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Eco Cleaning Your Home

Spruce up your house without all the chemicals with these five green cleaning tips

The sweet scents of spring shouldn't include Lysol, Drano and Windex. To get your house in ship-shape without the chemicals and costs, we turned to Jill Potvin Schoff's Green Up Your Cleanup and Amanda Musilli, marketing team leader for Whole Foods Market in Rochester Hills. Read on for their simple, Earth-friendly tips and elixirs.

1. Natural refills. Replenish your cleaning cabinet with all-natural cleaners. Many cleaning jobs can be done with products you may already have in your home, says Musilli of Whole Foods. For example, equal parts distilled white vinegar and water mix together to make a fantastic window cleaner. White vinegar also disinfects, cuts grease, removes mildew and odors. Baking soda, salt and lemon juice mixed together make a great tub and tile scrub. Or swing by a Restore Refill Station for an all-natural fill-up (they're available at select Whole Foods Markets locations).

2. Eco-friendlier dusting. Try reusable microfiber cloths; each has thousands of tiny fibers that pick up and trap dust, and they're reusable (as needed, just vacuum or launder them with other non-lint-producing fabrics). Or, Schoff notes in Green Up Your Cleanup, go a more-natural lambs' wool duster (microfiber cloths are petroleum-based). Hint: This is about all it takes to spruce up wooden furniture.

3. Outdoor furniture. As the weather breaks, keep the patio tables and chairs spiffy, according to Schoff's book. Wicker: Wipe down with warm water and a mild soap (hint: do it on a warm day, so it dries faster – and thereby prolongs the life of your furniture). Wooden: Lightly wipe with warm water and an all-purpose liquid cleaner. And for plastic: Read the next tip for an ideal general cleaner.

4. All-purpose liquid cleaner. From floors to cars, this recipe has you covered, Schoff notes. For a large area, just mix up a gallon of hot water, 1 tablespoon of baking soda, and 2 tablespoons of liquid soap or detergent. Add the soap last, to prevent it from over-foaming. Toss in a tablespoon of washing soda for heavy grease stains, or a tablespoon of borax to disinfect or kill mildew.

5. Toss toxins responsibly. If you do use store-bought cleaners, take the bottles to a certified waste management facility for disposal, says Musilli of Whole Foods. Want information on acceptable products and times of operation? Surf on to check the counties of Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne. Or browse for some of Whole Foods' cleaning products – and, Scoff writes, as a general rule, avoid cleaners containing ammonia, bleach, alcohol, dyes and artificial fragrances.

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