Baby Safe Cleaning for the Green Home

Is your home blessed with a baby or small child? You'll want to know these easy tips for baby safe home cleaning!

Is your home blessed with a baby or small child? You'll want to know these easy tips for baby safe home cleaning!

If you have a baby or small children, or you’re expecting, or even if you have small people coming over to visit, it’s a good idea to take stock of the cleaning products you use in your home. Many (ok, most) commercial cleansers contain harsh, toxic chemicals that can be especially harmful for little ones. These chemicals are not limited to the active ingredients in the cleaning product; they may also include fragrances, color and preserving agents. The toxins may never cause any problems for adults, but can cause eczema, airway and eye irritation, poisoning and a litany of other known and unknown side effects. Certain industrial cleaners commonly used in schools are linked to an increased rate of asthma.

"Parents need to know that there can be a trade-off between a sterilized kitchen and their baby's health," says Sonya Lunder, MPH, a senior analyst at the Environmental Working Group in Washington, D.C. And she’s not the only expert warning parents about the possible harmful side effects of harsh cleaning products. New research shows that developing immune systems are compromised by strict sterilization routines in the home.

So what can you do to ensure your home is a safe, non-toxic environment for infants and young children? First things first: If you do keep any commercial cleaning products in your home that may contain harmful ingredients, make sure they are stored out of reach of little hands. Put them in a high cabinet, or use cabinet locks if they are stored near to the ground. But it is probably a better idea to just ditch all of those products and use safer, and often cheaper, natural alternatives. When you mop the floor with a toxic product, the residue doesn’t really go away. That means crawling and toddling babies are very likely to come into contact with the toxins. So try these homemade cleaning agents instead:

  • Use baking soda and water to make a thick paste to clean grime and residue from your sink and shower. For lighter cleaning, you can just sprinkle a little baking soda on a damp sponge.

  • For toilet bowl cleaning, sprinkle a little baking soda around the inside of the bowl and scrub. Then add a half cup of white vinegar and let sit for a few minutes. (Don’t use too much baking soda, or you’ll get a toilet bowl volcano). After letting sit, scrub again and flush.

  • This vinegar and baking soda mixture is great for a lot of cleaning applications! The chemical reaction creates lots of little tiny bubbles that loosen dirt and other substances from the surface you are trying to clean. Try it on clogged drains as well!

  • For cleaning baby toys, pack-n-plays, high chair trays, etc., make a dilution of 1 part white vinegar to 1 part water and use a spray bottle to mist the target. Let the vinegar water solution sit on the object for ten minutes or so, then wipe with a damp sponge or cloth. The vinegar will kill germs and loosen dirt. (The vinegar smell will evaporate within an hour or two.)

  • Surprise! You can also use vinegar to clean your windows and mirrors!

  • Tea tree oil is antiseptic and antifungal. Use it to tackle mold and mildew in the bathroom!

As you can see, these safe, green cleaning alternatives can be made for just pennies, and will make your home a healthier place for you and your little ones.

GREEN Gift Wrapping Guide

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Every year at Christmas celebrations with my family, when it comes time to open gifts, the same thing ends up happening. A huge mountain of unusable holiday detritus piles up in front of the Christmas tree. All that gift wrap, and the tape and ribbons and bows and cute little gift label cards, ripped up and thrown away. Of course, I gather up the bows and reuse what I can, and recycle the rest, but still, it’s never enough material to provide for the next holiday, and I always end up having to buy more, much of which will only be thrown out AGAIN.

So this year, I’ve decided that I’m not having any more of it. All of my gifts will be packaged in earth-friendly, reusable or recycled wrapping, and I will get most of it either as part of the gift itself, or FOR FREE! I did a little research to figure out the best materials to use for attractive, green gift wraps, and I thought I’d share them here on the blog. Enjoy!

