Words like sustainable, eco-friendly and green get thrown around a lot these days and you’ve probably heard the term green cleaning. Green cleaning simply means using products that are not only safe for you but also safe for the environment and don’t emit any pollutants when used.
To learn how to green clean like a professional, follow these 10 helpful tips that will not only change how you clean but will get your apartment looking spick and span in no time.
1. Become best friends with baking soda
Bicarbonate of soda, well known as baking soda, is a must-have for anyone looking to green clean their apartment. Great for neutralizing odors and deep cleaning, baking soda is extremely versatile as a cleaning aid. Here’s how to green clean like a professional with baking soda:
- Carpets and rugs: Sprinkle baking soda on your carpets and let it sit for 15-20 minutes! The baking soda will fight odor and absorb any moisturize — revitalizing your carpet.
- Garbage can: If your garbage can is giving off an unpleasant odor or you’re really going after a deep clean in your apartment, sprinkle a tablespoon of baking soda into your trash can (before you put a new trash bag in it) or directly into the trash bag itself.
- Mattresses: If a pet or a child has an accident in bed, baking soda is an easy remedy to help dry and deodorize your mattress. First, remove sheets from the bed and soak up any wetness on the mattress. Liberally add baking soda to the impacted area and let it sit for 90 minutes. Afterward, just vacuum up the baking soda!
- Pots and pans: Get rid of unwanted burnt food and grime with baking soda! Just fill your problematic pot or pan with water and some baking soda and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
2. Naturally remove mold
Kill mold the natural way (and avoid whipping out the chlorine bleach). Mix a little soap and water to scrub away any mold or grime. Need a little more help besides elbow grease? Make a no-fail solution with 2 teaspoons tea tree oil and 2 cups of water. Tea tree is a natural fungicide and this particular solution will get rid of mold and any mildew!
3. Stains, be gone!
If you want to green clean your carpet or rugs, these easy hacks will help you remove blotches, dirt and residue. For a spill that just happened, splash soda water directly onto the spill and gingerly blot with a towel (opt for a real towel, instead of a paper towel).
Need to clean up a stain that has already set into the surface? Pour hydrogen peroxide on a clean cloth and press directly into the stain. Saturate the stain with the hydrogen peroxide and then let the spot sit for about 15 minutes. Blot with another clean cloth. Repeat as necessary!
4. Recycle and reuse old clothes and towels
If you’re looking to make an impact with your green cleaning, consider no longer using paper towels. Every day, over 3,000 tons of paper towel waste occurs in the U.S. and on average, Americans use around 13 billion (yes, billion) pounds of paper towels each year.
Go through old clothes — especially T-shirts — and cut them to your desired towel size. Instead of using paper towels, opt for these clothing scraps to help wipe up spills.
Not ready to give up paper towels completely? Swap to 100-percent-recycled paper towels instead!
5. Get zesty
Lemons are a key ingredient when learning how to green clean. Antibacterial and antiseptic, this zesty fruit works overtime. Here’s how to green clean like a pro with this citrus fruit.
- Counters: Spray lemon juice onto your countertops for a natural disinfectant. The citric acid will help fight tough stains and lift any dirt and grime!
- Cutting boards: To keep any wooden cutting board in tip-top shape, sprinkle salt on your board and use half of a cut lemon to scrub the salt and surface of the board. Voila! Good as new.
- Dishwasher: Cut up lemon wedges or fill a dishwasher-safe container with a cup or two of lemon juice. Load your dishwasher as normal, but know the lemon will work overtime on your plates and glasses!
- Drain: Cut up lemon wedges or lemon rinds and run them through your garbage disposal — this will deodorize your drain and get rid of any lingering scents!
- Furniture: Mix two parts olive oil and one part lemon juice together to make your own DIY furniture polish! Apply this sparkling polish to wood tables and chairs.
- Grout: Let the acidity from a lemon restore grout — just spray lemon juice on the affected area and let it seep in for 15 minutes!
- Microwave: Bring a microwave-safe bowl of water and lemon juice to boil in your microwave. Let the steam from the citrus-infused water coat the microwave for a few minutes and then wipe down the walls and the plate of your microwave to remove any food residue or caked-on gunk!
- Oven: Rid your oven of buildup by mixing together water and lemon juice in an oven-safe baking dish. Set your oven to 250 degrees for about 35 minutes and then let your oven cool. Take a sponge or cloth and wipe any remaining interior grime and food build up!
- Pans: Remove grease easily with the help of lemon! Just add a tablespoon of lemon juice to soapy dishwater.
- Refrigerator: Smell something off in your fridge? Cut a lemon in half and leave it in your fridge for about an hour! The lemon will absorb any icky smells.
- Windows, mirrors and doors: Mix lemon juice and water together in a spray bottle and spray these areas of the house liberally for a streak-free sparkle!
