What's green cleaning?

Is it polishing the leaves of your houseplants? Washing your spinach, maybe? No. Green cleaning is simply using less toxic products to clean your home. The idea makes sense; however, implementing it requires thought and planning.

Everybody wants a clean and healthy home. Unfortunately, many cleaning chemicals are hazardous and toxic. But there are alternatives. Avoid products marked POISON and DANGER (you figured that one out already). According to federal law, these words indicate the highest level of hazard!

We should always read the label and buy the least hazardous product for the job. In general, the safest products

* contain less toxic ingredients than other commercial products

* are not labeled DANGER or POISON.

* have no scent or only a mild scent.

For added safety:

* Remember to use products as directed on the label.

* Never mix cleaning products, for example, products containing chlorine and those containing ammonia.

* There are many simple and inexpensive alternatives that work as well and sometimes better than the commercial toxic chemical cleaners. You can assemble your own green-cleaning kit. Let local retailers know what products you are looking for if you can't find them in stores. Share what you learn with your neighbors.

Also, use these less toxic alternatives to common household cleaning products:

* alternative all-purpose cleaners for kitchens and bathrooms, such as baking soda, Bon Ami scouring powder and natural all-purpose cleaners or soaps (Castile or Murphy's Oil)

* alternative drain cleaner (try these four methods in this order, as needed): pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain; use a plunger; use a "plumber's snake."

* If all else fails, call the plumber. And avoid commercial drain cleaning products marked DANGER or POISON!

When it comes to oven-cleaning, a little common sense helps a lot. Prevent baked-on messes! Wipe up spills right away. Place a foil-lined tray on the bottom rack to catch spills. If your oven needs cleaning, use an all-purpose scouring powder or a less toxic commercial cleaner without lye. Don't use an oven cleaner inside a self-cleaning oven.

To clean indoor windows and mirrors, use 1 cup vinegar mixed with 3 cups water. Rub with a cloth diaper, lint-free cloth or sheets of newspaper. For outdoor windows, use a sponge and wash with warm water mixed with a few drops of liquid soap. Rinse well and squeegee dry.

Call Seattle Public Utilities at 684-7666 for more information.

A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE... is a weekly topical column on neighborhood cleaning tips penned by Queen Anne Chamber of Commerce, Uptown Alliance and Mayor Nickels' "Clean Seattle" Initiative, an interdepartmental as well as public/private partnership designed to effectively focus city resources on designated neighborhoods, educate the public and demonstrably lead citizens to action.

E-mail regarding this story may be sent to qanews@nwlink.com

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