Tell VT

Tell VT: Got a Creative Eco-Cleaning Trick?

What’s your favorite trick for keeping your home clean and green? Share your answer below—and see what others have to say. Our favorite responses will be published in the next issue of VT.

July/August 2010 p.10

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My Mystic Maid microfiber cloth is like my "green" machine. I don't have to buy window or surface cleaners since I started using because you just use it with water. The windows are a cinch to wash, and there's no streaking, even in direct sunlight. I've given these as gifts because they're such a find. (I've tried other microfiber cloths, but they don't work as well for some reason.)

Joan Banks - 2010-04-12 10:27:06

The trick to making copper items shiny again? Polish them with Ketchup!

Alissa - 2010-04-10 18:51:08

Every couple of years we like to grow our own loofahs in the garden. We use these to create scrubby sponges to use in the kitchen and bath. They work great for cleaning challenging dishes and after you are done with them, you can compost them!

Alissa - 2010-04-10 18:49:47

Reuse! paper bags for wrapping paper (you can even make bows, they're easy - also I haven't done this yet myself but people are making yarn (also rope) out of their plastic grocery bags and crocheting it into reusable bags/whatever you want. also plastic bag welding looks nifty.

Michelle - 2010-04-06 22:14:49

My two children and I make organic household cleaners with essential oils from Karen Logan's Clean House Clean Planet. Their favorites are Crocodile Clean and Merlin's Magic. The trick is to encourage them to clean their own spills.

Karen - 2010-04-04 10:36:58

Scrub the tubs and sinks w/ some baking soda- then rinse with boiling water from the kettle. Stains and germs are gone. I also wash all our laundry in cold- and as long as put in the dryer (or the sun) until completely dry-no germs. My washer is a front loader- uses less water- and my dryer is energy efficient. Also kill most yard week by spraying with vinegar.

Laura Hall - 2010-04-02 18:54:31

Vinegar for everything...excellent for washing windows, walls, a little in the clothes washing. I use old newspaper and vinegar to really clean glass windows, table tops. No residue fibers from the paper. I do use rubber gloves to keep the ink off my hands.

Shirley - 2010-03-31 20:53:29

BY Debby Hi, One of my favorite tricks to clean my stainless steel sink is to take a lemon, cut it in half,use the lemon and sprinkle it with some baking soda and scrub the sink with it! It works like a charm! Takes away stains and makes the sink smell so fresh!

Anonymous - 2010-03-31 08:03:27

I use baking soda for a myriad of things: it polishes my stainless sink and waste basket better than anything. It cleans all the burned on splatter that remains on the glass window in my oven after the self-clean cycle. I use it to "polish" porcelain parts on my stove top without scratching. It is also a great exfoliant, to be followed by a dilute acid rinse (vinegar or lemon juice) to restore the acid mantle.

Sara Strickland - 2010-03-30 17:01:53

Use a squeegee to remove water from your tile or glass shower enclosure everytime you shower. It will virtually eliminate soap scum buildup, hard water stains and mildew. It costs very little and uses no harsh chemicals.

Rachel Draper - 2010-03-30 08:08:37

Once in a while, wash your (not too soiled) clothes in water only. You’ll be amazed at the residual laundry detergent in your clothes and save detergent/reduce pollution for that cycle.

John Goodman - 2010-03-29 19:15:33

Sometimes we clean by, ironically, not cleaning. We have our names on our towels, so we may each reuse them several times before washing them. On sunny days I hang them outside. Otherwise, they are hung on the shower rods or my indoor clothes dryers. While cooking, use thick dish towels for wiping hands wet hands after washing and a separate one for drying dishes, etc.... Hang these out to dry, too. They are not dirty, they have only wiped wet objects!

Patti Glynn - 2010-03-29 16:51:19

A Handy Cleaner: This eco-friendly idea saves trees and money. Place a towel or rag in a handy place near where you typically place your paper towels. Former cloth diapers are the most durable. Each time you reach for the paper towels (except when you are worried about speading salmonella), instead reach for your handy cloth to clean up whatever mess you have created.  Launder when dirty. It would be interesting to figure out how many trees and how much money we save each year by doing this!

Patti - 2010-03-29 15:35:59

My son is required to wear white cotton polo-style shirts to school. I try to find new homes for the ones he outgrows, but sometimes they are too stained to give away. Those that are too stained I cut up and use as cleaning rags. I get lots of rags from each shirt that I can wash and use over and over again.

Susan - 2010-03-29 14:44:17

I take advantage of living in sunny southern California by harnessing the natural powers of UV light as much as possible. Periodically I clean our toothbrushes, bathtub toys, and other items with a gentle water and white vinegar solution, then set them out to dry in full sun.

Juliet Grossman - 2010-03-27 19:05:44