Make your own green cleaning products

August 20, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Household cleaners can be hazardous to your family's health. Protect your children by making greener cleaning products with only four cheap ingredients. . Jordana Gustafson, content manager for Sustainlane.com, explains what they are.

In 2005, the American Association of Poison Controls Centers reported 218,000 calls involving cleaning products. That's because a number of household cleaners are hazardous to your health as well as the environment.

While the average American family has eight cleaning products under the kitchen sink, green living site SustainLane.com recommends sticking to four simple ingredients for a healthier, safer, greener home. It's cheap and environmentally friendly DIY cleaning products using only borax, baking soda, white vinegar and lemon juice.

All purpose cleaner - Add 4 T baking soda to 1 quart warm water in a bucket. You can also try just baking soda on a damp sponge. It is slightly gritty and works well on a stove top. Thanks to the baking soda, this simple cleaner refreshes as well as cleans. The baking soda can either be fully blended or can leave behind a slightly gritty residue that helps scour up some spills and messes.

Glass Cleaner - Mix 1 T white vinegar or lemon juice and 1 quart of water in a spray bottle. Spray on a cloth or wad of newspaper to use. This mixture easily cleans windows, glass tabletops, mirrors and all other glass surfaces.

Fabric softener - Add 1/4 cup of baking soda or white vinegar to wash cycle. Using dryer sheets and fabric softeners add a lot of chemicals to your clothing, and create additional byproducts that enter into the environment-either through the trash or the plumbing system. Instead, add just ¼ cup white vinegar OR 1/4 cup baking soda during the wash cycle. This will naturally soften your clothing and eliminate the need for other additives.

Drain cleaner - First remove all hair and other built-up particles. Add 1/2 C. of baking soda followed by 1/2 C. of vinegar; cover and wait a few minutes. Follow with some boiling water.

Toilet bowl cleaner - Scrub with a paste of borax and lemon juice. Let sit as long as possible (2 hours is ideal). This removes stains and makes your toilet bowl fresh. Mixing together just borax and lemon juice, you create a strong disinfectant and deodorant. Putting this onto your toilet brush, you can rub this paste over water marks and dirt to eliminate stains and create a cleaner, fresher toilet bowl.

Pet urine stain remover - Mix a solution of 1/2 water and 1/2 white vinegar. Soak into stained area and work into stain with a brush. Let dry. Rugs trap in odors and can easily start to get a bit musty. By using just baking soda, you can fix this problem for a fresher smelling room. Just sprinkle a moderate amount of baking soda directly onto your rug. Let it sit for about 15 minutes and deodorize your rug. After that, just vacuum up the baking soda.

Rug deodorizer - Sprinkle baking soda directly on rug, wait 15 minutes and vacuum.

All of these cleaners cost just cents to make and take little room to store, and full recipes are available at www.sustainlane.com

About Sustainlane.com:
The largest user-generated Web guide to healthy, sustainable living, SustainLane.com invites visitors to share their success stories, special insights and tested tips to drive debate and inform fellow consumers on the best ways to lead environmentally conscious lives. Published by SustainLane Media, SustainLane.com has a dedicated and growing following of like-minded users who turn to the Web site for community, advice, news, product reviews and the nation's largest local green living directory, with 20K small business listings. SustainLane.com was founded in 2004 and is home to the Sustainable City Ranking, the most comprehensive and credible benchmarking of the state of sustainability in America, as well as the newly formed Green Collar Jobs Board.

About Jordana Gustafson:
As content manager for leading green living guide SustainLane.com, Jordana Gustafson actively shapes the consumer green experience-providing useful, relevant material that cuts through the clutter and gets to the heart of green matters. She writes and edits SustainLane editorial and reviews all user- and partner-generated content posted to the site. Jordana also serves as a SustainLane.com consumer content spokesperson, bringing her unique candor and perspective to outlets in San Francisco and beyond.

Previously, Jordana reported for NPR and Marketplace as a foreign correspondent based in Mexico. At WUNC-Chapel Hill, she was part of the duPont-Columbia award-winning team that produced the series North Carolina Voices: Understanding Poverty. She has reported for and contributed to numerous outlets, including the Boston Globe, the BBC, and This American Life. She also apprenticed in radio at WBUR-Boston.

Jordana is fluent in Spanish, has traveled on four continents, and has lived in Sweden, Vietnam, and Mexico. Currently residing in San Francisco, where SustainLane Media is headquartered, Jordana is a California native who received a B.A. at Connecticut College.

Since moving to San Francisco, where there is curbside, single-stream recycling and food scrap composting, Jordana estimates that her personal solid waste diversion rate is about 95 percent.


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