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Eco-friendly Cleaning Tips

Eco-friendly solutions are cheaper, simpler and healthier than your average chemical sprays. As you prepare for this annual refreshing ritual, here are few tricks to try (or give to your housekeeper):

Baking soda is your new best friend — and one of the centerpieces of any green cleaning regimen. If you prefer a scent, add a few drops of an essential oil like lavender or rosemary (known for their antibacterial properties) to a cup of baking soda. Sprinkle in sinks, showers, tubs and countertops and rub in a circular motion with a damp cloth. Wipe clean. For a soft scrub, add a few drops of water or liquid castile soap to form a paste.

White distilled vinegar acts as a natural germicide. So use it to clean toilets by spraying seats and bowls at full strength and allowing it to air-dry. Or, try pouring it down drains to zap germs and bacteria. You can even add a 1/4-cup as a fabric softener in the washing machine (no, it doesn’t leave a vinegary scent on clothing) instead of those chemical-laden dryer sheets.

Luckily, keeping those mirrors, windows and stainless steel appliances smudge-free is as easy as mixing 1/4 cup of cornstarch into 4 cups warm water. Dip a cloth into the solution and wipe surfaces. Follow with a dry micro-fiber cloth or cloth baby diaper for a streak-free shine.

Did you know that one of the main ingredients in your nonchlorine bleach is hydrogen peroxide? That’s right — next time you wash, pour in 1 tablespoon as the washer fills prior to adding clothes.

For a safe daily cleaner, mix even portions of 5 percent distilled white vinegar and water. Add up to 1/4 cup of lemon juice and spritz after each shower. You can also put it to work in the kids’ rooms — try spraying on toys and surfaces.

For an easy all-purpose cleanser, mix 1/2-teaspoon washing soda with 1/4 teaspoon of liquid castile soap, 2 cups hot tap water and 5 drops essential oil. Pour into a 16-ounce spray bottle, and voila! Simply apply to a soiled area (I love this one for the kitchen floor!) and wipe off with a cloth.