Green alternatives abound that are friendly to people, pets and the planet, yet still manage to give laundry, dirty dishes and musty bathrooms a good cleaning. Below are some ideas.
Rice water—a natural floor wax: after rinsing rice for a meal, rather then sending the water down the drain, set it aside for floor cleaning.
The milky white fluid left behind is full of natural oils found in the fine grains of rice bran, making it terrific for real wood flooring.
Thoroughly submerge a clean cloth in the milky fluid and wring it out very well. Wipe in the direction of the wood grain for maximum effect and efficiency.
The rice bran acts as a natural and gentle abrasive that collects dust and dirt missed by sweeping, while the oil soaks into the floor to nourish and protect the wood.
Tip: Use a separate bucket to rinse the rag between wipes. This will keep the rice water clean. Use the rinse water to flush the toilet and give houseplants a nourishing treat with a diluted form of the nutrient-rich rice water.
Tea leaves—the secret weapon against dust bunnies. Green tea is a favourite beverage in Japan and can be enjoyed hot or cold multiple times a day throughout the year.
Many will confirm that freshly brewed tea is the best. However, multiple cups a day can mean a large pile of tea leaves. So, rather than simply throwing them away, why not put them to further good use?
Set aside used tea leaves in a covered strainer throughout the day. Excess fluid will drain away but the leaves will stay slightly damp. Scatter them over the floor before sweeping the next morning. The damp leaves will gather excess dust, hair and crumbs without the use of a vacuum cleaner.
Tip: throw the used leaves in the garden or spread under trees and shrubs. As they break down into the soil, they will turn into valuable nutrients that plants love.
Vinegar—more than a condiment. The mildly acidic quality that makes vinegar perfect for its many culinary roles means it is an ideal natural cleaner that cuts through grease and grime, battles mould and mildew, and kills bacteria while leaving a sparkling surface.
Chemical cleaners, marketed as faster and more effective, have replaced vinegar as an integral member of the household cleaning staff. However, increased awareness of environmental pollution and chemical allergies mean vinegar is finding its way back into the limelight.
Versatile and safe for humans and animals, this natural cleaner performs excellent work without any nasty side effects. Add one cup to your laundry to brighten colours and eliminate mould and mildew. The same amount added to a pan of dishes washes away grease with ease.
Tip: dip a toothbrush in vinegar, followed by baking soda, to launch a fizzy attack on mould and mildew between bathroom tiles.
Green Cleaning Kit
Ready, set, clean! This seven-item kit gets chemical-free home cleaning off to a beautiful start. Add the bright scrubbies made by participants in the Eco+waza Hana Project—a rebuilding effort with Tohoku residents—and so-called modern cleaning will never again seem satisfying.
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