While many cleaning products today are labeled "green," the term is not regulated and may or may not be an accurate description of the product, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The greenest cleaning products are ones that are made with ingredients that are safe for human consumption. Using products made from natural ingredients, such as baking soda, vinegar, essential oils and lemon juice, can keep your home free from chemical pollutants and airborne toxins, but it can also protect the smallest members of your household, such as your kids and pets.
Baking soda is a natural cleaning product. Its natural properties make it ideal for scrubbing tougher stains that you might find on dirty pots and pans or the toilet. Baking soda can be mixed with a small amount of water to form a simple scrubbing paste that can be used on nearly any surface. Mixing baking soda with a solution of water and vinegar can create a basic cleaning solution that is perfect for smooth surfaces. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer which makes it perfect for deep-cleaning the refrigerator or for cleaning surfaces in the bathroom or inside the toilet bowl.
Vinegar is one of the most versatile cleaning products you can have in your home. If you haven’t used vinegar for cleaning before, you may be concerned that it will leave a strong smell behind. This is not the case. The vinegar smell quickly dissipates once the vinegar dries. Distilled white vinegar is one of the most affordable options for cleaning, and it can be used on almost any surface in your home. Vinegar can be used straight to disinfect kitchen counters or mixed with water as an all-purpose cleaning solution, according to the Heinz Vinegar website. Vinegar has almost endless uses as a household cleaner and can be used for everything from basic cleaning tasks to specific cleaning jobs, such as using it to shine kitchen fixtures or remove stains from the carpet.
Salt is naturally abrasive and can be used as an effective cleaner for pots and pans that require a little extra scrubbing. Cast iron pans can be effectively cleaned using salt, as can most stainless steel pans. Avoid using in on any pans with a non-stick surface because the salt can scratch softer surfaces. Sprinkle salt on a freshly cut lemon and use that to rub down the counter tops or metal pans. Salt can also be used as a natural body wash instead of using chemically based bath products.
Fresh lemons add a wonderful smell to any cleaning task, and their natural disinfectant properties make them an ideal green cleaner, according to the Sunkist website. Lemon juice can be added to a vinegar and water solution and used as an all-purpose cleaner. Lemon slices can be used instead of sponges for wiping down the kitchen counter or scrubbing dishes. Sprinkle a small amount of salt or baking soda on the lemon slice, depending on the cleaning task at hand. Used lemons slices can be put down the garbage disposal to deodorize the kitchen sink.
Many essential oils have disinfectant and antibacterial properties. While essential oils are more expensive than most natural cleaning ingredients, a little goes a long way. One bottle is likely to last you for a long time. Most health food stores carry essential oils, but you can find good quality oils online as well. Tea tree oil is a favorite ingredient in many homemade green cleaning products. Its natural antiseptic properties make it perfect for cleaning the kitchen or bathroom. A few drops of tea tree oil in the bathwater will not only help clean the tub, but it will also heal any open skin sores as you soak. Lavender oil is another natural antiseptic that can be added to any cleaning solution to enhance its effectiveness and add a scent.