You love your family and your pets, but it gets hard cleaning up after them. Kids, dogs, and dirt go together, like, well, the peanut butter and jelly that gets smeared on your countertops. It’s easy to reach for the spray cleaner and the paper towels a dozen times a day — but that can get expensive. And how safe are those cleaners? It’s important to know that taking care of your family doesn’t have to mean using harsh chemicals and overuse of paper towels. We can care for the environment, and ourselves, by using natural, eco-friendly cleaning supplies.
Here are some ideas to help you get started.

Go Old School

Put aside your costly cleaners and go back to the basics, using items your grandmother — or maybe even your great-grandmother — would recognize. For the most basic household cleaning tasks, consider making your own. You can create a good all-purpose cleaner with half a cup of white vinegar, two tablespoons of baking soda, and a few drops of essential oils such as lemon or lavender. Substitute your store-bought soft-scrubbing cleanser with a paste made of baking soda and an environmentally safe laundry soap (a 50-ounce bottle can be purchased for $9.52). Swap out your paper towels and disposable cleaning wipes in favor of the old standby: rags. Fifteen million tons of textile waste ends up in US landfills and incinerators in a given year. Don’t throw away those worn out T-shirts and pajamas, cut them into a usable size for your cleaning needs. Does your washer eat socks? Slip a spare on your hand for easy dusting. You can restore shine to your wood furnishings and buff out cup rings with a homemade solution of olive oil, white vinegar, and lemon juice.

Bring in the Pros

If you really want to get down to the nitty-gritty, then you might want to call in the pros. Simply put, a reputable team of trained professional cleaners can give your home an extraordinary level of attention. The deep cleaning they can provide will help eliminate an impressive amount of pollutants, allergens, and irritants, making your home healthier for your entire family. Of course, it’s always important to fit this type of service into your household budget, so keep in mind that a typical house cleaning in Louisville averages out to around $165 per cleaning. Of course, when you’re searching for cleaning service, make sure you find one that fits with your environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Be a Smart Shopper

If you don’t feel comfortable going quite that old school, there are a number of companies making environmentally friendly, chemical-free cleaning products for the home. But exercise due diligence and do the research. There are some “eco-friendly” products that … aren’t. You can check with third-party consumer organizations like the Environmental Working Group to find out if your favorite product makes the grade.

Bring Nature Indoors

Houseplants can be a beneficial addition to your home in many ways. Just being around healthy plants makes us healthier, too. Houseplants elevate your mood and enhance the beauty of your home. But they also filter the air and regulate humidity. NASA research indicates houseplants can remove as much as 87 percent of air toxins in a single day. Talk to your retailer before you purchase, as some houseplants can be toxic to pets or children.

Commit to Safety Inside and Out

Don’t neglect your home’s exterior when you’re thinking green. You can recycle your kitchen scraps into compost to make a healthy fertilizer for your plants. Natural bark mulches help to control the amount of watering they need. (Again, choose wisely when selecting plants if they will be around children or animals.) A tablespoon of soap in a cup of vegetable oil, mixed with a quart of water, makes a non-toxic pesticide you can spray directly on your plants. Chemical runoff from synthetic fertilizers and cleaners used outside can pollute our waterways and sewers. You can clean the concrete, roof, and siding easily and effectively with a pressure washer filled with mild soap. For oil stains on the driveway, apply absorbent cat litter or sawdust, then simply sweep up and deposit in the trash. You can clean your windows, inside and out, with a simple solution of vinegar and water. Use lint-free cloths or scrunched-up old newspaper to wipe away the solution. For cleaning your window screens, use a mild soap and water and a soft brush. Always remember to rinse everything well.

Making the switch to environmentally friendly, non-toxic cleaning products and methods can improve your quality of life, and help stretch your budget as well. It’s truly not that difficult to clean your home safely, so why risk using products that could make the people you love sick? With the investment of a little time and very little money, you can make your home healthier and happier for the whole family.

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