Best of CMF Magazine

Green Cleaning 101

Best of Summer 2013-01We all have to clean our homes on occasion. And we all have laundry to do and dishes to wash. It’s likely that when you tackle any of these tasks, you probably use products designed to kill germs and leave a pleasant scent. What if the chemicals in some of those products were just as harmful as the germs they are meant to eradicate? Surprisingly, that can often be the case. In fact, “Chemicals have replaced bacteria and viruses as the main threat to health,” according to Dr. Dick Irwin, a toxicologist at Texas A & M University.

More and more people are looking at less toxic options when it comes to cleaning their homes. The Guide to Less Toxic Products, produced by the Environmental Heath Association of Nova Scotia, offers a comprehensive web-based information source on the cleaning and personal care products available in most Canadian stores. Consumers can find out what the common toxic concerns are with a given type of cleaner, along with some less toxic alternatives. Go to to check it out.

Another option is to get those chemicals completely out of your home by making your own cleaners. These cleaners are effective, affordable and easy to make. The first thing you want to do is assemble a green cleaning toolbox with  baking soda, borax, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, washing soda, liquid castile soap, olive oil and perhaps some essential oils. Then you will be ready to start experimenting with recipes. Below are some of my favourites:

Glass & Mirror Cleaner

Mix ½ cup of vinegar with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Add a drop (literally only one drop) of liquid dish soap. Use a window cloth instead of paper towel.

Silver Cleaner

Lay a piece of aluminum foil shiny-side down in your metal kitchen sink (sorry, this doesn’t work with ceramic sinks). Sprinkle ¼ cup of washing soda and fill the sink with about 10 cm of really hot water. Dip silver pieces into the water and watch as tarnish disappears within seconds! This is especially nice with fussy silver pieces that are really hard to clean.

Tub & Toilet Scouring Powder

Use baking soda – add a bit of vinegar if you want some extra cleaning power.

Drain Cleaner

Remove any hair and debris that you can. Pour baking soda down the drain and then vinegar. Once the bubbling has stopped, pour boiling water down the drain. Repeat as needed.

For more recipes for cleaners, go to Give homemade cleaners a try – you will be amazed at how much money you save, and  you can take comfort knowing that your housecleaning isn’t doing more harm than good!

Laura Keller has enjoyed writing as long as she can remember. Eventually she became the wife of a Combat Engineer and mom of 3. With her husband’s retirement from the CF, they are all learning to adjust to life after the military. 

Laura also writes her blog at  


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