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Healthy Habits: How-Tos

5 Ways to Green Your Cleaning Routine

Avoid harmful toxins while making your home shine.

It’s Earth Day on April 22, a time for celebrating the planet and being a bit more green. One way is to spiff up your cleaning routine. Harsh chemicals have fumes and other components that can be harmful to your health, not to mention the environment. Luckily, it’s easy to clean green with these tips. You’ll breathe easier -- and so will the rest of us.

1. Use baking soda.
Good old baking soda is a powerhouse in green cleaning. Mix it with a little dishwashing soap and use it to scour pots and pans, sprinkle it onto carpets to absorb pet smells before vacuuming and, of course, leave an opened box in the fridge to remove odors. Note: Baking soda can tarnish aluminum. If you do use store-bought cleaners, make sure they bear the EPA-approved Design for the Environment (DfE) label. (Learn more here.)

2. Just add lemon.
“Lemon or lime juice with baking soda works great to scour your sinks and tub,” says Cori Morenberg, owner of Ms. Green-Clean in New York City. After squeezing the fruit for its juice, she uses the citrus halves as a sponge. “Sprinkle baking soda and scrub away any tough stains and lingering odors with the fruit,” she says.

3. Use vinegar beyond salads.
Another superhero in the green scene is vinegar, which is packed with antimicrobial properties. Vinegar zaps mold and bacteria, and it removes pet urine. It's even good for killing weeds. Save your stuff and dilute white vinegar with water in a 1-1 ratio before using. Vodka is also an effective disinfectant. Spritz it straight onto bathroom tiles and grout to combat mold and mildew in the bathroom. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then scrub.

4. Choose bamboo.
Rolls of paper towels clog the landfills. Instead, invest in reusable cleaning cloths made of eco-friendly bamboo. Naturally bacteria-resistant, the ultra-soft material can be used on even the most sensitive surfaces. For a more pleasant scent, add essential oil (we love calming lavender or invigorating geranium) to hot water. Wring out completely and wipe down surfaces. Don’t forget the plants!

5. Reuse your refuse.
An essential part of being green is creating less waste; composting can cut yours in half. Place garden clippings and kitchen scraps in a bin 2 feet away from the house. Turn over the pile once a week to aid in decomposition. When the components are no longer identifiable, use them as fertilizer. No backyard? Place scraps in an aerated bucket (like this one) or a coffee can under the sink. Most farmers markets also have areas for collecting compost.

About the Author
Jenna Mahoney
is a Webby-nominated beauty writer with more than a decade of experience. Her work has appeared on websites like AOL’s That’s Fit and such magazines as SELF, Redbook, SHAPE, Allure and All You. She has served as an editor of Fitness magazine and Bridal Guide.

Also read: Give Your Bathroom a Healthy Makeover and Great Get-healthier Kitchen Gadgets

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