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Imagine yourself arriving home from a long day at work. You’re exhausted. You drop your bag by the front door and head directly to your steam shower. Twenty minutes later, you emerge refreshed and ready for whatever the evening will bring.

Wait. You’re not done yet. That wonderful shower that brought you so much peace now has to be cleaned.

Believe it or not, there are people out there who love to clean. Silly, right? For most of us scrubbing and wiping are just boring chores, not to mention unhealthy since so many cleaning products contain toxic chemicals. Because your steam shower is healthful and rejuvenating, keeping it clean should be, too.

Grocery store shelves are loaded with all the standard cleaners. So, I’ve put together a Top 5 list of green cleaning solutions that you can use instead. Toxic products are just not necessary under normal circumstances, and may actually end up damaging shower and countertop surfaces. Natural cleaners can cut through dirt with ease and with few, if any, adverse side-effects to your health. They’re also often more economical and can be used to clean any room of the house.

1. Homemade Lemon Juice & Water

We already have many of the ingredients necessary to make our own cleaning products. Check out the chart below to see which product works best on which kind of problem.

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One of my favorite go-to cleaners that I always have on hand is a ½-cup lemon juice and ½-cup water solution that I pour into a spray bottle. I use white vinegar in the same amount as a substitute for lemon juice, too. It’s a great glass, countertop and anything cleaner.

2. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day All-Purpose Cleaner

“Garden-fresh scents uplift your mood while adding a little spring to your step,” reads Mrs. Meyer’s website. Well, that promise alone would convince me to spend an hour cleaning. Mrs. Meyer’s products do not contain the typical long list of toxic chemicals, like phthalates, petroleum distillates and parabens, found in most cleaning products. The company derives its formulas from renewable plants, and does not test its products on animals.

3. Shaklee Get Clean Basic H2

Because this cleaner is concentrated, a little will go a long way. Shaklee has been ahead of the trend by committing to organic, green cleaning products since 1956.

4. Simple Green Naturals

This cleaner is the ultimate multi-tasker. Use it in on every part of the bathroom and in the laundry, too.

5. Green Works by Clorox

It would be really easy to discount this product. Clorox usually makes products that are chemically-laden. Could the company just want to jump on the green bandwagon? Perhaps. It’s worth noting though that a lot of people buy Clorox products. By introducing a fairly green cleaner (97% natural) at a reasonable price, the company is helping to bring eco-friendly products to more people.

Look for these symbols

All is not lost if you can’t find these exact products or make the solutions yourself. Before placing a bottle of cleaner into your cart, look for these symbols. They will help you identify the green products among all the others.

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Ecologo is recognized worldwide. Products, packaging and services have been certified as having reduced environmental impact.

 

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EnergyStar products must use less energy, save you money and protect the environment.

 

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Leaping Bunny ensures that no animals were used in testing at any phase of a product’s production.

 

Tell us what your favorite cleaning products are.

Bathroom Sink                                                      Photo Credit: hgtv.com

When it comes to choosing the bathroom sink, there are plenty of options to consider before making your decision.  Things like style, price and material are some of the frequent considerations that go into buying a sink. The lifespan of a typical bathroom sink varies based on use and abuse, but a sink normally lasts anywhere from 15 to 20 years, which means that once you’ve decided on a sink, you’ll be stuck with that choice for quite a while. While you don’t want to spend your whole bathroom budget on the new sink, you might also regret too plain of a choice later down the road. There are also stylistic aspects to consider, such as drop-down or vessel, modern or contemporary, stone or porcelain, etc. Your stylistic elements may be partially determined by your price range, as different materials and styles can be pricier than others. So, where do you start? How do you decide on the many different features and go home with the sink that’s best for you?

Price
It may not be the most fun starting point, but it is necessary. Ultimately, your price range will be the ultimate decision maker in your sink type. Once you start shopping for sinks, whether online or in retail stores, you will be tempted by the extensive variety of luxurious and eccentric bathroom sinks but these can range in the thousands of dollars. If you’re looking to make a big statement with your bathroom sink, this may not be a problem, but if you’re hoping to save your budget for a different aspect of the bathroom, you may finish your new bathroom feeling slightly disappointed by the less than all-out sink you ended up with. Have a set budget in mind before you start sink shopping, and don’t allow yourself to even look at sinks outside of your range. This will allow you to walk away with a sink that fits inside of your budget, you’ll know it’s one of the best options you had for the price you needed.

Material
Traditionally, sinks are normally porcelain or ceramic, but the modern and contemporary styles have stepped outside of these boundaries and have created infinitely more choices in sink material. Now, there are stone sinks, glass sinks, copper sinks and more.  Sinks can come in different colors and there’s something for everyone. Consider the type of material(s) that you’d like your sink to be made out of and look at the options for that material and your budget. This can weed out some of the time in looking for sinks because you already have your target material in mind and will be only looking for sinks that fit into this category.

