Green Cleaning Feature BBC Radio Scotland Wednesday 16th March 2005

Vinegar
Uses:
Vinegar naturally cleans like an all-purpose cleaner. Mix a solution of 1 part water to 1 part vinegar in a new store bought spray bottle and you have a solution that will clean most areas of your home. Vinegar is a great natural cleaning product as well as a disinfectant and deodorizer. Always test on an inconspicuous area.
It is safe to use on most surfaces and has the added bonus of being incredibly cheap. Improperly diluted vinegar is acidic and can eat away at tile grout. Never use vinegar on marble surfaces. Don't worry about your home smelling like vinegar. The smell disappears when it dries. Here are some uses for vinegar in the rooms of your

house. Use it in the…
1. Bathroom - Clean the bathtub, toilet, sink, and countertops. Use pure vinegar in the toilet bowl to get rid of rings. Flush the toilet to allow the water level to go down. Pour the undiluted vinegar around the inside of the rim. Scrub down the bowl. Mop the floor in the bathroom with a vinegar/water solution. The substance will also eat away the soap scum and hard water stains on your fixtures and tile. Make sure it is safe to use with your tile.
2. Kitchen- Clean the stovetop, appliances, countertops, and floor.
3. Laundry Room- Use vinegar as a natural fabric softener. This can be especially helpful for families who have sensitive skin. Add ½ cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle in place of store bought fabric softener. Vinegar has the added benefit of breaking down laundry detergent more effectively. (A plus when you have a family member whose skin detects every trace of detergent.)
Lemon Juice
Uses:
Lemon juice is another natural substance that can be used to clean your home. Lemon juice can be used to dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits. Lemon is a great substance to clean and shine brass and copper. Lemon juice can be mixed with vinegar and or baking soda to make cleaning pastes. Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle baking soda on the cut section. Use the lemon to scrub dishes, surfaces, and stains. Mix 1 cup olive oil with ½ cup lemon juice and you have a furniture polish for your hardwood furniture.
My favorite use for the fruit is to put a whole lemon peel through the garbage disposal. It freshens the drain and the kitchen. Orange peels can be used with the same results.
Baking Soda
Uses:
Baking soda can be used to scrub surfaces in much the same way as commercial abrasive cleansers. Baking soda is great as a deodorizer. Place a box in the refrigerator and freezer to absorb odors. Put it anywhere you need deodorizing action. Try these three kitchen ingredients as natural cleaning products in your home.
house. Use it in the…
1. Bathroom - Clean the bathtub, toilet, sink, and countertops. Use pure vinegar in the toilet bowl to get rid of rings. Flush the toilet to allow the water level to go down. Pour the undiluted vinegar around the inside of the rim. Scrub down the bowl. Mop the flour in the bathroom with a vinegar/water solution. The substance will also eat away the soap scum and hard water stains on your fixtures and tile. Make sure it is safe to use with your tile.
2. Kitchen- Clean the stovetop, appliances, countertops, and floor.
3. Laundry Room- Use vinegar as a natural fabric softener. This can be especially helpful for families who have sensitive skin. Add ½ cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle in place of store bought fabric softener. Vinegar has the added benefit of breaking down laundry detergent more effectively. (A plus when you have a family member whose skin detects every trace of detergent.)

Homemade Glass Cleaner

Cleaning solution
1 cup rubbing alcohol
1 cup water
1 tablespoon vinegar
Using isopropyl alcohol and white vinegar together makes a quickly evaporating spray glass and mirror cleaner that competes with national brands. This can also be used to give a nice shine to hard tiles, chrome, and other surfaces.


