Has all this time inside during the quarantine led you to do some spring cleaning? Leave winter’s stuffy air and the nasty cleaning chemicals behind, and follow these tips to make this year’s spring cleaning friendly toward the environment:
Think mechanical first. A scrub brush, a dish scrubber, and a retired toothbrush can provide a lot of cleaning power with no chemicals at all. Use drain baskets to keep drains free of debris that can lead to clogs.
Use up chemicals that you have on hand before purchasing more. If you have cleaners stored in multiple locations (some in the laundry room, others under the kitchen sink, and a few in the garage), find them and inventory what you have available.
Consider creating your own cleaners from common household products, such as vinegar, baking soda, salt, lemon juice, and mineral oil. Many of these cleaners are easy to make, effective, and less expensive than pre-mixed chemical solutions. Recipes for homemade cleaning supplies abound on the internet; search online to find the ones that work best for you. (Remember that even homemade cleaners can be irritating to skin and eyes. Always use caution in mixing, storing, and using homemade cleaners.) Here are how-tos for 8 homemade cleaners from Good Housekeeping.
Choose the mildest and most benign chemical product available if you choose to purchase a cleaning product. Don’t use a sledgehammer when a fly swatter will do. Try to select products that provide complete information on ingredients, offer the clearest instructions, and don’t require special safety measures for use or disposal. Search the EPA’s Safer Choice website to help you identify these products.
Look for recycled-content and recyclable containers when purchasing products or containers. Rather than using paper towels, choose reusable towels and old rags. If you purchase paper towels, opt for those made from recycled-content paper.
Buy concentrates to reduce packaging waste. Some cleaning products are now sold in concentrated form; you finish making the solution by adding tap water at home. Other products, such as laundry detergent, are concentrated and ready to use when you get home. Remember—if you have softened water, you can use even less detergent.
Keep cleaning products in their original, labeled containers, and dispose of them properly. Never pour potentially harmful chemicals into food or beverage containers for storage. Store all cleaning products out of reach of children and away from pets. Do not store potentially hazardous materials close to sources of heat or in direct sunlight. Properly dispose of unneeded household hazardous waste, like some cleaning chemicals. Contact your local solid waste management authority for your local programs.
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