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Hurricane Irma

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Homeowner Tips for Home Cleaning

Spills and messes around the house are harder to clean after they have dried or been stuck onto surfaces. This is usually when people resort to harsh cleaning chemicals. One of the easiest ways to be environmentally friendly and save money is to clean up messes right away and follow a regular cleaning schedule. This way you can use milder cleaners and maintain a healthier, safer home.

Keep in mind that even regular household cleaners can be dangerous. Always read warning labels, follow the manufacturer's instructions and use the most dilute solution recommended. Store chemicals out of reach of children and pets, and away from foods and medicines.

Countertop and bathroom surfaces

Are you getting enough fiber?
Before using harsher chemicals, try using a better cloth or mop. Washable micro-fiber materials are the latest rage because more fibers mean more surface area for picking up soils. That means you can use less cleaning solution and less work for you. Disposable mop heads and similar products are not recommended as they generate more waste.

  • Time for your sponge bath.
    Sponges are great because they are reusable, but they can also be great places for germs to live. Clean your sponges frequently with soap and water, then sterilize them by soaking for at least 3 minutes in boiling water or a dilute bleach solution.
    Washing them in your dishwasher is a less effective option. Squeeze moisture from sponges when putting them away. Dry sponges are less friendly for germs.
  • A paper towel, please.
    If you use paper towels, buy the kinds that are manufactured with recycled content.
  • Team up with borax.
    Follow the manufacturer's instructions and clean surfaces with one tablespoon of borax dissolved in one quart of warm water. Be sure to wash hands with soap and water after using borax.
  • Arm yourself with baking soda.
    Follow the manufacturer's instructions and clean surfaces with four tablespoons of baking soda dissolved in one quart of warm water. For no wax and tile floors, try 1/2 cup Baking Soda in a bucket of warm water.
  • Is life giving you lemons?
    Then juice them and use as a cleaner for grease or soap scum and mineral deposits.
  • Some vinegar, please.
    For no wax and tile floors, try 1/2 cup of vinegar in a gallon of water.

Note: Whenever trying a new cleaner, always test it in an inconspicuous location first.

Window cleaner

  • Use vinegar for the windows, too.
    A 1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar, two cups of distilled water and up to 1/2 teaspoon of mild liquid soap or detergent makes a good window cleaner. Spray on the solution and then dry with a sheet of newspaper or lint free cloth.

Air & carpet freshener

  • Floral fresh.
    Putting a couple of indoor plants around the house can help to clear the air.
  • Did we mention borax?
    Borax is often touted as a versatile cleaner and deodorizer. For tough areas, dampen the spot, sprinkle borax over it, rub the area, and then vacuum after it dries. For general use, sprinkle, let sit, and then vacuum. Just make sure to dispose of the vacuum bag after using; and be sure to wash hands with soap and water after use.
  • Deodorize more than the refrigerator.
    Baking soda can be used to deodorize carpets. Sprinkle, let sit for at least 15 minutes, and then vacuum.

Oven cleaner

  • Good for baking and cleaning.
    Baking soda penetrates and helps lift off baked-on, dried-on foods from cookware. Shake on a generous amount of baking soda, add hot water and dish detergent, let sit for 15 minutes and gently rub tough spots. Rinse and wipe clean as usual.

Drain cleaner

  • Don't be a greaser!
    Never pour grease down the drain; it can clog pipes. Instead, pour it in a non-recyclable container and throw it out with the garbage.
  • Take action before you have a clog.
    Periodically treat drains with a build-up remover that contains bacteria and enzymes. This can be bought in your hardware store.
  • It's a hands-on job.
    When hair gets caught in the drain strainer or stopper, just remove it by hand.
  • Take the plunge.
    Clear clogged drains with a plunger or a plumber's snake.
    Note: Be sure to wash hands with soap and water after using cleaning products.


  • Buy phosphate-free detergent.
    All detergent legally sold in Florida is already low in phosphates, but phosphates are a major pollution problem for the Everglades. So, buying phosphate-free detergent is even better.
  • Buy clothes that don't need to be dry-cleaned.
    The chemicals used in dry cleaning are believed to cause cancer and residue on dry-cleaned clothes is considered an indoor air pollutant. If you must dry-clean, remove the plastic cover and hang the garment outdoors or in  a well ventilated area before putting them in your closet.

Used oil

  • Recycle your used oil.
    To learn where a used oil recycling facility is located near you, contact the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Back to Top Page Last Edited: Wed Jun 5, 2013 4:34:52 PM

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