24 Tips for Cleaning the Natural Way

natural cleaning

Pesticides and harsh cleaning chemicals are damaging to the environment, but they’re also dangerous to you and your family. Even though the products are safe to purchase, these chemicals have been known to cause breathing problems and skin irritations when used incorrectly or over a long period of time.

In 2013, the most common poisons for children under six years old were cosmetics and personal care products, with cleaners coming in second. These two categories account for 25 percent of the reported 16,655 exposures. Even if you have older children, daily exposure isn’t good for them. Here are some recipes and tips for cleaning more naturally when you’re ready to make the change to green living.

For the Indoors

  1. Cleaning Glass: For a glass cleaner, use one-quarter cup of white vinegar to a quart of water in a spray bottle. Wipe it off with a lint-free cloth that is reusable.
  2. All-Purpose Cleaner: If you’re looking for an all-purpose cleaner, use one part vinegar to one part water. Use this on floors, countertops, and mirrors for cleaning without chemicals.
  3. Removing Oil Stains: Sometimes, you need a soft scrub material to get oil or stains off your stove or counter. Mix two cups of baking soda with one-half cup of liquid castile soap. Four teaspoons of vegetable glycerin will act as a preservative, but if you plan to use it quickly, you don’t necessarily need this element. You could also add an antibacterial essential oil for a cleaner aroma.
  4. Furniture Polish: Although most people don’t use furniture polish too often, you can make your own. Use one-quarter cup each of olive oil and white vinegar, mixed with two teaspoons of lemon juice. Use a clean cloth that you dip in this solution and rub the wood in the direction of the grain. If you have an intricate design, work with a soft brush.
  5. Freshener: Baking soda is a great cleaner and freshener. Sprinkle your toilet brush with it to clean the bowl and keep the brush from smelling between cleanings. Use baking soda on your grill or on pans that have baked on residue.
  6. Rug Cleaning: You can freshen up your rugs with baking soda. Sprinkle the baking soda over the intended area, wait at least 15 minutes or so, then vacuum it up. For stronger odors, leave on overnight.
  7. Detergent: Use one cup of baking soda in your laundry with your liquid detergent to make your clothes cleaner.
  8. cat litter
  9. Freshening Cat Litter: Baking soda absorbs odors in your trash can or kitty litter box. Sprinkle the powder in the bottom of the container before filling it with the litter. This will keep the litter bin smelling fresher for longer.
  10. Cleaning the Dishwasher: You can clean your dishwasher by running an empty cycle with just baking soda.
  11. Drain Cleaner: Instead of drain cleaner, put one cup of baking soda and one cup of hot vinegar down the drain. Don’t panic when it bubbles up–this is supposed to happen. When the reaction stops, flush the mixture down the drain with plenty of hot water so that the acid doesn’t damage your pipes.
  12. Kill Mold and Mildew: White distilled vinegar is an excellent antiseptic for mold and mildew instead of bleach.
  13. Fresh Aroma: Use essential oils to provide nice aromas to your home. Put a few drops on a cotton ball and set it in a small glass bowl in the room.
  14. Disinfectant: For a disinfectant spray, mix two teaspoons of borax with four tablespoons of vinegar. Add three cups of hot water. Place this mixture in a spray bottle.
  15. Reusable Sponges: For green living, don’t use disposable cleaning rags. Get sponges that are made of recycled material. Find reusable and washable cleaning cloths made of natural fibers. Keep them on hand in every room for quick clean-ups. Wash them often.
  16. Absorb Stains: Corn meal acts on carpet spills to absorb wet stains.
  17. Polisher: Everyone knows that club soda makes a great stain remover on clothes, but you can also use club soda to polish stainless steel.
  18. Grease Remover: If you need to cut through grease on your stove or countertop quickly, a bit of lemon juice will do the trick. Lemon juice also is a stain remover on countertops.
  19. Bathroom Cleaner: Tea tree oil is another natural disinfectant. Mix two teaspoons tea tree oil with one pint of water for a powerful cleaner for toilets and bathtubs. For a multipurpose cleaner, use one quart of water with 15 drops.
  20. lemon and baking soda

    If you do have to purchase household cleaners, be sure to look for non-toxic products that are biodegradable or natural. There are a number of new products that are eco-friendly, but you may have to read the labels to find them.

