Clean Filthy Floors the Green Way

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When you want a clean home (and who doesn't?) and you have made a commitment to a greener existence, but aren't quite sure about what you'll be missing out on by switching to green cleaning products, embrace the debate. In other words, take a serious look at what you'll be giving up by going green.

For one thing, you'll be giving up any short-term irritation (to eyes, nose and throat, mainly) and long-term health concerns that result from exposure to the harsh chemicals in commercial cleaners. Additionally, you will no longer contribute to any environmental pollution that may result from the manufacturing and shipping process of those potentially toxic ingredients.

Also, don't forget about all of the money you will no longer get to spend on your cleaning regime. Although many commercial cleaners can cost you multiple dollar bills, DIY green cleaners can cost you less than a single!

Yes, that's right: With green cleaners, you can make your own! And you likely already have the majority of the materials you need just taking up space on your kitchen shelf.

Here are some tips for keeping your floors squeaky clean with natural, non-toxic and green ingredients.

Tile Floors

Let's begin with one of the most basic natural cleaning agents: Baking soda! Not only does baking soda clean and deodorize, but it also scours and can soften hard water.

If you're like most people, you buy a box of baking soda, use 3-4 teaspoons for cookie batches and then the box sits on the shelf for months (sometimes years). The next time you're wondering what to do with the rest of the box, put it to great use by refreshing the grout in your tile floors.

Make sure you have a couple of hours to devote to this project because in addition to the prep 

work and post-wash, the paste will need to sit for an hour.

Begin by vacuuming the tile floor or sweeping thoroughly. Sprinkle baking soda along the grout lines and pour a stream of hydrogen peroxide directly onto the soda.

Try to keep as much of the paste on the grout itself and not the surrounding tile as you use a grout brush to scrub the soda and peroxide together into a paste and into the grout.

After an hour has passed, sweep up as much of the dried paste as possible and use a rag mop and bucket of fresh water to clean off the grit.

To wash the tile itself, pour a gallon of fresh water into the bucket with 1 cup of white vinegar and mop the entire floor.

Wood Flooring

Where wood floors are concerned, the less wet they are, the better. Start with the simplest upkeep of sweeping, vacuuming or dry dusting with a soft microfiber mop.

When you do use a wet mop, make sure that it is barely damp and not saturated, and do not allow pools of water to sit on the wood surface.

If you need a quick polish, apply a thin coat of 1 part vegetable oil to 1 part vinegar and rub in well. Buff with a clean cloth. As always, before applying anything harsher than water, test a small inconspicuous area first.

*Tip: Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning laminate floors and avoid soap-based or waxy cleaners as these will leave the laminate cloudy.

Green Carpet Cleaners

While you're scrubbing those hard surface floors, don't forget about the softer surfaces that receive an equal amount (if not more) of foot traffic. There are several ways to clean your carpets and treat stains the green way (again, test an inconspicuous portion first to ensure no discoloration to the fibers).

  • White vinegar and water (equal parts) mixed in a spray bottle can do wonders on fresh stains. Spray directly on the spot, wait a few minutes and then clean with a brush or sponge and a warm soapy water rinse.
  • In addition to cleaning windows and polishing furniture, cornstarch can be used to shampoo carpets and rugs. Fresh grease spots can be treated by sprinkling cornstarch onto the spot and waiting 15-30 minutes for the borax to absorb the grease before vacuuming.
  • Sodium borate, better known as Borax, is similar to its baking soda cousin (Sodium bicarbonate) in that it cleans, deodorizes, scours and softens water, but it has the added bonus of being a great disinfectant.

If you need something more heavy duty, mix together ¼ cup each of salt, borax and white vinegar. Rub the paste into the carpet and vacuum after a few hours.

What are some ways you have substituted green cleaning products in your own home?

Chris frequently writes about DIY flooring and doors and windows projects. His flooring interests range from tile to hardwood to carpeting and rugs.

Topics: Flooring, Going Green, Indoor Air Quality, Maintenance & Repair

Companies: The Home Depot

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