>Before I had kids, I didn’t think much about the chemicals we used every day (me, in excess, especially with cleaners), how much we wasted, or how much trash we produced. Recycling wasn’t a big deal to me. After my first daughter was born, things change. I had a sort of awakening – to some extent- and things became more of a priority that I’d previously not thought twice about before. It really wasn’t until my 2nd was born and hit about 5 months of age when I kind of woke up one morning and thought, “What have I been DOING? What kind of world will I leave my kids if I keep doing this?” That, my friends, became the start of my new path- one I’d peeked down before, but never really explored.
I’ve since had another baby, and have learned that the ‘new’ path of greener, more conscious living- its not so much a path as a journey in and of itself. I make almost all of our household cleaners, we recycle anything and everything that we are not able to reuse somehow, and we’re 99% in cloth diapers. (Hey, I have 3 kids. Diaper wash day sneaks up on me sometimes. I use gDiaper inserts on those days or Seventh Generation disposables).
Being “green” is really not as hard or complicated as you might think. I promise, it won’t hurt a bit.
Here are some of my tips for having a greener, cleaner home:
1. Less is more. Really. If you buy your cleaners- you can dilute them by half and they’ll still be as effective as at full strength. Even if you don’t want to change your cleaners, simply by diluting the solution, you’ll go through bottles of it slower, and therefore, use less packaging. I promise you, its ok.
2. Try making ONE cleaning solution. Just one. Got wood floors? Just for fun, put 1 oz white vinegar per 10 oz water. Don’t like the smell of vinegar? (You’ll get used to it). Grab some essential oils, and make your favorite scent. I love, and I mean LOVE, the citrus-y essential oils for cleaning. It just perks my mood up and makes the house smell great. So you made the vinegar/water/essential oil- now what? Clean your floor!! Its just as effective as a cleaner, and its safe for your baby, your toddler, your older kids, the dog, and the cat to breathe in, to walk on, to roll on. See? It’s not so bad!!
3. Want to know a really well kept secret? Replacing your “Jet-Dry” type products with white vinegar in your dishwasher in the rinse aid section is not only non-toxic, but its safe for you, safe for your family and safe for the environment. I don’t think I need to go into how much money you can save just by switching this one thing- nor how many chemicals you WON’T be adding into your dishwasher water!!
4. Baking soda is a fantastic non-abrasive replacement for products like Comet or Soft Scrub. Yes, I am serious, and I stand behind that. I have a few older glass “Shaky Cheese” (Parmesean Cheese) jars, one in each of our bathrooms- in them you will find baking soda and some essential oil. (I put a paper towel between the lid and the baking soda to not make a mess). I use this to scrub things off my counters, off of my sinks- and it smells divine.
5. If you take the mixture from #4 and add a little Castille soap into the mix, you can actually clean your tub and shower- quickly, safely, and without chemicals.
6. Making your own laundry soap is quite simple. There are recipes all over the internet. Saves a ton and you can keep reusing the same packaging over and over!!
7. Buy some super absorbent cloths- like Skoy, or Shamwow type things. Each cloth will replace dozens of paper towel rolls- saving you money, and reducing packaging waste.
8. Need rags? Use stained tshirts, towels, etc. and cut them up. The burp cloths a lot of parents have for their babies are great for cleaning as well (when they are not used for the baby any longer, of course!)
9. Buy soy candles, or use a wickless candle system. Traditional candles, when burning and while extinguishing, leave a nasty residue on your walls. Soy candles don’t (or at least, leave less) and wickless candles have the benefits of a scented candle without the burning. No mess left behind means less cleaning.
10. Got wet pet smell? Take the jar from #4 and shake it onto your rug, mattress or furniture, and let it sit for half an hour. Vaccuum it up. Works like a charm to absorb odors, and if you’ve added the essential oils, the room smells nice and your vaccuum will too!
11. Borax is great to clean your toilets. We put 1/4 cup borax into the bowl, scrub, shut the lid and let it sit overnight. It works wonderfully.
12. Buy plant based cleaners. Sure, I think its easy to make cleaners, and do things myself, but not everyone has the time nor the desire to do so. There are TONS of great, earth friendly, non-toxic cleaning products out on the marketplace today (including Mrs. Meyers!!) that are just as effective as traditional cleaners.
People often have the idea that ‘green’ cleaners cost more, which may be the case, but when you look at the overall benefits with less packaging, less waste, less chemicals, etc., then it quickly becomes worth a few extra pennies. I have found that signing up for company emails when I like their product will often get me monthly newsletters including special money saving coupons, or a phone call, email, letter to a company telling them why I like their products will often result in some money saving coupons showing up in my mailbox.
I hope that you may consider even just ONE of these tips, even just one time, and that you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how effective, safe, and pleasant! a greener, cleaner home can be.
I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Mrs. Meyer’s blogging program, making me eligible to get a $30 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.