Sunday, January 24, 2010

How to clean, green, easy and effectively!

On Tuesday, Jan. 26th, I will be talking about how to clean green and easy on my radio show on BTO.
This post is to put in writing what I'll be talking about, if you need names of products, or details etc.

Some of this information comes from my own knowledge, some of it comes from my friend Cindy Perloff who I interviewed for this article. Cindy has done cleaning professionally and is extremely good at it, I have seen her work!

How To Clean Green and Easy


To clean bathroom floors, first vacuum, then use warm water to clean the floor either by hand using a rag, or with a mop, or Swiffer type device using a rag in it. Or you can use a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water to use if you feel water only won't do the job. If your floor is made of pergo, or wood, a general rule is to not let a lot of water sit on it for a long time. Just clean and wipe dry as you go.

mirrors- to clean the mirror in the bathroom use half vinegar and half water like you would Windex. Don't use paper towels, paper towels leave lint. When I worked as a nanny, the maids in the home I worked in used crumpled up newspaper for this job. If you don't have a newspaper, use an old rag that doesn't produce lint, or a microfiber rag, or a shammy type cloth.

bathtub or shower- the trick here is to clean it and maintain it. If it's quite dirty, use a mild cleanser or baking soda which is a natural cleanser and not very abrasive, or mix baking soda with a mild dish soap. A good cleanser is barkeepers friend or Bon Ami. Another cleaner that works well on tubs is Washing Soda.I mentioned in my post about how to make laundry detergent. The nearest place to buy this locally, is Fred Meyer in Lacey. It is quite useful in many areas of cleaning and natural.

A great tip Cindy gave me is after she takes a bath she uses the nylon mitts used for exfoliating or scrubbing your body, to lather up with soap (just whatever soap you've used to wash yourself) and clean the walls and tub with them. If you were to do that every time you took a bath, or even every other time, it wouldn't be much work to up keep. In the shower, Cindy uses a squeegee on the shower walls every time after showering to keep it clean, buildup and spot free. When you shower the steam helps loosen buildup, so why not clean while you're in there?

If you have a plastic shower curtain even the cheap ones can go in the washing machine. Wash it as needed. I use my nose to determine when it's time, when it smells of mildew. Don't put it in the dryer, just hang it to dry.

Toilet- to clean the toilet use the cleanser Barkeepers Friend, or another cleanser you may have, or even baking soda and vinegar. If you clean it regularly and keep the water in the toilet moving, (meaning if it's not used every day. just swish the water around every other day or so) it will prevent stains from building up. Once you have stains, it becomes a little more difficult. The two types of rings a toilet may have are either 1. stains, or 2. mineral buildup. Stains are a little easier to deal with, but the method for removing both are the same. If you have tried using cleaners and they haven't worked, use a pumice stone, (the kind to remove callouses from feet) or otherwise called a pool stone. Make sure the toilet and the stone are wet, and rub the ring. You can only use this method if you have a white porcelain toilet. Don't use this method if you have a colored toilet or a fiberglass or plastic kind of toilet.

A great tip comes from Shirley Jones (who is a friend of Cindy's) she owns a cleaning business called T and S cleaning, Shirley advises using something called an "Emery Cloth." Edited to add
my husband does not recognize this as Emery cloth, he says this is more of a drywall sanding screen. The guy at the hardware store told me it was called Emery cloth, so if it's a metal screen and flexible, and used to sand drywall, that's what you want.
This is a mesh looking weaved piece of metal material used by contractors for drywall. I purchased one a the local hardware store for a few bucks. The benefit of this over a pumice stone is that it is flexible, so you can get it in the grooves of a toilet bowl. The piece I bought was the size of a standard piece of paper. I cut off a small square to use to clean my toilet. Just make sure that it and the surface of the toilet is wet when using. Just rub it on the ring, and it will come off. I used mine on my toilet with excellent results. It didn't take much rubbing to remove a mineral ring, I am very pleased with it! With this method also, only use it if you have a porcelain toilet.

A very good discussion I found on the Internet about removing toilet rings is here at Thrifty Fun, if you are interested.

Showerhead-Unclog showerheads by filling a plastic baggie with vinegar, place the baggie over the showerhead and secure with rubber bands, leave overnight. In the morning use an old toothbrush to scrub it if needed.


Kitchen floors-know what your floors are made of. If they are Pergo, make sure you don't keep water on them, water gets in the seams and makes them buckle. Just wash and dry as you go. This is a good method for wood floors also which are usually laminated. Use plain water, or vinegar and water. Using a shammy or rag to dry. If you have greasy floors use anything that has a degreaser, such as dish soap along with the water.

Sink- Use a cleanser, whatever you have. Bon Ami, or Barkeepers Friend. Barkeepers Friend is good on Stainless Steel sinks.

Windows- a solution of equal parts vinegar and water, to dry use newspaper or a rag, or a shammy that doesn't leave lint.

Dishwasher- if you use a dishwasher here are some tips I have learned that I feel are useful.

-Only use the "normal" cycle. This is the cycle that has been tested the most by the manufacturer, and is the cycle that probably works the best.

-Don't use as much soap as recommended. Usually you can use about half that much with equally as good results. This will depend on what type of water you have. We have a water softener so we can use much less detergent. Too much detergent can also cause etching in glasses.

Don't put silver and stainless flatware in the dishwasher at the same time. You can however clean them separately in the dishwasher, just not together. The 2 metals react with each other and cause irreparable damage.

-Use a detergent that is labeled as "green". Or better for the environment. I buy the Trader Joe's brand I get from there. But I may start making my own, using Borax and baking soda, more on that here, at the Green Phone Booth. Traditional dish washing detergents contain phosphates which are hard on the environment.

Pots and pans- if you have a pan with caked on food, use baking soda mixed with a little water to make a paste and scrub. Use a little more water and boil it if needed and let sit for an hour. This method can also be used with salt, which is another natural abrasive as well as an antidote to grease.

Kitchen Sponges-If you use a sponge to clean dishes you probably already know how germy they can get. To keep the bacteria at bay you can microwave the sponge for 2 minutes (make sure the sponge is wet, because essentially you are boiling the sponge) or if you don't use a microwave you can throw it in the dishwasher when you do dishes, or you can simply boil the sponge in water.

Cutting Boards-My plastic cutting boards I throw in the dishwasher, however you cannot place wood cutting boards in the dishwasher because they may split. So for my wooden boards I use baking soda on them to rid them of smells from cutting garlic and other smelly things. Just make a paste with a little water and rub it on. Works almost immediately.

Misc. Tips

Cindy told me one of the smartest cleaning tips she knew had to do with mold. She said bleach does get rid of mold, but there is an essential oil based cleaner made by Young Living called Thieves that if you use it on mold the mold will NEVER come back.

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