6. Stock up on white distilled vinegar
Similar to lemons, vinegar is one of the most popular household items that can help you green clean. When we talk about using vinegar, white distilled vinegar is the vinegar of choice. If you’re hoping to learn how to green clean with vinegar, try these helpful tips:
- Bathtub: Get rid of bathtub film by wiping the ring around your tub with vinegar and baking soda.
- Blinds: Keep your window blinds in top shape by mixing a cup of vinegar and 1/2 cup baking soda with 3 cups of warm water. Soak your sponge or cloth in this mixture and then wipe the solution over your blinds.
- Coffee maker: If you have an automatic coffee maker, get it squeaky clean and ready to brew a perfect cup of coffee by cleaning it with vinegar. Fill the water reservoir with vinegar and run it through a brewing cycle. Rinse your coffee pot out thoroughly before your next use!
- Laundry: Adding vinegar into your laundry can help remove stains (like deodorant), freshen up clothes and keep colors vibrant and strong.
- Refrigerator: Wipe down the interior and exterior of your fridge with equal parts vinegar and water!
- Shower: Wipe down your shower door and walls with a vinegar-soaked sponge to remove residue.
- Stainless steel appliances: If you want to remove fingerprints or smudges on stainless steel appliances in your kitchen or home, simply apply a small amount of vinegar to the surface of the appliance and wipe it with a soft cloth.
- Toilet: Add two to three cups of vinegar into your toilet bowl and let it sit for 30 minutes before flushing — this is an easy toilet deodorizer. Additionally, if you have stubborn stains, pour in the vinegar and use your toilet bowl scrubber to vigorously scrub away any scum.
- Windows: Mix equal parts vinegar and warm water and then either spray your mix onto the window or pour some onto a soft cloth and rub away any film, streaks or dirt.
7. Boil a simmer pot
If you live for the smell of clean (you know, the scent that only really comes from cleaning products) — try a green alternative and create a simmer pot. Simmer pots, also known as stove top potpourri, naturally enhance your apartment’s aroma.
First off, simply bring a pot of water and your chosen simmer pot ingredients to a boil on your stove. Then reduce heat to a low simmer and enjoy the scented water wafting through your kitchen and home. Try some of these popular simmer pot ingredients as you learn how to green clean your apartment:
- Bay leaves
- Cinnamon sticks
- Lemon slices or peels
- Lime slices or peels
- Mint leaves
- Orange slices or peels
- Pine needles
- Star anise
8. Leave artificial fragrances and dyes out of your laundry
“When it comes to cleaning your clothes, always opt for a home laundry detergent that doesn’t include artificial fragrances and dyes,” says Mike Bleier, owner of The Green Cleaner. “At my home, I really like Seventh Generation Free & Clear. For your dry cleaning and delicates, make sure you find a truly green dry cleaner that offers 100 percent wet-cleaning as an option — it’s the most environmentally sustainable choice out there.”
9. Praise and prune your plants
Since plants do an excellent job at naturally purifying the air in your apartment, it’s critical to keep them happy! To ensure your houseplants stay strong and useful for many moons to come — follow these easy steps as you learn how to green clean your houseplants.
- Prune your flora: Cut away any dead stems or leaves
- Dust regularly: Wipe down the leaves of your plants with a soft cloth and remove any debris or dirt
- Carefully spray the leaves: Mix water with a drop or two of non-toxic eco-friendly dish soap and gently spray it on your plant leaves. This will easily eliminate grease and dirt build-up. Make sure to wipe the leaves dry so soap residue doesn’t form.
10. Toss toxins
With these new green cleaning hacks in mind, now is a perfect time to head to your cleaning cabinet to remove any products that are toxic, not biodegradable or dangerous to the environment. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), products that include ammonia, nitrogen and phosphorous chemicals are hazardous to the environment, so plan to toss those, too.
Once you clear out your cleaning cabinet and you’re ready to stock it back up. Plan to purchase green cleaning products that are non-toxic, biodegradable and made from renewable resources (not petroleum).
Additionally, to ensure your new products fall into the green cleaning category, look for the following three things:
- Green Seal: The original green cleaning certification (established in 1989)
- Safer Choice: An EPA certification that ensures the product “contains only the safest possible ingredients”
- Ecologo: A certification issued by Underwriters Laboratories, which is a leader in developing safety standards
Lastly, check out the Environmental Working Group. This nonprofit offers a comprehensive guide to healthy and green cleaning with over 2,000 featured products.
Learning how to green clean is worth it
While turning away from traditional cleaners like bleach and antibacterial sprays may seem difficult at first, once you learn the fundamentals of green cleaning — it’s easy to tackle household chores and cleaning responsibilities in a sustainable, more natural way.