5 tips to clean your home - and save the planet


(BPT) - Log onto almost any news website and in just a few clicks you’ll probably come across some story about the environment. Whether it involves international agreements, alternative energy sources or fuel-efficient cars, the discussion is often abstract and far removed from our everyday lives.

Consumers want to know what they can do and how they can contribute to making a cleaner, greener planet.

Minor changes can make a significant difference, particularly with cleaning your home. You can trade in harsh chemicals and wasteful cleaning products for sustainable methods that are just as clean, if not cleaner. Here are five ways you can clean your home the eco-friendly way.

1. Your own all-purpose cleaner. One of the easiest solutions is to make your own all-purpose cleaner. This effective solution only requires three ingredients: Two cups of distilled water, half a cup of white vinegar and 10 to 20 drops of your favorite essential oil. Mix all the ingredients into a spray bottle and voila! The vinegar is a natural antifungal that effectively kills germs and bacteria, and an essential oil like lavender will leave your house smelling great.

2. A cleaner way to mop. Unfortunately, many of the most effective ways to sweep and mop are also incredibly wasteful, requiring you to use a new disposable pad with each cleaning. The new O-Cedar ProMist MAX Microfiber Spray Mop features a reusable microfiber mop head that can be machine washed up to 100 times. Plus, the reusable bottle allows you to clean with any solution you choose — whether you DIY or buy your favorite brand. Its double-sided mop head flips and covers a surface area that is over twice the size of the previous version.

3. A sparkling toilet. Many of the harshest products under your counter are probably there to get your toilet sparkling clean. But you don’t need chlorine or bleach to disinfect your toilet and leave it looking like new. Instead, once or twice a week, pour a few tablespoons of baking soda into the bowl and scrub it with a toilet brush. In addition, make a toilet cleaner out of one ounce of eucalyptus oil — a natural disinfectant — and a quart of water.

4. Want clean air? Think green, literally. Especially in the winter, smells around your house can become stagnant and it can be a real challenge to chase them away. One of the most effective and visually pleasing ways to freshen up your air quality is with selective house plants, such as:

* Rubber plants thrive in rooms that don’t get much sunlight.

* Boston ferns are some of the best indoor plants for removing pollutants such as formaldehyde.

* Peace lilies are one of the few flowering indoor plants. As such, they bring a little spring to your room and naturally remove VOCs and more from the air.

5. Castile soap. In certain sectors, castile soap enjoys a virtual cult following. This olive oil-based soap is incredibly versatile and can be used as a furniture polish, window cleaner, dish soap and more. Best of all, most varieties you find in stores are all natural and free of toxins.

Though many of the environmental issues we read about may seem like insurmountable obstacles, it is possible to make a difference just by changing how you clean your house.