Guest columnist Wendy Nan Rees offers tips for dog owners to incorporate green cleaning strategies into their homes.
Mission: Green Living with Your Dog
These days, many of us are trying to lessen our impact on the environment and find ways to live green. Personally, I am still learning and sometimes finding it difficult to do. When our habits and budget are set, learning a whole new way of living takes time. I wish I could just snap my fingers to make my entire home and life green for me and my dogs, but this only happens on TV. My plan is to start simple and pass along to you what works for me.
To implement green living with your dog, let's start with addressing cleaning supplies since many are toxic to you and your dogs. Here are a few easy tips on how to make your own green cleaning supplies. Of course there are times when a stain just will not come out, so do not feel bad if once in while you just have to go buy a commercial stain remover. They do have some enzymes on the market that will work great and are still environmentally safe.
Natural, and Recycled Cleaning Aids
Use sponges made of natural fibers. You can reduce your paper use by using a rag to replace your paper towels. Did your mom ever take your old ratty clothes and have a rag bag in the closet? Well, maybe it is time to revive that idea. Instead of a paper towel you could use a cloth napkin.
Safer Cleaning Products
When buying your cleaning products, try to find ones that are phosphate and chlorine free, biodegradable and non-toxic. While many natural cleaners suggest using borax as an ingredient, the jury is still out. Since there is some controversy over using borax, I would not suggest using it for or around your pets. If a recipe you find suggests using borax, you can substitute baking soda instead.
The Wonders of Baking Soda, Lemon and Vinegar
Did you know you can remove watermarks from surfaces by making a paste of cooking oil and salt? Just rub your paste onto the watermark with a sponge. Let it sit for a few minutes, wipe it with a soft cloth and polish it as usual. Salt is a bit abrasive, but can still be gentle enough to use on most surfaces. Baking soda and salt are both abrasive but are great alternatives to commercial scrubbers and won't harm your dog if he licks the residue.
Baking soda also works well on animal messes and protein stains like blood and grease. It can be used for its deodorizing properties as well as scouring. It can be used either as a scrubber by itself or you can make a thick paste with it and then scrub. You can also sprinkle it in your dog's bed, let it sit for a few minutes and then vacuum away pet odors.
Lemons are good for removing spots from hard water and soap scum, because of their acidic qualities. Lemons can also be used to remove food stains from dog bowls. Just cut a lemon and rub it over your spot. Or you can use lemon juice that has been squeezed on the area. Let it sit for about 30 minutes and wipe away.
Distilled white vinegar can also be used and is a great cleaner for floors because of its acidity. It also works well on pet urine stains and soap scum. Mix one gallon of water with ¼ cup of the vinegar and mop where you want to clean. This mix works well on either linoleum floors or hardwood floors. Try not to leave pools of your mix on the floor when drying.
Natural Carpet Deodorizers
Most people don't realize what happens to their pets when they use a scented carpet deodorizer. When you walk into a room and it smells as fresh as the meadow outside after using a deodorizer, that may seem great to us. However, we aren't down on our hands and knees all day walking around smelling it that way. Your pets are constantly bombarded by the smells we have in our homes. All the solvents, cleaners and other chemicals we use every day without thought could actually be affecting the health of our pets. To make your carpets smell fresher naturally and inexpensively, and who doesn't need that now and then, try sprinkling baking soda or cornstarch on your carpet and vacuum as needed.
Just start using your new cleaners one day at a time and before you know it, you'll be well on your way to living green. It's safer for you, your dogs and our environment!