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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Green Clean

By Janeen Lewis

What if the microwave cleaned itself, or the shower never grew mold, or stains disappeared from clothing in the spring air? The following green-cleaning hacks deliver the look and fresh feeling of a spic-and-span house without harsh chemicals or hard work. In fact, some of these tricks are so effortless, parents may find that they can actually relax and enjoy some self-care time! At the very least, there will be more hands to do the work—since there are no caustic cleaners, children can help with the chores. Either way, spring cleaning will be a breeze.


1. Remove dried-on food particles from the microwave without scrubbing. Cut a lemon in half and put both halves in a microwave- safe bowl with half a cup of water. Heat for five minutes. When time is up, wait 15 minutes with the microwave door shut. Open and wipe with a dry cloth. Baked-on food will slide right off.

2. Disinfect the garbage disposal by sprinkling with baking soda, adding warm water, and gently scrubbing the rubber insert with a toothbrush. Rinse. Toss frozen vinegar cubes down the sink and, with the water on, grind the ice in the disposal.

3. Make a stainless steel sink sparkle by sprinkling baking soda in it. Gently scrub with a sponge, then rinse away. Soak dishrags in white vinegar and place in your sink and on the faucets. Wait 15 minutes then wipe out the sink. The vinegar will remove water spots and leave the sink shiny.

4. Line the bottom of the kitchen garbage can with newspaper to soak up spills and catch food scraps.

5. Love smoothies but hate cleaning the blender? Put warm water and a few drops of dish liquid in the dirty blender. With the lid on, turn on blender. Dump the dirty water, rinse, and presto! You’re done.


6. Disinfect the toilet by sprinkling baking soda in the bowl. Scrub the bowl and under the rim with a toilet brush at night before going to bed. Pour in a cup of white vinegar, which will cause a foaming action. While you sleep, let the vinegar and baking soda do the work! Flush in the morning.

7. Keep mildew from growing in a clean shower by wiping it down with a dry hand towel after each use, saving hours of scrubbing later. For a dirty shower, mix equal parts white vinegar and dishwashing liquid. Use a sponge to gently scrub the shower with the mixture, then rinse. (Don’t use vinegar on marble or natural stone.)

8. Hate mildew on your plastic shower curtain liner? Wash it in the gentle cycle of your washing machine on Warm. Then hang it up to dry. To keep mildew from growing back, spray the liner with equal parts water and vinegar.

9. Clean crusty bathroom faucets by soaking cleaning rags with white vinegar. Wrap the rags around the faucets and wait 30 minutes. Gently scrub away hardened water deposits with a toothbrush and rinse.


10. Add one-half cup of white vinegar to half a gallon warm water to mop your kitchen floor. Don’t like the smell of vinegar? Add a few drops of essential oil to the water. Again, don’t use vinegar on natural stone or marble, and test an inconspicuous area before mopping a hardwood floor.


11. Clean blinds by making a solution with equal parts water and white vinegar. Spray it on an old sock and wipe the blinds with it.

12. Forget scrubbing—use a squeegee to clean windows and mirrors. Put a squirt of dishwashing liquid in approximately half a bucket of water. Use a sponge to apply the soapy water. Squeegee off for streak-free windows.  

Furniture and Fixtures

13. Squeegees aren’t only for windows. Use them to remove embedded pet hair from furniture and carpets.

14. Did someone forget to use a coaster and now there is an unsightly water ring on the table? Use your iron to get it out! Empty all the water out of the iron. Put it on high heat. Cover the water stain with a white pillowcase. Move the hot iron back and forth over the pillowcase. The spot will disappear.

15. Make dusting easier by using a microfiber mitt that will trap dust rather than relocate it. When you are done, toss the mitt in the washer, but don’t use fabric softener on it.

16. Dust fan blades with a pillowcase. Pull the pillowcase over the entire fan blade and wrap tightly. Pull all the way down and off the blade. The dust clumps will be trapped in the pillowcase instead of falling through the air onto the floor or furniture below.


17. Stubborn stains on your favorite white outfit? Put that bleach down! Wash and then hang the garment out to dry in the sun for a few hours. The sun will bleach the stain and brighten dingy whites. This also works on colored fabric, but don’t leave it in the sun too long because the colors will fade. 

Janeen Lewis is a freelance journalist and mom of two.