How to Keep a Clean House Without Sacrificing Your Cat's Health
We all agree that a clean house is not only desirable, but essential to the health of both humans and the cats who share our homes. Ironically though, our homes are full of household cleaning supplies which can be harmful to our cats, things like chemical cleaners, disinfectants, and insect repellants. In an effort to protect our cats from exposure to toxic substances, while keeping our homes free from dirt and germs. We have discovered that there are a number of safe products we already have on hand that can be diverted toward safe cleaning.
Vinegar
Vinegar has a multitude of uses both inside and outside the home. Here are just a few:
· Windows: Mix 1/8 cup vinegar with a pint of water for a great window and glass cleaner.
Use in a spray bottle and use newspapers to wipe and polish.
· Floors:Mix 1/2 cup of white vinegar in a gallon of warm water. Use to damp mop vinyl, ceramic tile, or laminate floors.
· Cat Urine Odor in Carpet: If necessary, use a black light(uv)to locate the stain. Use a 1:1 ratio of vinegar to water. Soak stain well, then blot with (recycled) paper towels or an old towel until all liquid is absorbed. Repeat if necessary.
· Stains on Clothing: Gently rub the stain with full-strength vinegar. Allow to site for a few minutes, then launder as usual. Helpful with fruit, jelly, mustard, coffee or tea stains.
· Clogged Kitchen and Bathroom Drains: Pour 1/2 to 1 cup baking soda into the drain, followed by one cup of hot vinegar. Let sit for several hours, then follow with very hot water. This tip is also useful as a monthly preventive maintenance, using 1/2 cup baking soda.
· Wood Cutting Boards: Spray or wipe with full-strength vinegar. (It also will remove any lingering onion odors.)
· Ant Control: Spray straight vinegar (or a 1:1 vinegar-water solution) around baseboards and other areas where ants enter the house.
· Weed Control: Spray full-strength on resistant weeds. This is particularly helpful if you have indoor-outdoor cats who venture outside occasionally to much on grass. Also use to kill grass and weeds in cracks in your driveway or sidewalk.
Baking Soda
It seems to be a toss-up between baking soda and vinegar as the most valuable common household product with a multitude of uses. You will see that they are often used together for double-whammy cleaning green.
· Soap Scum in Bathroom: Sprinkle baking soda in sink, tub, or shower, then scrub with a sponge or a nylon scrubber. (Quick Tip)
"Double your whammy" by pouring a cup of vinegar down the drain before rinsing the soda, a great way to keep your drains clean, fresh-smelling, and running free.
· Shower Curtains: Clean and deodorize by scrubbing with a paste of baking soda and water. (From the Arm & Hammer folks.)
· Microwave Cleaning: Sprinkle baking soda on spills and gently rub with your nylon scrubber. Pour a little baking soda on a sponge to clean food splatters on the sides and ceiling. Wipe clean with damp sponge.
· General Surface Cleaning: Sprinkle baking soda on a sponge and wipe surfaces down; rinse and dry. Works on counter tops, stove tops, inside refrigerator, sinks, and laundry appliances. (You can soak the used sponge in a little more backing soda and warm water to keep it smelling fresh.)
· Cockroaches: Mix baking soda and powdered sugar in a 1:1 ratio. Spread in areas where cockroaches are likely to hide (under sink and in cabinets, drawers, and along baseboards.
Bleach (Non-Chlorine)
Household bleach, diluted with warm water in a 1:20 ration is a splendid disinfectant. It is used in shelters and vet clinics, and can be used at home to clean almost every washable surface, including countertops, floors, as well as litter boxes and plastic automatic water servers and food dishes. Rinse the latter two well with water, and let other surfaces dry before cats walk on them.
Lemons
Lemons add a fresh, clean scent wherever they are used. Here are just a few ideas for using lemons in a less traditional way than lemonade:
· Make a furniture polish of lemon juice and olive oil in a 1:2 ratio. Use a soft cloth to apply, and then polish to a sheen with a clean soft cloth.
· Recycle squeezed lemons by grinding them up in the garbage disposal.
· Lemon peels are a good deterrent to keep cats out of your potted plants, as they generally do not like the smell. Or, use them to keep stray cats out of your garden

