Lifestyle » Vol. 40

Go green when you clean

By Robert “Daddy” Nickell

Looking for natural cleaning agents that won’t impact the environment? Most of them can be found in your cabinets. So clean naturally!

Baking Soda

Green Cleaning

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a natural and inexpensive way to regulate the pH levels of either an acidic or alkaline substance. In layman’s terms, it works great for both cleaning household surfaces and keeping odors at bay. In fact, you probably have a box in your freezer right now. But did you know that its uses don’t stop there? Here are just a few tips for keeping your home sparkling using this age-old, economical and eco-friendly product:

Make your own scrub: Sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge and scrub bathtubs, sinks and tiles the same as you would with a commercial scrub. It’s great on greasy, stubborn pots and pans, too!

Polish silverware: Mix three parts baking soda with one part water and rub the surface gently with a clean, dry cloth. Rinse thoroughly and let dry for a brilliant shine.

Clean shower curtains: Sprinkle directly on a damp sponge and scrub gently until the shower curtain comes clean. It neutralizes any odors here, too.

Give your liquid laundry detergent a boost: Just add ½ cup or so to your (eco-friendly) laundry detergent to make it work even harder. Baking soda will help to get your clothes cleaner, brighter and fresher by balancing the pH levels.

Get rid of grease and oil stains: Sprinkle baking soda on oil and grease spills on your garage floor and scrub with a wet brush.

Green Cleaning

White Vinegar

Vinegar is a form of acetic acid that stems from the fermentation process of sugars and starches. It is derived naturally and does not harm humans, pets or the environment. It literally has hundreds of uses, but here are just a few tips for using it for household cleaning purposes:

All purpose cleaner: Fill a spray bottle with equal parts vinegar and water and use as you would any commercial glass cleaner.

Remove stickers and other gummy substances: Moisten the surface with vinegar and let stand for 10 minutes.

Carpet spills: Pour the half-and-half mixture directly on the carpet stain, let sit for five minutes, then blot with a damp sponge and repeat as needed.
Remove stubborn, corroded stains on shower heads and other fixtures: To do this, simply remove the fixtures and let them soak in vinegar overnight. Rinse them off in the morning, and they will sparkle!

Remove strong odor from hands: After chopping onions or garlic, wipe your hands with vinegar. It works on stains from fruit juice, too.

Clean wood cutting boards: To clean your cutting boards, simply wipe them down with vinegar.

Green CleaningOlive Oil

We all know that olive oil is delicious and heart-healthy, but this Mediterranean staple is also known for its moisturizing and healing properties and can be used around the house, too. Here are some great applications:

Furniture polish: Replace waxy commercial polish with olive oil; just add a teaspoon to a ¼ cup of lemon juice, and you can clean and shine your wood surfaces naturally.

Shoe polish: Just dab a small amount of olive oil on to your favorite pair of leather shoes and buff to a brilliant, all-natural shine.

Hinge lubricant: Replace that commercial can of oil with olive oil, and spray it directly on the hinge to eliminate that annoying squeak.

Hairball treatment: Even household pets can benefit from the many uses of olive oil. Just add a teaspoon of olive oil a day to their food to eliminate messy, noisy hairballs.

Soothe skin rashes: The soothing properties of olive oil can lessen the symptoms of skin rashes and may help to eliminate them. Gently rub a small amount to the affected area for quick relief. It helps with a baby’s bum, too!

Robert Nickell, a.k.a. Daddy Nickell, is a father of seven and the founder of Daddy & Co. and the Daily Daddy blog, where he provides parenting advice from a dad’s perspective. He also contributes to national talk shows and daytime television shows and as a syndicated columnist for national newspapers, parenting magazines and websites. Nickell and his family practice what they preach, as they are in the process of building an eco-friendly home that is on track to receive a Platinum LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. To read more by Nickell, visit

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