Green Cleaning for the HolidaysAmy Thompson
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1: Use one cleaner for multiple jobs
Keeping things clean and green doesnt have to take longer or be more expensive. Fill a spray bottle with a quart of water, a quarter cup of white vinegar and a few drops of your favorite essential oil and clean anything from greasy counter tops to shower doors and baseboards. Using one cleaner for multiple jobs makes cleaning up more streamlined and certainly less expensive than using an arsenal of store-bought cleaners. You can put the savings toward a few gifts for your kids!
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2: Get the glow with salt and vinegar
Our kitchen was always full of the warm glow of polished copper kettles, collected by my Swedish mother. She managed to keep them bright without ever using harsh chemicals. A simple solution of vinegar and salt will bring out that beautiful glow as well as anything. She even claims cleaning with ketchup will do the same trick, though I have yet to test it out.
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3: Swap out your disposables
Paper towels have their place, but often a simple, reusable cloth will do just as well. I find the secret is having the cloths accessible. Gather up a stash of cleaning cloths and use them for everything from wiping up spills to polishing stainless steel appliances. If you store them somewhere handy like a kitchen or bathroom drawer, theyre just as easy to use as the disposable variety. And no folding required &mdash this is about making life easier!
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4: Break the paper plate habit
Its tempting to use disposable goods when feeding a crowd, but instead of going the paper route, think creatively. When people ask what they can bring or how they can help, explain that youre asking a few people to sign up for a cleaning after party. Have some holiday music playing, a plate full of munchies and cute aprons for everyone to wear. With the right atmosphere and the right attitude, the cleanup will be a breeze with nary a cup headed to the landfill.
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5: Go nuts over laundry
Soap nuts, natural laundry soaps and even homemade laundry soaps can work just as well as chemical-laden detergents when it comes to cleaning linens. Using mild, scent-free cleaners to wash sheets and towels has the added benefit of being safe for your sensitive guests.
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6: Preserve the clean
Once you get the house fresh and clean, you dont want to spend the holidays mopping behind guests who track in snow. A simple basket full of inexpensive slippers is a wonderful way to make guests feel at home and cut down on the frequency of floor washing. Besides, you have better things to do than washing floors, like sitting by the fire sipping hot chocolate!
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7: Co-op big jobs
Nows the time to pull out those IOUs. Enlist the help of some friends or family and take a Saturday or two before the holidays to spend a few hours at each others houses tackling the big jobs: washing and making all the guest beds, cleaning the rugs and curtains and washing windows. With a little elbow grease and good company you can get the big jobs out of the way and breathe a little easier during the impending holidays.
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8: Personalize holiday place settings
With a steady stream of visitors and houseguests, dirty dishes seem to multiply like something out of a science fiction movie. Consider having a special holiday plate, bowl, glass and set of silverware for each family member. Other dishes are off-limits until after the holidays. This means everyone washes his or her own instead of using multiple dishes throughout the day. Run the dishwasher less often, avoid a Mt. Never-Rest of dishes and keep Mom just a bit more relaxed and sane.
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9: Fill the house with good smells
Your green cleaning can pull double duty by filling the house with scents of the holidays if you liberally use essential oils as you clean. Mix the fresh scent of lemon essential oil with a little olive oil and vinegar to polish the woodwork. Pour some cinnamon essential oil into the bucket when washing the floors. Add pine or spruce oil to your bathroom and all-purpose vinegar cleaner to spread a little holiday cheer wherever you spray.
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10: Stay green post-holiday
Theres nothing merry about overflowing garbage cans post-celebration. After the holidays, I get itching to empty every corner of the house. During your holiday preparations, look ahead to the week after and ask yourself, Will this end up in the garbage or is there a greener alternative? Real fir garlands can be composted, unlike their synthetic cousins. Some glossy wrapping papers are banned from recycling bins, while others are easily recycled. Natural decorations like berries, cookies and pinecones can be moved outside after the holidays as snacks for feathered and furry friends.