grease-cutter, and disinfectant. Castile means that the soap is vegetable-based and not animal fat–based.
7. Olive oil—makes great furniture polish.
8. Essential oils of lavender, geranium, and tea tree—antibacterial and add a great smell to your home.
Tea Tree Oil
I have a passion for this strong-smelling essential oil from Australia. It is a natural solvent and is brilliant for cutting grease while killing germs and bacteria. They actually swab down hospitals with it in Australia. It also has a variety of health benefits: I put it on sores and cuts; in shampoo for dandruff; on bleeding gums; and dilute it with water for a mouthwash.
Be careful that you're getting the real thing—it comes from the Melaleuca alternifolia plant. There are at least 150 species of the Melaleuca plant, but only the alternifolia one has the healing properties that you need. So check the label. Also, take a whiff before buying, as it should have a very strong smell. You want to make sure it hasn't been diluted. Buy organic if possible. Most large health food stores and many drugstores now stock it.
Vinegar deserves a paragraph of its own because it is one of the best cleaners. It can sometimes bring to mind a gloomy eco-house [I once visited], but it is so effective that I have gotten over it. I chuck a cup in the main body of the dishwasher for every other cycle and use it as a drain cleaner with boiling water. Drain cleaners are the same as oven cleaners—avoid them. I also clean out my washing machine with vinegar (run it through a cycle once a month).
Vinegar is the best window cleaner I have ever found. I have tried every tip and method for my windows. I have a large picture window in my living room that birds like to use as a bathroom. Everything leaves a smeared effect except a water/vinegar (half and half ) solution. I use old rags from torn-up T-shirts. You can also clean your microwave, kettle, eyeglasses, and lunch boxes with this wonder substance.