The annual Earth Day celebration on April 22 might inspire you to live greener—maybe you'll consider buying an electric or hybrid car to replace your gas guzzler, replace energy-hog incandescent lightbulbs with efficient CFLs or LEDs, or exchange your gas-powered mower for an electric model.
When it comes to spring cleaning and household chores in general, you can work greener by concocting your own greener cleaners from some basic ingredients. Bonus: These environmentally friendly products will save you money.
Keep the following in mind: Don't mix chlorine bleach with toilet-bowl cleaner or ammonia as it could produce dangerous fumes. Don't mix bleach with vinegar because the combination increases the potency of bleach, which could damage certain materials. Add water to a bucket or spray bottle first, then pour in ammonia, bleach, or other items. This way there's less chance that the caustic material will fly out if there's splash back.
And if you usually use contacts, wear glasses instead when handling these products since contacts can absorb vapors and hold them against the eye, causing irritation or damage.
1. Freshen up
Make your own air freshener using 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of vinegar (or lemon juice), and 2 cups of hot water. Pour mix into a spray bottle and spritz away. White vinegar has a slight scent while wet, but it leaves no odor after drying.
2. All-purpose cleaner
Soapy ammonia is a versatile cleaning agent. You can use it in place of a commercial all-purpose cleaner for everyday kitchen and bathroom cleaning. Dilute according to the instructions on the container.
3. Window and glass cleaner
Just add 3 tablespoons of vinegar per 1 quart of water in a spray bottle and you have a safe, eco-friendly window cleaner. Some recommend using half vinegar and half water. For extra-dirty windows try this: ½ teaspoon of liquid soap, 3 tablespoons of vinegar, and 2 cups of water. Shake well. The best way to get streak-free windows? Use newspaper instead of paper towels to wipe them.
4. Stains and spots
Cream of tartar lifts stains from sinks and tubs, and removes spots from aluminum pans. A mild alternative to chlorine bleach that can be used for stain removal and mild bleaching and killing germs, this common baking ingredient is available in drug stores and supermarkets.