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After you add up the amount of time you spend inside working, sleeping and relaxing, it’s not surprising to learn that people spend an average of 90 percent of their time indoors. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found levels of several common pollutants to be two to five times higher inside homes than outside. Yikes!

Many of these pollutants come from chemicals that are found in our very own household cleaning products.

We can reduce the chemicals in our homes by replacing cleaning products with homemade green cleaners, store-bought green cleaners or just by using a bit more elbow grease. With spring cleaning on our minds, now is the time to start making the switch.

Here are a few green cleaning facts to get you started on your journey to a healthier home.

Alkalis such as baking soda and borax scour off dirt and grease. If you need a stronger alkali, find a recipe with washing soda to get the job done.

Both vinegar and lemon juice can be used to remove hard water stains. While lemon juice smells great, be sure not to use it on silver.

If you want to disinfect a surface, you must consider its “dwell time.” This is the amount of time the solution must be in contact with the surface; it can be found on the product’s instructions.

One of the best ways to select a store-bought green cleaning product is to look for a third-party certification, such as Green Seal or EPA’s Safer Choice.

Please note that eco-friendly disinfectants can be used at home, but always read the instructions carefully to make sure you’re using them properly. It’s important to know that these disinfectants should not be used in childcare facilities or commercial food preparation sites.

Do It Yourself

Try making your own green cleaning products. Here are a few ‘recipes’ to get you started.

Most ingredients can be found in area stores. Borax and washing soda are usually stocked in the laundry aisles. Vegetable oil-based liquid soap (commonly called castile soap) is available at many natural food stores.

The Green Cleaning Booklet, by Sharon Gibson & Pamela Turner, has more recipes and suggestions. Find the pdf at; type in “Green Cleaning Booklet” in the search bar.

All-Purpose Cleaner

  • 3 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • ½ tsp. washing soda (sodium carbonate)
  • ½ tsp. vegetable oil-based liquid soap
  • 2 cups hot water

Mix ingredients in a spray bottle or bucket. Apply to surface and wipe clean.

Wood Cleaner

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • ¼ cup lemon juice

Mix ingredients. Use a soft cloth to rub into the wood, going in the direction of the grain.

Oven Cleaner

  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil-based liquid soap
  • 2 Tbsp. borax (sodium borate)

Mix the soap and borax in a spray bottle. Fill the bottle with hot water and shake well. Spray on oven surfaces and leave for 20 minutes. Scrub off.