    For the Outdoors

    You can use the same type of natural cleaning products outside on your sidewalk and in your garden. There are a number of items that you have in your kitchen to keep away insects and rodents without using harmful pesticides and chemicals that not only get on your grass and flowers, but also get into the groundwater. Keep your pets, children and the environment safe with these tips for your garden:

  21. Kill Ants: Soapy water sprayed on ants or house flies will kill them. This is more effective with small infestations. Alternatively, a spray of white vinegar and water will kill the ants’ scent trails, making them unable to find their way. You can also use the drain cleaning solution of baking soda and vinegar on ant hills to destroy them.
  22. Avoid Maggots: If you have maggots on your trash cans, hot water will kill them just as effectively as a pesticide.
  23. Protect Plants: If you have mites or mealybugs on your plants, make a solution of one tablespoon of oil, a few drops of liquid soap, and one quart of water. Spray this solution on the leaves to smother the bugs.
  24. Prevent Mites: Small infestations of mites can be eliminated with rubbing alcohol. Dab on with a cotton ball.
  25. Deter Slugs: Dealing with slugs and snails in your garden is problematic. Keep them out with a barrier of crushed eggshells, hair (dog or human), or seaweed. They won’t travel over these things to get into your flowers and vegetables. Seaweed is a great fertilizer, too.
  26. Compost: Instead of using commercial fertilizer, start a compost pile. It reduces your carbon footprint in other ways, because instead of putting vegetable peels or coffee grounds in your garbage can, they get recycled in your garden.

4 Appliances that Increase Your Home Energy Bill

Home Computer

See how these four appliances are siphoning money from your wallet.

When you get your energy bill in the mail, do you ever wonder which one of your appliances is the biggest drain on your wallet? While your furnace and air conditioners are the biggest culprits, you might be surprised by the amount of power some of your smaller, everyday appliances are using.

We’ve previously discussed a few home improvements that will cut your energy bills, but here we’ve outlined a list of the top four most surprising appliances that are jacking up your energy bill. We’ve also included a few quick tips to keep these surprising energy-eaters in check.
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10 Ways to Save Energy While Cooking & Preparing Meals

Preparing Dinner

Almost everyone wants to save on their monthly energy bills. From turning off your lights to using a portable air conditioner, conserving energy and cutting down on your utility bills is easier than you might think. One way you might not have considered, is to conserve energy while cooking and preparing meals at home. Not only will this make a big difference over time, it’ll save you quite a bit of money.

It is highly important to understand your cooking habits and recognize that energy efficient kitchen appliances might not help much if you do not know how to use them properly. Additionally, it might not be realistic to purchase an entire new set of kitchen appliances, even if you do not currently have a convection oven, which is on average about 20 percent more efficient than a traditional oven.

You might be surprised at how easy going green can be. You also might be surprised to learn that saving energy while cooking can actually save time and make your life easier. Below are 10 quick and easy ways can save energy, cut your utility bills and still make delicious meals while cooking.
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The Benefits of Portable Washers

Most people are still under the impression that there are only two options when it comes to laundry, both of which may be very inconvenient under a number of circumstances. Many homeowners like the convenience of a traditional washer and dryer, but many do not have the space or proper connections if your home or apartment is older. Though it’s usually the fall back plan, bringing laundry to a Laundromat can be inconvenient, time-consuming, and costly.

With the advent of portable washers, there is now another alternative to investing in a traditional washer and dryer set or lugging laundry to the laundromat. These compact washers do not need very much space at all, and there are many benefits that come along with owning a portable washer.

These machines allow homeowners with no extra room to have an alternative to using the laundromat. They are also a very cost efficient and energy efficient option, perfect for small spaces or for people who travel frequently.

Portable Washers: A Compact Alternative

While there are many different options for this type of washer, for the most part, they are compact, top-loading and do not require a connection to a water line. They are generally smaller than 3 feet high, with most of them having a depth of about 2 feet.

As there are a variety of options, the weight of each unit will vary; some weigh less than 50 pounds, while others check in at over 100 pounds. The water capacity of these washers also varies, though the range generally falls somewhere between 1 and 2 cubic feet. There are several settings available for these washers, and while each unit will vary, most offer settings for the level of water, the cycle, and the speed.
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Homeowner’s Guide to Saving Money & Energy [INFOGRAPHIC]

In honor of Earth Day, we wanted to bring some extra attention to a few of the little things that homeowners can do to cut their energy use around their home, and ultimately save money.