Other Helpful Tips
When I put out the call for helpful tips for cat-safe cleaning aids, the Cats Forum members rose to the call with enthusiasm, since we are all concerned for our treasured cats' safety. Susannah aka suayres1 voiced the philosophy of many of us when she posted:
I'm a fanatic on the subject of insecticides and pesticides and even weed-killers. I personally would rather live with the bugs (and use organic controls) and the weeds than salt my land with toxic substances which are known to be carcinogens and pathogens and mutagens and teratogens. I've had cancer twice, and don't want it again, thank you very much. So I've learned to love dandelions and to keep insects out of my house either by using natural controls (tansy planted outside my door, pennyroyal oil painted on doorsills and windowsills, and flypaper hanging near the windows), or just ignore them.
I have a deal with the spiders: they can be in my house if they agree to eat other bugs and stay out of my hair. If they come down to my level, they get taken by the hand and gently led outdoors. My house is messy enough to be happy, and clean enough to be healthy, without being SO clean you daren't set food inside. I think this attitude is healthier for me AND the cats!
Bleach Revisited
· Diluted bleach is one of the best cleaners to use in bathrooms, kitchens, and litterboxes, as it kills many germs, including the FIP virus and FeLV. It is not toxic to cats if one doesn't let them walk on the surface while it is wet. Even if they do, it doesn't cause harm to their pawpads and the amount they might lick off their paws will not cause a toxic problem. One assumes the floor would have been mopped normally, without puddles being left behind, and that the bleach was correctly diluted.
Some vet sites recommend a 1:32 dilution, which is 4 oz. bleach in a gallon of water. Others say 1 part bleach to 20 parts water. Apparently a little goes a long way. Since I do take in cats from the streets from time-to-time, and start them out in the bathroom until I can access their status, I really do want to make sure I clean with something that can kill FIP and FeLV since the health status of the "newbies" is unknown. Plus it kills people germs too. It kills giardia too, which can affect both cats and people.
I also read that it gets rid of ant scent trails, so folks with ant invasions might want to clean their kitchen with diluted bleach.
- GalensGranny
· Good old bleach is pretty much what is used, even in hospitals, to disinfect stuff--of course, they have to give it a fancy name, "Dakin's Solution", but it's still basically bleach water. I dissolve a tablespoon of it in a quart of water, and keep a spray bottle loaded with it in my bathroom and another in my kitchen. Don't forget about neutralizing the odor with a vinegar-water rinse (bleach and vinegar seem to do a pretty good job of cancelling each other out).
- Susannah
Removing Chewing Gum and Gunky Spills
· Oh, yes--removing chewing gum from fabrics, hair, or rugs: rub in ordinary (creamy) peanut butter, until you get all the gum out, then use the same treatment you would to remove oil or grease, to take out the peanut butter. I learned the peanut butter treatment the time my daughter got it stuck in her hair, and it works very well--and is, of course, completely safe for humans and pets. As for removing greasy stains from fabric and carpets, you can take ordinary brown paper bags, and place them over the stain, and then weight them down with something heavy, like a brick covered with aluminum foil.

· ...If it is on carpet or fabric, I put ice in a baggy or use one of those blue ice gel things on top of it. Leave it for a while. Once the gum freezes, you can just pop it right off in one piece.

Odds and Ends
· Scrubbers:
As for scrubbers, I'll go you all one better--and this one doesn't even cost anything! You know the bags in which you buy onions? Cut off the paper tag and you have a great scrubber--it's especially nice when you make bread dough. You take that piece of onion bag and it cleans the bowl beautifully, and then the dough rinses right out of the mesh of the onion bag.

· Pest Control (Outdoors)
For pest control, I use dish liquid and water. I only spray outside, along the foundation and around windows. I usually get invaded by european earwigs in the fall of the year and this method really cuts down on the numbers.

