Recently, a household cleaning conundrum surfaced in the home – how to clean out a hummingbird feeder made of glass with only a tiny opening on top. Mold had gathered internally while containing sugar water during a humid summer, almost completely blackening the sides of the glass. Boiling the glass container managed to remove some of the black mold, but it was still very unappealing and unappetizing, even for a hummingbird. In one last effort to resuscitate the container (recycling is still throwing things away), the natural eco-friendly household tip occurred: vinegar and baking soda. The volcanic mixture “scrubbed” the sides of that glass container, and with a couple of vigorous shakes, the glass jar was spotless (see picture at right).
In Green Cleaning: Natural Hints and Tips For the Eco-Friendly Household by Margaret Briggs and Vivian Head, they offer directions for four basic household materials and all of the green and economically savvy uses for them. The four main ingredients are vinegar, baking soda, lemons and salt (as well as a small section on tea tree oil and borax). These ideas range from kitchen, bathroom, and household uses to garden and outdoor tips including environmentally friendly ways to combat plants, bugs and fungi than invade house and yard. The book includes a short human history of these products: vinegar has been in use for 10,000 years, lemons have been used for contraception (not recommended), and salt has historically “been the cause of wars, uprisings, and revolutions… used as money, and has been a powerful force in the economic rise and fall of civilizations” (p.144).
Some great ideas included in Green Cleaning:
Keeping flies away from horses – Mix 1/3 vinegar (any type, but cider vinegar smells better), 1/3 water and 1/3 bath oil in a spray bottle. This makes a good fly spray for horses and other animals—dogs and goats for example—as well as a barn spray for keeping flies down. (p. 54)
Flushing with Soda – Every month or so, sprinkle a little baking soda into the toilet tank and let stand overnight. Flush in the morning and you, too, will flush with pride! (p. 92)
Poison Ivy – Kill poison ivy by adding 3 pounds of salt to 1 gallon of soapy water and spray it onto the leaves and stems. (p.153)
Tupperware – If your plastic containers have become contaminated or stained, squeeze some lemon juice into the container and then add some baking soda. Use the lemon as a cleaning tool and work it in. If the stains are particularly bad, you can let it sit overnight before you scrub the stains. (p.129)
Removing and preventing fleas – adding cider vinegar to drinking water discourages fleas from setting up home on dogs and cats. Start with just a few drops so that your pets get used to the taste, then build up a little , to a teaspoon per bowl for a small animal, to a tablespoon for a larger pet. (p. 53)
This book is beneficial to anyone who is looking to detoxify their home and reduce their environmental footprint on the earth. Green Cleaning is full of completely natural ideas that are both simple and economically sound.