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(MCT)—Spring is here and that means it’s time for a good spring cleaning. Instead of bringing in chemical cleaners to do the dirty work, opt for a deep, green clean. Using safer cleaning products helps create a healthier home and a healthier family. Today, I’m sharing my top seven green cleaning secrets to help you do your part for your environment.

1. White Vinegar Works Wonders
White vinegar is a natural disinfectant that works just about everywhere. Mix a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water for a germ-busting disinfectant to clean kitchen counters, bathrooms, and most floors. You can bring this mixture to a boil in the microwave to loosen stuck on food and grease. And 1 cup of vinegar to the dishwasher in order to clean its inner workings. One warning: don’t use vinegar on marble or other porous surfaces.

2. Baking Soda Solutions
Baking soda works well on most things in the kitchen because it doesn’t scratch. That makes it a good choice for countertops, oven tops, stainless steel, and the sink. If you have stubborn stains, use a baking soda paste of three parts baking soda and one part water. Let it sit for a while, scrub the area, and then wipe clean.

3. Tackle Bathroom Blues with Borax
Borax is an effective mold killer and works well on hard water deposits. Use a paste to scrub the sides of the tub to a sparkling white, or mix a solution of one cup borax with one gallon of hot water to eat away at mold in tile grout. In addition, a cup of borax left in the toilet bowl overnight leaves it fresh and clean.

4. Chose Air Fresheners That Don’t Pollute
Many popular air fresheners contain a host of man-made chemicals that can contribute to indoor air pollution and the manufacturers aren’t required to list the ingredients on the label. These “air-fresheners” can actually leave dangerous levels of hormone disrupting phthalates or formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) behind. Fresh air, baking soda (sprinkled in everything from garbage cans to tennis shoes), soy candles, or essential oils are healthier options.

5. Green Your Laundry Routine
Green up laundry day by switching to a phosphate-free plant-based detergent. For softer clothes add ¼ cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle as a natural fabric softener (use less for HE machines). The smell of vinegar disappears as the clothes dry.

6. Break the Paper Towel Habit
You can wean your family off paper towels by keeping a drawer of reusable cloths nearby. Whether you choose kitchen towels, washcloths, or cut up old t-shirts, the key is in quantity. Make sure you have plenty of options on hand for wiping down the counters or cleaning up an unexpected coffee spill.

7. Safely Dispose of Household Hazardous Waste
Household hazardous waste refers to items such as old paints, chemical cleaners, used motor oil, and more. These items should never be thrown in the trash where they can contaminate our air, land, and water. Locate a full service recycling facility in your area by using the search engine at Earth911.com.

When you spring clean this year, there’s no need to pollute your home or the planet. Instead, find non-toxic solutions to tackle every project on your list. You can find a complete list of green cleaning recipes at DoYourPart.com/Columns along with my must-have items for every green cleaning kit. It’s an important way to Do Your Part for the environment and your family.

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, eco-expert and author of “Do Your Part: A practical guide for everyday green living” available at DoYourPart.com. Send questions to terri@doyourpart.com.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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