Cleaning Green

Jan 25, 2014 | 2014 Articles, Going Green, Tess Mize

by Tess Mize

Cleaning is just not my cup of tea. I know some people who actually enjoy scrubbing dishes, windows and floors, but those people also probably get help dressing from birds and mice and have cordial relationships with various fuzzy woodland creatures. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit the number of hours I’ve spent perusing Pinterest for cleaning tips. If I’d spent half that time actually cleaning, my house would be immaculate. I need techniques that get the job done fast, so I can do other things that don’t involve rubber gloves and suds.

I’ve also read a lot about the effect harsh household cleaners have on the environment. The EPA has listed several common components in household cleaners as being the worst environmental hazards in household cleaning. Among them are phosphorous, ammonia, and nitrogen. Phosphorous is a major ingredient in dishwashing detergents, nitrogen can be found in glass, floor and surface cleaners, and ammonia is–well–ammonia. All of the everyday cleaners we’ve used for years have been quietly contributing to the pollution of our water sources and the air we breathe.

There is no shortage of advice for environmentally-friendly household cleaning on the internet, especially Pinterest. So I went searching for some DIY tips I could try at home, hopefully with fast results. I chose my tiled floor as my first test subject. I have a dog, so the floor never stays clean for long–dirt, dust and dog hair accumulate at top speed. When I mop, no matter how often I rinse, dirty water always gets into the grout and makes it look dingy. Sounds like the perfect guinea pig to see if anything can get the job done better than the old fashioned bleach cleaners.

I found a recipe for a tile and grout cleaner made from a simple mixture of water, baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice. That’s all it calls for! I had all of those ingredients on hand in my kitchen or laundry room, so I whipped up a quick batch. It felt like making a second grade science project–I was half-tempted to forget about cleaning and make a model volcano! I didn’t have any red food coloring for the lava, so I persisted in my original task. The instructions said to spray the solution onto the tile and grout, let it sit for a few minutes and then scrub it up. I left it for about five minutes before scrubbing with a stuff brush.

Grout After Shot

The process was about the same as any other floor cleaner (apart from actually making it myself), and the results were about the same, too. When compared to the harsh chemicals, I’d probably choose this method, but it wasn’t quite the “miracle” cleaner depicted online. However, I feel better about using natural ingredients, if only because I can actually pronounce everything in it, and it was cheaper than buying a big jug of chemical cleaner. Also, when I let the dog in, I don’t have to worry about her licking something off the floor and wondering if she ingested something harmful! Win-win-win!

Here’s the recipe I used, if you want to try it:
7 cups water
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup baking soda
¼ cup white vinegar
Put it in a spray bottle and go to town!
(Remember: lemon juice and vinegar can be corrosive over time, so don’t forget to regularly seal your grout. But that consideration is the same no matter what cleaner you use.)

My source pin:

If you’re interested in learning more about what the EPA has to say about harmful household cleaners, visit:

Watch for more going green household tips from Tess over the next few months!

Tess Mize is a Navy wife who lives in her current adopted hometown of Hanford with her husband and dog. She is active in her church and enjoys volunteering in the community and performing in local theater productions. She originally hails from Fayetteville, Georgia, and is an alumnus of the University of South Carolina, where she earned a degree in English Literature.



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