Today is Earth Day. What better day to think about the impact we make on our planet? But with a busy life and a thousand competing priorities, how can you make a difference? Well, one way is to start at home. Little by little, you can create positive change and walk with a lighter footprint on this beautiful planet. Let’s see how.
So how can you help the earth? It can be as easy as fixing a leaky faucet because just one drop per second wastes over 1,300 gallons per year! Or, check that your car tires are properly inflated to save gas. Did you know that Americans waste over 700 million gallons of gas each year just due to underinflated tires?
You can walk, hike and ride a bike, eat less meat for dinner or plant a tree. Pulling weeds rather than using herbicides will get you outside burning calories and at the same time protect bees and other vulnerable pollinators.
And, we all know we love a clean house. So go green when you clean! Cutting down on harsh chemicals that you use in your household is not only good for the environment but good for you and your wallet. If you’re not sure how to start here are 6 effective cleaning products that you can make yourself with items already in your cabinets and a few essential oils you can pick up at your local drugstore. .
1. All Purpose scrub – Believe it or not you can make a simple scrub that rivals the commercial kind without the harsh chemicals. The “scrub” in this recipe comes from the abrasive qualities of baking soda while the acidy of the lemon and cleaning power of castile soap cuts through grease and grime. Marthastewart.com
- ½ cup of baking soda
- plant based liquid soap like castile
- ½ of a lemon.
Instructions: Pour baking soda into a bowl, add just enough liquid soap to make a creamy paste, spread mixture on the flat side of a lemon and scrub. Use a damp rag or sponge to wipe away any residue.
2. Natural Disinfecting spray – the vodka acts as the disinfectant in this spray while the essential oils add a nice smell. Customize this recipe with other favorite essential oils like rose, bergamot, jasmine, or cedar wood.
- ½ cup vodka
- ½ cup of water
- 15 drops of rosemary essential oil
- 25 drops of wild orange essential oil
- 15 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
- 15 drops of lavender oil.
Instructions: Use glass spray bottle shake frequently while cleaning.
3. Bleach Alternative – It may be hard to break free of your bleach bottle if you rely on it for cleaning. It is toxic to humans and wildlife and not to mention the toxic gas it produces when mixed accidentally with ammonia. It wouldn’t hurt to try an alternative. The hydrogen peroxide in this recipe is the disinfectant hero as well as a whitener and the citric acid will help to whiten clothes. If you make this use a dark jug or dark spray bottle to store because light breaks down the hydrogen peroxide.
4. Glass Cleaner – You don’t need the blue stuff to clean your windows if you’ve got these ingredients in your cabinets. You may be surprised to see vodka in this recipe but it plays a major role here. The vodka takes the place of isopropanol, a chemical like rubbing alcohol which is in most glass cleaning products. Because vodka contains ethanol it acts the same as isopropanol by dissolving dirt and grime and drying quickly. The vinegar adds strength to the spray as a grease cutter and if you like the smell of it you can skip the essential oil. And, of course you can always add a few drops of blue food coloring just for the fun of it. Since Vinegar can etch marble it is best to use only on windows and mirrors. The unsophisticook.com calls it the “Best Dang Homemade Glass Cleaner“!
- 1 ¼ cups of distilled water
- ½ cup of 80-proof vodka
- ¼ white vinegar
- 8-10 drops of essential oil.
Instructions: Using a silicone funnel pour the distilled water, vodka and white vinegar into a glass spray bottle. Add 8-10 drops of essential oil and close nozzle. Shake well and use on windows and mirrors.
5. Tea Tree Toilet bowl scrub – Use the antibacterial properties of tea tree oil to kill germs in the bowl and on toilet surfaces, you will definitely helping the earth when flushing away germs with this non-toxic cleaner.
- ½ cup of baking soda
- 1 cup of distilled white vinegar
- ½ teaspoon tea tree essential oil.
Instructions: Combine vinegar and essential oil in a small spray bottle and spray mixture inside bowl, and on toilet seat lid and handle, allow cleaner to sit for several minutes, sprinkle baking soda inside toilet bowl and scrub inside the bowl with toilet brush. Wipe down seat, lid and handle.
6. Homemade wood polishing spray – This simple but effective polishing spray will have your wood surfaces looking amazing in no time without toxic chemicals. Olive oil will bring out the luster of the wood while the vinegar breaks down old wax buildup.
- ¾ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- 30 drops of essential oil – lemon, orange, lavender
Did you know?
- Lemon is a very strong food acid and is effective against most household bacteria, mildew and mold, cuts grease and shines hard surfaces. Rub lemon and course salt on wooden cutting boards to best clean and disinfect!
- Vodka can be used as a disinfectant and can kill mold and mildew. It can also absorb odors. (and leftovers go well with tonic and lime!)
- Castile soap is made from 100 percent plant oils so it’s safe to use when green cleaning. (But don’t mix with acids like vinegar – it reduces the strength and leaves a hard-to-remove white film behind)
- White Vinegar – cuts grease, removes mildew, odors, some stains and wax buildup. Another great use… when you need to remove price tags and stickers from walls.
- Houseplants reduce odors
- Instead of spraying air freshener simmer some water and cinnamon or other spices on the stovetop
- Vodka can be substituted for vinegar in green cleaning recipes if you don’t like the smell of vinegar (hmmm, another vodka solution?!)
- Dirty Microwave? Try this simple fix. Pour some vinegar in a glass cup and add some lemon juice. Heat the microwave for 2 minutes and let the steam do its work, then wipe down inside microwave walls. No chemicals needed!
- Use baking soda as a scouring powder for the top of the stove or other surfaces that should not be scratched. Apply directly with a damp sponge.
- Baking soda has proven virus-killing abilities and cleans, deodorizes, brightens and cuts through grease and grime.
Let us know if you try any of these and of course share with us your favorite green cleaning recipe. Happy Earth Day!