Shape
Shape isn’t something that we immediately think about when considering new bathroom sink. Oval has been the traditional sink shape for quite some time, but the contemporary sink has taken on a new edge. Many sinks now come in square shapes, curlique spirals, and more. Will your bathroom sink be a more traditional oval shape, or will you step outside the box to experiment with something bolder? The choices are limitless and you might find yourself with a sink you never even knew existed.

Size
Size is another factor to consider when choosing a new bathroom sink. Will your sink fit into a vanity design or stand alone? Will you have a double vanity with two sinks or only a single sink station with a sink that is a bit larger than normal? Or maybe you’re cramped for spaced and you’d be interesting in considering a dual designed toilet-vanity-sink that will save room and allow you to squeeze in other important appliances? Just like the shape, the size of sinks can differ incredibly and it’s up to you to decide which size will work best in your bathroom.

Style
Finally, the element we’ve all been waiting for – style! The style of your sink may be one of the most important features you can choose.  Sink styles are vast and numerous and it is important to consider the rest of your bathroom as you choose a sink. Does your bathroom have a rustic feel? Then, a wood or copper vanity might be a great match for style. Does your bathroom have a more modern or contemporary design? Consider a vessel sink made of stone or glass, which can enhance the statement your bathroom is trying to make.

These are some of the key considerations to make when choosing a bathroom sink. Remember, you’ll have to live with the sink for the next few years, and the style you choose now may limit your options if you end up choosing a new sink design later down the road. Take your time finding the right sink for your bathroom and make sure you’ll still be happy with the decision, as with your bathroom, for years to come!

PetsPhoto Credit: pawsitivepetsit.com

Whether its cats, dogs, hamsters, or something in between, if you have pets, chances are, their odor is starting to take over your home. As a pet owner, you might be so accustomed to the smell that you no longer notice it, but your non-pet owner friends might be secretly trying to cover their noses every time you invite them over. If you’re pets are indoor pets, you keep the litter box in the bathroom or your pets have a tendency to shed and/or drool, you might be able to use these tips to clear the odor out of your home and get your home back to smelling clean and fresh despite the furry friends that may not be so mindful of their odors.

Keep the House Clean
It seems obvious, but this one can really contribute to eliminating pet odors in the home. Just like human odors, which most of us are so used to that we don’t notice, pet odors can develop over time and they become stronger after they’ve had a chance to build up. Simple chores such as vacuuming, dusting, mopping and washing fabrics such as furniture cover and animal bedding are great ways to keep odors to a minimum.

Keep the Pet Clean
Like you’re home, it’s essential to keep your pet clean. Have you ever visited a friend with a dog that smelled so awful you could barely breathe? Well, chances are, your own pet starts to smell like that from time to time, and even after you bathe him or her, that odor is still left on things like their bedding, your furniture, and the dust balls occupying every corner of the house. Give your pet a good brushing every day to reduce the amount of shedding, and keep your pet a good bathing on a regular basis. A simple rinse and shampoo in the garage sink or with the back yard water hose should do the trick.

Clean Your Pet’s Stuff
It may seem like a hassle, but cleaning your pet’s belongings can go a long way in keeping your house smelling clean and fresh.  Your pet’s bedding, cage, toys, dishes, litter box and anything else they use should be cleaned on a weekly basis. You should be able to throw must of their items in the dishwasher or washing machine.

Say Hello to Baking Soda
Baking soda should become your new favorite household cleaning product. Baking soda is a wonderful tool to help neutralize and remove odors from your home. Baking soda can be used as a natural air freshener. Just leave an open box out on your counter or near an odor, and watch in wonder as it absorbs and neutralizes the odors. You can also try sprinkling some baking soda on soiled areas or areas that smell particularly unpleasant and vacuum it up after it’s had time to sit for a bit. You can also add baking soda to the litter box to tame the odor.

Create an odor neutralizing fabric spray by adding one teaspoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to a spray bottle and filling it the rest of the way up with two cups of water. The spray will not have a scent, but it will soak up negative odors and you can spray on furniture, use it as an air freshener, or spray it over soiled areas on the carpet to prevent your pet from marking their territory again.

Air Out the House
It seems like another obvious tip, but pet odors can be significantly reduced by simply airing out your house. Many pet odors get trapped inside the house and soak into furniture, carpet and the pet’s bedding; but simply opening the windows in the house, turning on fans, and allowing a cross breeze can greatly reduce the amount of odors that are left in your home. Another option is to utilize humidifiers or air purifiers. Make sure to use HEPA filters and change them periodically.

Mask It
When all else fails, and you can’t get rid of the odors, you can always try to cover them up. It’s definitely not the best option, and will most likely cause odors to build up and become worse over time, but it can work when you’re in a bind with time and you just need something to get your house smelling less like pets and more like humans. You can use dryer sheets around the house and place them in the furniture, the pet’s bedding, and other discrete places. Carpet fresheners, scented candles, plug-in air fresheners and sprays are also options to give your home a fresh fragrance to cover up those nasty pet odors.

Try these tips and let us know what works best for your home. Are you a pet owner who already has some tips and tricks for keeping your home smelling clean and fresh? Leave your suggestions and questions in the comments below, and together we’ll overcome the scent of our beloved furry friends!