· Eucalyptus oil will remove sticky anythings from most surfaces. It's brilliant for getting adhesives from bandaids etc off skin, chewie/bubblegum out of hair, oily stuff (including most inks) out of suede or leather, tar off car duco etc. If there is any residue, just wash with detergent or soap.

Commercial "Green" Products Safe for Cats
But First, More Odds and Ends :
· Toothbrush and Toothpaste
I use old toothbrushes to clean in the cracks instead of throwing them away. Toothpaste can be used effectively to clean silver, too. I wouldn't want Phugly to eat it though because it could be toxic.

· Another Safe Silver Polish
The next time you need to polish silver, instead of buying expensive metal polish, make a paste of baking soda and water and use that--it removes tarnish without scratching and it leaves no residue on the silver. I was taught that by an Uncle who collects coins. He told me that's the ONLY safe way to polish silver.

· A Popular All-Purpose Concoction
For several years I have been using a recipe I found on the internet:
1/2 cup Ammonia (I use suds free)
1 pint 70% Alcohol
1 tsp. hand dishwashing liquid

Put these ingredients in a 1 gallon jug and fill with water. I use in spray bottles.
This has been very satisfactory for our household. I use it for everything: kitchen counters, windows, appliances and everything else. It is a disinfectant with the alcohol in it.

Franny's Note: Ammonia is toxic if ingested, and can cause lung irritation in humans and cats if inhaled excessively, so keep cats out of the room while it is being used, and store the mixture safely.
· More on the "Concoction"
I use the 91% Alcohol from Kroger which makes it even better, IMO. I put the ammonia and alcohol in the gallon container first, then fill almost to the top with water, then I add the dishwashing soap last so it doesn't suds up so much. If you add the dishwashing soap first and then the water you will have lots of suds.

Commercial Products and "Green" Manufacturers
Many companies have been founded on the premise of respect for our environment, including the animals who populate it. One of the oldest (at close to 50 years) is the Shaklee Corporation, which still produces environmentally safe cleaning products, "biodegradable; free of phosphates, chlorine, borates, and nitrates." Other, newer "Green" companies include:
· Gaiam
Producers of Seventh Generation Products, which are sold in Whole Food stores, and many other fine natural food stores.
· Ecover
Manufactures environmentally friendly products and is actively involved in environmental groups.
· Earth Friendly Products
Their policy on antibacterial products is a must-read.
Other Cat-Friendly Products
· Murphy's Oil Soap
This product (now apparently owned by Colgate), has been around for more than half a century, and is loved by every forum member who has used it. I've personally used it for years, and swear by it. As GalensGranny mentioned, it is diluted with water, and a little goes a long way.
· Fels Naptha and Bon Ami
Of course, some of the oldest and most basic cleaning products are still good--ammonia, baking soda, even good, old-fashioned Fels Naphtha soap. I also like "Bon Ami" scouring powder. It's basically just finely ground talc with soap added, and works as well as it ever did. I sometimes think that a lot of the newer, "technically advanced" products have too many drawbacks to make them a viable alternative, at least for me.

· Steam!
When the cats were only kitties (a while ago) and they got ringworm I bought a Steam Buggy. It was a wonderful investment, and what I've saved on buying cleaning supplies has paid for it over the past few years. It uses only steam, no chemicals at all and santitizes everything. I use it in the bathroom, kitchen, oven, litterboxes, windows, EVERYTHING.

· You can also buy a product (from the pharmacy) called "Fuller's Earth." It's a type of clay, which will absorb greasy matter from fabric, and which can then be vacuumed away. You'd leave either the paper or the Fuller's earth on the grease for several hours. If necessary, you can repeat the process until the last of the stain is gone.

This topic is too large and too important to cover in just one article. I'll be expanding it to include a series of Quick Tips for Cleaning Green with Cats. Meanwhile, see the next page for a list of resources and suggested reading.

Terms

Speedy and efficient....

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