Ten Simple Ways to Clean Green

There are many benefits to making your own green cleaners. You may already have most of the ingredients in your cupboards. You’ll save money by not buying an array of expensive products, each targeted to clean only one type of surface in your home. And, in most cases, green cleaners work just as well as their commercial counterparts.

Perhaps the most compelling reason to use green cleaners is to keep potent toxins out of your home. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that many household cleaners contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde and harsh acids.

“Some [VOCs] can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans,” the agency says. Most modern chemical cleaners are, quite simply, overkill, notes the nonprofit Healthy Child Healthy World. “Atomic energy is not necessary to unclog a drain, nor are the Marines necessary to combat ants,” Jan Williams writes in Healthy Child Healthy World’s book Household Detective. “Most of the time, we can use milder, natural chemicals … to do the same jobs.”

Sure, you say, but who has time to make their own cleaners?

You do—with our help. Just ten basic ingredients that are probably already in your home will tackle most cleaning jobs. Your home will sparkle, germs will still run in fear from your sponges and rags, and your indoor air will be better than ever.

The Basic Ten

Stock your cupboards with these ten products, and you can clean just about anything:

  1. White vinegar: An antifungal that also kills germs and bacteria.
  2. Baking soda: Eliminates odors and works as a gentle scouring powder.
  3. Borax: this is the common name for the natural mineral compound sodium borate, eliminates odors, removes dirt, and acts as an antifungal and possible disinfectant. Use with care around children and pets, as it can be toxic if swallowed.
  4. Hydrogen peroxide (3% concentration): A great nontoxic bleach and stain remover, as well as a proven disinfectant.
  5. Club soda (fresh): A stain remover and polisher.
  6. Lemon juice: A pleasant-smelling nontoxic bleach, grease-cutter, and stain remover.

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