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Ask any homeowner and they’ll tell you that owning a home isn’t easy… or cheap. But, that doesn’t mean you have to spend an outrageous amount of money to own and maintain your home. There are many things you can do to cut down your energy usage, which not only helps save you money but also the environment.

From using the right appliances in your home to switching to double-pane windows, our guide will show you just how easy it is to save money and cut your overall energy usage at the same time.
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How To Lower Your Energy Bills With A Portable Air Conditioner

During the “Dog Days” of summer, people tend to look for ways to cool off. Some visit a local swimming pool to spend the day in the water. Others seek out a movie theater that has good air conditioning. Shopping malls are also a great choice for people who are looking to cool off during the summer. When these same people go home, however, they rely on their air conditioning units to cool down their homes so that they can relax and not feel the oppressive heat from the outside.

Portable Air Conditioner AP12000S

With energy prices skyrocketing around the country, many homeowners are now being forced to make a choice between a comfortably cool home and a low power bill. This is because many who rely on central air notice that their electricity bill increases dramatically during the months they are running their air conditioner. One way to keep cool and still keep a lower electric bill is by using a portable air conditioner.

Energy Efficient

Portable air conditioning units are much more energy efficient than central air. This is mainly because they can be moved from room to room based on which area needs to be cooled down.

A central air conditioning unit is built to cool the entire home, no matter which room a person might be in. By using the portable unit, you will be using electricity to cool only those rooms that people are using.
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Living Green for Earth Day

Earth Day is Sunday, April 22, and to help bring awareness, we’re going to discuss two things you can implement in your home to help the environment.


Compost consists of organic matter that has been decomposed down into a rich, fertilized soil. Because of its nutrients, it serves great use in organic farming and gardening. There are several benefits to composting at home, including the reduction of wasted space at landfills and its use in your own lawn and garden.

Compost BinComposting, the process of creating compost, requires four things to effectively decompose the organic matter: carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and water. An easy way to keep your compost healthy is to provide a 50/50 mix of dry, brown material and wet, green material. The process will require you to mix the pile often to provide oxygen. You should also make sure it gets enough moisture, otherwise the decomposition process will take longer.

There are several options to get started with composting at home. You could get a large wooden like the one pictured (Exaco ECO Composter), a taller, black bin like this GeoBin which is easy to setup and affordable, or a solar heated cone system that comes with a kitchen caddy as well. Explore these and other composters on our site.

What Can I Compost?

Here are some examples of thing you can compost. Remember to try and feed your compost with a good 50/50 mix of dry, brown and wet, green materials. Really, almost everything that was living at some point can be composted, but some things may take longer to decompose.

FruitDry/Brown (Carbon-rich material)

– Fall leaves
– Small twigs and branches
– Paper coffee filters
– Shredded paper (newspaper, office paper, etc.)
– Paper towels
– Wood chips

Wet/Green (Nitrogen-rich material)

– Fruit and vegetable peels (or whole ones that have gone bad)
– Coffee grounds
– Tea bags
– Egg shells
– Plant trimmings and fresh leaves
– Cooked plain rice or pasta

Depending on the size of your compost, you could have rich soil ready to go in 3-4 months, or 5-6 months for larger piles.

Rain Water Collection

Rain BarrelAnother way to help the environment and save you money is to implement a rain water collection system (also called rain harvesting). The concept is that you collect excess rainwater from your home gutters during times of heavy rainfall and store it for use in your lawn and garden, especially through times of drought and water restrictions. Environmentally, you help lessen the amount of flooding that occurs on streets and lessen the amount of pollution that reaches our oceans through rainwater run-off. The run-off carries pesticides, oil and harmful, inorganic materials. Another added benefit is the use of rain water in your garden, where you’re feeding your plants soft water that doesn’t contain added minerals. Your plants will be happier!

The most common solution is a barrel that sits below your drainage gutters of your home. The barrel comes with a faucet where you can easily hook up your hose. They come in different colors and sizes to blend into its environment. For extra storage, you have the ability to connect multiple barrels together as well. Browse our selection of rain barrels on our site.

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For more ways to go green this year for Earth Day, check out our Pinterest board, Living Green!