Today’s guest post is by Amanda Scudder, Organizing Consultant with the company Abundance Organizing. Please give her a nice welcome.
Have you heard the song “The 3 Rs,” the incredibly catchy Jack Johnson tune:
Three it’s a magic number. Yes it is, it’s a magic number …
We’ve got to learn to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle …
This seemingly straightforward ditty holds a profound truth: three little words — reduce, reuse, recycle — are magic. There are endless ways you can apply them to your life — fun, creative ways that can cut clutter while benefitting your health, your budget, and your planet.
Today, I want to apply them to an often-unrecognized source of clutter: cleaning products. An unofficial survey of my Facebook friends revealed that the average American home has somewhere between a bajillion and a gazillion cleaning products stashed in cupboards, under the sink, and in other prime storage areas. Not only do these products create physical clutter, they also create chemical clutter, which can pose significant risks to your health.
The EPA reports that the air inside our homes can be five to ten times more toxic than the air outdoors, containing as many as 150 different pollutants, many of which come from petrochemical cleaners.
Let’s turn to the three Rs to tackle this problem.
Reduce — There are some easy ways to reduce the number of cleaning products you have to store and, more importantly, reduce the number of toxic chemicals in your home.
- Switch to an environmentally friendly multi-purpose cleaner. There are many on the market, some greener than others, so read the label and beware of green-washing (clever marketing phrases used to make a product appear more eco-friendly than they really are). For Consumer Report’s recommendations, visit GreenerChoices.org’s article “Can one cleaner do it all?”
- Another great resource is GoodGuide, an online tool to help you find safe, healthy, green and ethical products or to find out how your favorite brands rank.
- Make your own multi-purpose cleaners using three basic household ingredients: baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice
Unfamiliar with how to use these three ingredients to clean?
Use baking soda to:
- Deodorize pretty much anything from cat boxes to carpets
- Clean your shower
- Scour your sinks
- Remove grease stains
- Polish silver or your teeth
Use vinegar to:
- Wash windows and floors
- Remove product buildup from your hair
- Clean the microwave
- Clean the coffee pot
- Trap fruit flies
Use lemon juice to:
- Sanitize cutting boards
- Boost the effectiveness of dish soap
- Deodorize drains
- Remove stains
- Clean toilet bowls
Reuse — Because you are mixing your own cleaning combinations, you can reuse spray bottles and buckets, cutting down on the amount of plastic heading to landfills. Mild solutions of water and vinegar or lemon juice left over after cleaning can be used to water acid-loving plants like azaleas and rhododendrons. Stronger solutions can be poured on weeds you would like to eliminate.
Recycle — Turn old sheets, single socks, or stained towels and t-shirts into rags and use them instead of paper towels for cleaning. You can even tuck a dry or damp rag around one of those long handled floor dusters instead of using expensive disposable pads. Wash them and reuse them again the next time. Repurpose a plastic bag holder as a rag dispenser — pull them out through the opening in the bottom and, after they are washed, put them in the top.
So your challenge for today: find one cleaning recipe to try and see if you can eliminate at least two ready-made cleaning products from your cabinets. Be sure to dispose of any toxic products safely (check your local government’s website for where to dispose of hazardous materials in your community).