Eating & Drinking

URBAN HIPPIE: Natural ways to clean (and freshen up) your house

Urban Hippie by Jen Lahey is published every second Tuesday at Follow Jen on Twitter ‏@Jen_Lahey.

With the chillier temps outside come more days spent bundled up in the cozy confines of our homes. But sometimes, those cozy confines become a little too, well, close, and our icy climate means opening windows is a no-no.

We say, why wait for spring to freshen your environs? Mid-winter’s a fine time to frisk through the house and get everything smelling like a breath of fresh air. But conventional cleaners tend to harbour all manner of questionable chemicals that we think have no place in our home, where they, of course, eventually find their way into our bodies.

Here are a few quick ways to freshen up your home without too much elbow grease, using easy-on-you-and-the-kids-and-pets items, most of which you probably already have around the house (hint: baking soda’s the star). Easy? Check. Green? Check.

Clean Green Idea 1: The classic that your grandmother probably used, because it works: a box of baking soda in the fridge or freezer, opened, will suck out lingering smells and leave each food item tasting the way it’s supposed to. But don’t stop there: that little box has a place in musty closets, too, and a sprinkle of the stuff goes well in the bottom of diaper pails, garbage cans, and litter boxes, too (a hefty sprinkle will do well in that litter box, natch!).

Clean Green Idea 2: Cooking up a storm tonight? Bravo to you for what is no doubt a delightfully healthy meal. Post-meal, put lingering odors to rest with a shallow saucer of vinegar (or two) left out on the counter to suck up odors.

Clean Green Idea 3: Good old baking soda subs in for harsh abrasive cleansers in both bathroom and kitchen when sprinkled on a damp sponge. Scrub away, then wipe clean. Ta-da!

Clean Green Idea 4: Nobody likes cleaning the toilet. Ease the job (and replace that weird blue goo cleaner) by adding half a cup to a cup of baking soda to the bowl, leaving it for an hour, where it will absorb odors, then give it a scrub and flush.

Clean Green Idea 5: Whip up a batch of the UH’s own Homemade Lavender Around-The-House Cleaner recipe, useful for most kitchen and bathroom tidy-ups. Take a standard 750ml (or larger) spray bottle (BPA-free if you please), add half to three-quarters of a cup of vinegar, fill the rest of the way with water, and add 10 drops (or more) of lavender essential oil. Seal the lid, shake, and hunt for a mess to gleefully take down, green style. (Feel free to use in conjunction with Clean Green Idea 3 for the grubbiest of, say, bathtubs.)