  • Paper bags Even though a lot of us have wisely transitioned to reusable grocery bags, most people still have a stash of large, brown paper grocery bags somewhere in the house. These are AWESOME for gift paper, because you can decorate them with markers or crayons. One friend of mine uses this method, and on each gift, she writes the recipient’s name in creative script with a Sharpie. These gifts are so cool looking, they don’t even need a bow. This would also be a great idea for gifts that your little ones are giving. Let them color on the paper before you wrap up the gift, to make it easier to decorate.

  • Baskets, Buckets, and Decorative Boxes When you package your gifts in reusable containers, the container itself is part of the gift. And it doesn’t necessarily have to cost a lot of money. Goodwill usually has a huge bin full of baskets for about $1 each, and I’ve also found some really nice decorative wood boxes at thrift stores that would be great for giving jewelry, small clothing accessories, or little knick knacks in. A simple terra cotta pot would be the perfect way to present a gift for a gardening enthusiast. For the foodie, a piece of specialty cookware may be just the thing to hold packets of spice or sauce bottles.

  • Winter Scarf Whether you knit one yourself or buy it at a store, a warm winter scarf is a perfect way to wrap up a medium sized gift like a book.

  • Sunday Comics Everyone remembers receiving at least one gift wrapped in the colorful Sunday comics page as a kid. While fewer people are reading physical newspapers these days, it can still be a special, memorable way to wrap. If you don’t read the paper, check in the newspaper bin at your local recycling drop-off location.

  • Road Maps NO ONE uses road maps anymore! But everyone seems to still have a few floating around, and they have a kind of visual interest that is hard to beat. In my case, I have a couple of old US road atlases in the back of my closet. That’s like wrapping paper for three Christmases!

  • Cloth Bags You can go all out and nestle your gift in a new purse, or you can put it in one of those drawstring linen bags that are used these days for green kid lunch alternatives. Or you can check out Goodwill again, and find the perfect bag to fit your loved one’s knitting yarns, library books or tablet.

  • Glass Mason Jars Great for cookies, candies and other food related gifts, but could also be used for homemade candles, lotions or cosmetics. Or golf balls and tees, or even a rolled up hat and mittens.

For ribbons and bows, you could use yarn or twine remnants, shoelaces, hair accessories or even a new belt! Get creative! I’m sure there are a ton of cool options I haven’t listed here. I hope this helps you keep your holidays happy and earth conscious!

Do you have any green gift wrap ideas or creative family wrapping traditions? Let us know in the comments section!

 

Thanks For Voting Us #1 in WNC!!!

Things have been VERY busy for us this summer, and some exciting new developments have been taking place that we wanted to let you all know about.

First, the results of Mountain XPress' annual X Awards survey are in, and we are pleased to announce that Green Home Cleaning has been awarded first place in the Home Cleaning Service category. And to top it all off, they put our photo on the cover of the Best of WNC insert. Check it out!

Of course, we couldn't have done it without our wonderful, loyal clients. So thank you for voting but more importantly, thank you for being the reason we do what we do. We are so proud of our little cleaning company, and all the hard work our associates put in to ensure that even as we grow and evolve, we still remain the best in the eyes of our customers. And we are filled with gratitude to know that we have WNC's Best Clients!

And... in other news, as you can see in the ad below, we have changed our logo! We thought it was time for a bit of an update, and we wanted our new logo to reflect the detail of our work, as well as the calm and serene environment we try to leave behind in every home we clean. Thanks so much to Atlas Branding Services for the awesome logo design. We couldn't be more pleased!

Along with the logo change comes a few other necessary transitions that are already in the works. You will begin to see the new logo on our associates' t-shirts, as well as on business cards and other promotional materials and on the website. We will be doing this changeover gradually. And we are in the process of revamping our website as well, so keep an eye out for an announcement regarding the new site. Already we have purchased the domain name "greenhomecleaning.com", so it will now be a lot easier for clients to remember how to access our site. But of course, you can still get there by typing in the old address ("greenhomeavl.com") as well.

 Finally, we are now taking credit card payments! So please let us know if this is a payment option that appeals to you.

Thank you again for being the greatest bunch of clients a cleaning company could ask for! Enjoy the rest of your summer!