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Green Cleaning Supplies

Part of the Green Your Home All-in-One For Dummies Cheat Sheet

One way to create a greener home environment is to steer clear of commercially formulated cleaning products, which all basically contain the same unhealthy ingredients. Keep these green cleaning alternatives in your house instead:

  • Baking soda: Sodium bicarbonate cleans up after acidic stains and messes, works as a mild abrasive, shines up aluminum, chrome, silver, and other metals, and unclogs and cleans drains. It cuts grease and dirt and also deodorizes.

  • Borax: Another member of the sodium family (sodium borate), this natural mineral is a disinfectant and is sold at drugstores, supermarkets, and hardware and supply stores.

  • Castor oil: The colorless or sometimes yellowish oil, from the castor plant, is a fine lubricant and a worthy ingredient in wood cleaners or polishes.

  • Cornstarch: Just as its name implies, this mild and absorbent cleaner is a starch derived from corn.

  • Cornmeal: Set aside some the next time you’re making corn muffins: This mildly abrasive substance makes easy work of grease stains.

  • Club soda: Have a big bottle of bubbly on hand for cleaning glass or tackling wine spills on carpet.

  • Cream of tartar: This white crystalline powder sold in the spice section of supermarkets whips up impressive meringue and makes a great paste for scrubbing cookware.

  • Essential oils: Tea tree, peppermint, grapefruit, and other oils (found in health-food or craft stores) not only smell great, but they have disinfecting properties, as well.

  • Glycerin: This common ingredient in hand-wash and dish liquid is an oil that provides lubrication and is often used in milder cleaners.

  • Hydrogen peroxide: An oxygen bleach that doesn’t have the harmful properties of chlorine bleach, this mild acid is used as an antiseptic for minor wounds and kills germs when it’s used as a cleaning agent, too.

  • Lemon juice: This citric acid bleaches, disinfects, deodorizes, and cuts grease. Use the real thing — or bottled concentrate.

  • Liquid castile soap: This vegetable-based soap, found in grocery or health-food stores, is a mild and versatile cleaning agent.

  • Salt: Another member of the sodium family, sodium chloride — or common table salt — is a natural scrubbing agent.

  • Washing soda: Also known as sodium carbonate, this stronger iteration of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) looks similar and is sometimes available in the laundry section of the supermarket or hardware store.

  • White distilled vinegar: Count on this wonder cleaner for deodorizing, cutting through grease, removing stains, and freshening.

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