The cleaning aisle in the grocery store has it all: oils, powders, sprays, and soaps — most of which contain chemicals and strong preservatives that some researchers believe are bad for your health.

Air fresheners and home cleaning products are common offenders when it comes to cancer-causing carcinogens. For parents wanting to avoid as many toxic ingredients as they can and involve their children in house cleaning chores, there is good news! Much of it consists of going back to the basics when it comes to mopping, dusting, and shining. Use these 7 steps to get back to cleaning green:

1. Cleaning from the tap. Got grime? Hot, hot water is the most basic cleaner. Don your rubber gloves, fill a bowl full of hot water, and use a rag to clean sticky spots on the kitchen floor, wipe grimy fingerprints off the fridge, and freshen up a counter top.

2. Make friends with vinegar. Vinegar is a staple ingredient in homemade cleaners. Many recipes include essential oils to help with its pungent odor. Mixing it with Borax or other natural powder detergents is a common recommendation that also helps with the vinegar smell and makes the cleaner a more effective product.

3. Bring on the baking soda. Baking soda acts as a great, low-odor scrubbing material for kitchen countertop stains and bathtub soap scum. Adding lemon juice or vinegar to the soda produces the fizzing result that can help clean drains. Baking soda is also a great odor neutralizer and can be used along with hot vinegar and boiling water to help unclog a stopped-up drain.

4. Brush it. Keep old toothbrushes under bathroom sinks for scrubbing around cracks and faucets, and in the laundry room for scrubbing stain-remover into clothing spots before washing.

5. Light up. Soy candles and beeswax candles offer home owners all natural solutions for scent control.

6. Use house plants as air cleaners.

7. Don't just cook with oil. Use it for a variety of cleaning jobs in your home — from polishing furniture to shining sinks, to protecting your cast iron cookware.

Expert Tips

The original green cleaning queen, Heloise, has offered home makers everywhere information and hints about how to clean everything from their kitchen sink to how to remove smelly pet odors from carpets.

For inexpensive and environmental-friendly cleaning in the kitchen, she suggests keeping a large container of 3% hydrogen peroxide on hand:

"It has multiple uses: sanitize plastic cutting boards, wipe off dirty can opener blades and to kill bacteria in the drain. Be aware that it may lighten surfaces."

She also suggests using salt for scrubbing stained mugs and cutting boards — a great alternative to dish soap.

Natural Cleaning Resources:

 

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This post was included in the latest edition of the Everything Home Blog Carnival.