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Clean Your Home For Less

I know cleaning products won’t break the bank but I’ve been using everyday products like baking soda and vinegar for years. It not only saves money but I no longer get headaches from all the chemicals used in commercial products. I’m always looking for green cleaning tips that save money so I asked Leslie Reichert, a certified green cleaner and author of The Joy of Green Cleaning to offer some advice.

Budget Smart Girl (BSG)-What ingredients/products would you recommend everyone have on hand?
Leslie Reichert (LR)-There are four main basics that are:
White vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice and salt. Along with those you can also use castile soap, borax and find an essential oil that you like – just for the scent. I like peppermint this time of year and I change with the seasons.

BSG-I’m guilty of this one, using too many paper towels while I’m cleaning. Any greener…and cheaper alternatives?
LR-I have a favorite new product from Europe called Skoy Cloths. One cloth can take the place of 5 – 15 rolls of paper towels! They work well when damp, and a soooo absorbent. It takes a while to get used to not going to the paper towel holder, but once you break the habit – you’ll be surprised how much you save! http://www.backdoorvac.com/skoy-cloths.html

BSG-Any brands that are eco friendly and low cost?
LR-Since I’ve switched to the Skoy cloth and microfiber cloths (great for cleaning glass and stainless steel) I only buy paper towels by the single roll and they last forever. I look for recycled paper and no bleach in my paper towels. Seventh Generation makes some.

BSG-One product I hate using is oven cleaner, anything less toxic?
LR-Here is a trick from my book. Sprinkle the bottom of the oven with baking soda. Spray it with water and keep it so the baking soda stays very damp. Let it sit over night. When you are ready to clean, spray white vinegar on the top of the baking soda and let it foam up. Then just wipe everything away. You can also make a paste of baking soda and water to wipe on the sides of the oven. You follow the same instructions as above and you end up with a sparkling clean oven!

BSG-I’ve been using a homemade recipe for the dishwasher, but I noticed it’s leaving white marks on the glassware, anything to counteract it?
LR-Try using lemon juice in the rinse. The white marks are probably a mineral build up from the water and the lemon juice will work to break it down since it’s a natural acid.

BSG-What are some of the best budget friendly cleaning recipes?
LR-I make this recipe when I’m speaking to groups since it’s inexpensive and it really works. I call it a Green Clean Scrub –
All it takes is 1/2 cup table salt, 1/2 cup borax, and 1/2 cup baking soda. I add 10 drops of lemongrass essential oils (just for a scent) and you can use this mixture to scrub you sinks, toilets and even your porcelain tubs. It will take the place of your sink scrub, your toilet bowl cleaner and the tub scrub.

BSG-Some readers might like to buy things like baking soda and vinegar in bulk or larger sizes, do you know of any companies that offer these super sizes?
LR-I’ve seen large boxes of baking soda in the laundry section of grocery stores. I think it’s is around 5 pounds. The biggest container I’ve seen for vinegar is a gallon, but maybe if you go to a restaurant supply company you would find larger sizes. I like my vinegar in the gallon so I can leave it underneath my sink and it’s easy to manage.

BSG-What about green washing powder? Would you recommend people make their own?
LR-I’m not sure if you mean laundry soap or dishwashing powder. The green scrub I made above is the basis for my dishwashing soap for my automatic dishwasher. All I do is put that mixture in and add lemon juice on the top of it- it starts to foam and I close and start the washer. It works great! As for a laundry soap, I have a recipe in my book called “great-grandma’s Laundry soap”. You can see this recipe on my book site. (and the picture is my great grandma holding my grandma!)http://www.thejoyofgreencleaning.com/preview-the-book.html

BSG-How about stainless steel or chrome, lots of the products that work the best are really toxic. Any greener products to get a shine on fixtures?
LR-Oh my favorite is an E-cloth. This is a high grade microfiber cloth that only uses water. It will leave your stainless sparkling with NO CHEMICALS! It is truly amazing. I give this cloth to my son (11) and he can clean everything in my kitchen and never makes a mess. You have got to try it!
http://www.backdoorvac.com/ecloth-kitchen-pack.html

BSG-Any other hints or tips you can offer?
LR-My recommendation to going green with your cleaning is to take it slow and try things. Since you are using simple products there isn’t much you can get wrong*. I boost my dish detergent with sea salt when I’m doing a really dirty bunch of dishes. And I like to keep a spray bottle of half vinegar and half water in the bathroom for quick clean ups. And I recommend using an essential oil that you really enjoy. Find a scent that you LOVE and all of a sudden cleaning with be like aroma therapy – and maybe even become FUN!*Just make sure you don’t use borax on aluminum

Budget Smart Girl Tip-I’ve been using essential oils with my green cleaning products and some can be pricey. One company I’ve found for budget prices (and fast delivery too) is www.vitacost.com

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