Moms Columns & Blogs

Lighten Your Load When You Clean

Most of us have that under the sink cabinet or pantry closet overflowing with cleaners of all varieties. We think we need all of these cleaners to cut through grease and grime and provide a cleaner, less germy environment for our families. I certainly fall into this category...or at least I used to. That's before I discovered vinegar and baking soda. Now my cleaning cabinet has a two gallon jug of vinegar, a couple of recycled spray bottles from my used commercial cleaners and several boxes of baking soda.

There are many benefits to cleaning with fewer chemical cleaners. Of course there is the obvious health benefit. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the air inside our homes is on average two to five times more polluted than the air outside, largely due to household cleaners. And it's not just the air that we are polluting with these chemical cleaners. The Clean Water Fund estimates that the average American uses 40 pounds of toxic cleaners every year and much of that finds it way into the water supply where we spend billions of dollars trying to remove the toxins from our drinking water.

Vinegar and baking soda are so multi-purpose that when you switch to these natural alternatives you’ll also buy fewer products.  That means you’ll create less waste and you’ll save money.  One two gallon jug of vinegar and a couple of boxes of baking soda will clean most of your home for less than $4!

Finally, you're all wondering "But does it really work?" The answer is YES! I now use vinegar to clean most everything except marble. Dilute it with water for cleaning glass and countertops. Use it full strength to clean greasy messes.  Vinegar is a natural disinfectant so you don't have to worry that you're not really cleaning.  My favorite use for vinegar is actually in the washing machine.  Add half a cup of vinegar instead of fabric softener for naturally soft clothes.  The vinegar will also break down any residual detergent so it’s a great solution for anyone that suffers from detergent allergies.

Baking soda is known for fighting odors so use it to freshen up your carpets, your shoes or even your pets. Just sprinkle it on, let it sit for a few minutes and then vacuum or brush it off.  Baking soda is gentle enough for stainless steel appliances and it’s a natural laundry booster.  Just add half a cup of baking soda to your laundry and use up to half the laundry detergent.

It’s easy to Do Your Part and clean with natural ingredients.  You’ll keep harmful chemicals out of your home, you’ll create less waste and you’ll save money.

Terri  Bennett is an earth scientist and mom;