If I had to choose one green item to take with me to a desert island, I’d choose white vinegar. My kids joke that our house runs on vinegar, because we use it for cleaning, as a fabric softener, to unclog drains (with my second favorite green item, baking soda), as a mild disinfectant and probably several other things that escape me at the moment.
It’s wonderful for removing that overpowering smell you get from new clothes. It cuts down on static cling and wrinkles if you put it in the final rinse in your washer. It removes the smell of smoke from clothes, curtains and even hair, although we use apple cider vinegar as a hair rinse and detangler.
There’s nothing better than vinegar for washing windows and getting greasy counters clean. Put a handful of baking soda in your drain, add a cup or two of vinegar all at once, and you get a mini-Vesuvius that powers away clogs and soap scum.
Next to vinegar, I’d have to opt for baking soda as a favorite green find. It’s as good as scouring powder for getting soap scum off the tub without scratching. Put it in your water-pic and/or brush your teeth with it. (I add a drop or two of peppermint oil for flavoring.) Put it in the tub to soften the water. Use it as a poultice for insect bites and stings. You can even throw it on a grease fire to smother the flames.
Third on my list of green essentials is Sal Suds. I use Dr. Bronner’s brand and I use it for everything. My son even used it to remove permanent ink from a rug. It’s dandy for deodorizing and cleaning stinky things like diaper pails and cat boxes (after you tip out the litter and any resident cats, of course) and great for toilet bowls. We leave some in overnight, brush and flush the next morning, and avoid the buildup that our hard water causes.
Because we don’t use bleach, we pour a capful of Sal Suds into the whites every so often and it works just as well at getting the gray out. It cleans our wood floors, painted walls, and everything else that’s washable. It is strong, though, so it might be a good idea to wear rubber gloves. I don’t, but I do rinse my hands well afterwards.
So those are my three green stalwarts. There are other things like liquid castile soap and essential oils that are part of my green toolkit, but they’re minor players. The big three take care of 90% of the household cleaning and maintenance chez Hawkins. Best of all, they’re really inexpensive, which is part of being green to me. If it doesn’t save money as well as save the earth, it’s not really green.