Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My Super Duper Awesome Possum Green Cleaning Campaign: Part 2

Here are a few of my favorite DIY laundry recipes and tools!

First up:  laundry soap!  Making your own laundry detergent is a great way to eliminate some of the harsher chemicals found in commercial detergent, and it's especially nice if you find the scents of those detergents bothersome.  You can find the recipe for powdered detergent here, or if you'd rather try a liquid recipe, there are zillions of them out there- just run a web search.  With the powdered detergent, I've used everything from Fels Naptha to Ivory to a frilly lavender scented soap... each worked great, so don't worry if you can't find the Fels Naptha.

While we're on the subject of laundry... did you know that commercial dryer sheets and fabric softeners eliminate static by coating fabrics in a layer of chemical residue?  Gross!  Instead of resorting to such gnarly stuff, you can add a half cup of white vinegar to the softener dispenser in your machine- it acts as a natural softening agent, and can also help to remove stubborn odors.  A few dryer balls in your dryer can help with static reduction- you can make your own out of wool yarn (check out the tutorial I did for my friends at City to Farm, found here), you can purchase wool dryer balls on Etsy, or you can buy the plastic variety just about anywhere you find laundry detergent.  Taking your clothes out of the dryer before they're completely bone dry will help with static as well, as it occurs when dry fabrics rub against one another.

If you really like the scent of commercial detergent, you can still make your laundry smell purty by using essential oils.  Dry your clothes as you normally would, and when they're finished, toss in a piece of fabric with a few drops of your favorite essential oil on it.  Run the dryer on the "fluff" setting (the one without heat) for about 5-10 minutes, and voila!  Your stuff will smell awesome without having to use the nasty stuff.

 Speaking of nasty stuff... I don't think it's really any secret that chlorine bleach is pretty harsh stuff- it smells hideous, it can burn skin and eyes, and if you spill it on your clothes or your carpeting you're pretty much doomed.  Did you know you can use hydrogen peroxide (the 3% stuff) in place of bleach in your wash routine?  First test for color fastness, just as you would any other spot treatment.  If all is well, spot treat any stained fabrics with peroxide, toss them in the hamper, and on laundry day run them through as usual.  You can also add peroxide to your machine's bleach dispenser to help brighten your whites.

Next up will be Part 3 in this series... stay tuned!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

My Super Duper Awesome Possum Green Cleaning Campaign: Part 1

More and more lately I've been steering our family toward a greener lifestyle.  The changes we've made haven't been anything fancy, but we've taken some little steps toward limiting our impact on the environment, as well as protecting our health.

Want a few reasons to switch to more Earth-friendly cleaners?  Here you go!

  1. I'll give you the easy one first- it's cheaper!  The cost of items such as white vinegar, baking soda, and inexpensive bars of soap is lower than that of synthetic chemical products.  I mean come on, who doesn't love to save money?
  2. Many commercial cleaning products contain ingredients that are toxic to both human and animal health.  Want details on a specific product?  Take a moment to poke around over at the Household Products Database that is maintained by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.  You can check out the eyebrow raising warnings and health hazards associated with some of the seemingly ordinary commercial products we all know and (unsuspectingly) love.  In other words, if it's that dangerous, do you really want to use this stuff in and around your home?
  3. Using synthetic household cleaning products has a negative impact on the environment.  Factors such as toxic ingredients, manufacturing processes and the associated pollutants, and the impact of certain chemicals on our air and water quality are all excellent reasons to ditch the harsh stuff in favor of the more Earth-friendly cleaners.
  4. You're far less likely to poison yourself if you accidentally mix natural cleansers than if you mixed, say, ammonia and bleach (in case you aren't aware, mixing those two produces heavily toxic fumes- don't ever do it!)  I mean think about it... what's the worst that might happen if you unintentionally mix baking soda and vinegar?  A freakin' awesome faux volcano, that's what!

I have put together what I feel is a really useful list of environmentally friendly cleaning agents, and I will get that posted up shortly.  (For the sake of not boring everyone to death I figured I'd separate these two posts.)  Keep an eye out for my next post if this sort of thing piques your interest!