Green cleaning has three basic components, according to the authors of "Clean Home, Green Home: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Eco-Friendly Homekeeping."
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Author Kimberly Delaney sets out to achieve those goals by explaining first the targets in her well-organized book. Chapters are devoted to different parts of the house, such as kitchen, bath, bedroom, basement, floors and laundry room. Also covered are pets, personal care products such as toothpaste, yards, and cars.
The author is an advocate of natural cleaning products, such as vinegar, borax, baking soda and castile soap (vegetable, no animal fat). Manufactured cleaning products, such as antibacterial products, can contain pesticides, dishwashing soap (phosphates), and artificial air sprays (petroleum-based materials).
She also explains the health hazards present in products and in the home, most especially dust. As she notes, getting rid of dust is relatively simple. Cleaning regularly and eliminating clutter where it collects can go a long way toward improving air quality and preventing toxins from sticking to the dust and getting inhaled into lungs.
Some other tips:
Leave shoes at the door to reduce the tracking of mud
Use washable lamp shades, not fluted or others with fancy designs that impede cleaning
Maintain and clean air filters
Use lavender or other natural sachets to cut the movement of fleas from pets
Try wool comforters instead of down to cut down on dust mites
Wax wood furniture with products containing paste
Store clothes with natural products, such as cedar strips
The book offers a number of recipes for smarter care:
Sealed wood floor damp-mop cleaning
1/8 cup castile soap
1/2 cup vinegar
2 gallons warm water
Optional: If you're cleaning up a spill that may have bacteria, add 10-20 drops of lavender, rosemary, tea tree or eucalyptus oil to mixture.
What is particularly good about this book is that it is organized into small chunks, lists of ideas and practical steps to take, rather than lengthy text written as a diatribe with a few tips mixed in. It's wide-ranging, with sharp, colorful photos to illustrate its points. When she criticizes one product, she offers alternatives.
If you're just looking to make small changes, you can. You're not obligated to search throughout the book for an outcome but rather can try one or two ideas that are quickly and easily available. This is an excellent book for someone thinking about changes, or in need of reinforcement for current practices.
We had been big in our house on vinegar/lemon/borax for cleaning for quite some time but gradually drifted away recently since it often seems simpler to grab the bottle of dish soap than the combination of natural products. But while writing this review, when summoned to clean up spilled garbage (thank you, dog!), I got the vinegar out again and am back on the path.
This is part of the Lean 'N Mean writeoff. Join in!