We all agree that a clean house is not only desirable but essential to the health of both humans and the cats who share our homes. Ironically, though, our homes are full of household cleaning supplies which can be harmful to our cats, things like chemical cleaners, disinfectants, and insect repellants. Here are some helpful "clean green" tips and ideas. There are a number of safe products we already have on hand that can be diverted toward safe cleaning.
Vinegar has a multitude of uses both inside and outside the home. Here are just a few:
- Windows: Mix 1/8 cup vinegar with a pint of water for a great window and glass cleaner. Use in a spray bottle and use newspapers to wipe and polish. For a particularly dirty window, add a tablespoon of dish detergent to the mix.
- Floors: Mix 1/2 cup of white vinegar in a gallon of warm water. Use to damp mop vinyl, ceramic tile, or laminate floors.
- Cat Urine Odor in Carpet: If necessary, use a black light to locate the stain. Use a 1:1 ratio of vinegar to water. Soak stain well, then blot with (recycled) paper towels or an old towel until all liquid is absorbed. Repeat if necessary.
- Stains on Clothing: Gently rub the stain with full-strength vinegar. Allow to site for a few minutes, then launder as usual. Helpful with fruit, jelly, mustard, coffee or tea stains.
- Clogged Kitchen and Bathroom Drains: Pour 1/2 to 1 cup baking soda into the drain, followed by one cup of hot vinegar. Let sit for several hours, then follow with very hot water. This tip is also useful as a monthly preventive maintenance, using 1/2 cup baking soda.
- Wood Cutting Boards: Spray or wipe with full-strength vinegar. (It also will remove any lingering onion odors.)
- Ant Control: Spray straight vinegar (or a 1:1 vinegar-water solution) around baseboards and other areas where ants enter the house.
- Weed Control: Spray full-strength on resistant weeds. This is particularly helpful if you have indoor-outdoor cats who venture outside occasionally to munch on grass. Also use to kill grass and weeds in cracks in your driveway or sidewalk.
It seems to be a toss-up between baking soda and vinegar as the most valuable common household product with a multitude of uses. You will see that they are often used together for double-whammy cleaning green.
- Soap Scum in Bathroom: Sprinkle baking soda in sink, tub, or shower, then scrub with a sponge or a nylon scrubber. (Quick Tip)
"Double your whammy" by pouring a cup of vinegar down the drain before rinsing the soda, a great way to keep your drains clean, fresh-smelling, and running free.
- Shower Curtains: Clean and deodorize by scrubbing with a paste of baking soda and water. (From the Arm & Hammer folks.)
- Microwave Cleaning: Sprinkle baking soda on spills and gently rub with your nylon scrubber. Pour a little baking soda on a sponge to clean food splatters on the sides and top of the microwave. Wipe clean with damp sponge.
- General Surface Cleaning: Sprinkle baking soda on a sponge and wipe surfaces down; rinse and dry. Works on countertops, stovetops, inside refrigerator, sinks, and laundry appliances. (You can soak the used sponge in a little more baking soda and warm water to keep it smelling fresh.)
- Cockroaches: Mix baking soda and powdered sugar in a 1:1 ratio. Spread in areas where cockroaches are likely to hide (under sink and in cabinets, drawers, and along baseboards.
Household bleach, diluted with warm water in a 1:20 ratio is a splendid disinfectant. It is often used in shelters and vet clinics and can be used at home to clean almost every washable surface, including countertops, floors, as well as litter boxes and plastic automatic water servers and food dishes. Rinse the latter two well with water, and let other surfaces dry before cats walk on them.
Lemons add a fresh, clean scent wherever they are used. Here are just a few ideas for using lemons in a less traditional way than lemonade:
- Make a furniture polish of lemon juice and olive oil in a 1:2 ratio. Use a soft cloth to apply, and then polish to a sheen with a clean soft cloth.
- Recycle squeezed lemons by grinding them up in the garbage disposal.
- Lemon peels are a good deterrent to keep cats out of your potted plants, as they generally do not like the smell. Or use them to keep stray cats out of your garden.