Green Cleaning

It’s time to get your home spring-ready. More than likely you have been buying the same cleaning products for years. However, it’s a good idea to consider switching to cleaning products tagged green or good for the environment. They aren’t just at specialty stores anymore; they’re popping up every day at grocery stores and supercenters. With more options comes confusion and uncertainty.

To cut through it all, we talked to Matt Pliszka, a scientist with Simply Safe Products. His company’s mission is to bring green cleaning to the mass market at an affordable price.

What should you look for in a green cleaning product?

First, look at your mainstream traditional brands. If the label says “warning, corrosive, danger,” that should be a big tip-off. If it burns the skin, then chances are it’s not good for you or the environment. Things to look for on the label are “non-hazardous,” “mild or nonirritant,” and “neutral pH.”

What does neutral pH mean?

A pH in the 7 range, that’s the pH of water. Alkalinity can cause skin irritation and other issues. Generally, if there is no mention of pH, then the product is either an acid or alkaline.

If it has a neutral pH, how does it clean?

Neutral pH cleaners use detergents and get underneath the soil to loosen it from below. Then wiping takes soil away. The detergents release the soils from the surface.Chemical cleaning agents attack the soil and surface, which can be very aggressive. Chemical cleaning also doesn’tjust stop at soil, which is why the surface you’re cleaning can become marred or ruined.

I have noticed a lot of cleaners use citrus or say they are all-natural. Are these green?

There’s an assumption that if it’s all-natural, it’s safe and environmentally friendly. Not necessarily true. Many orange cleaners use d-limonene from orange peels. It is a great cleaning agent for grease, but it’s flammable and an air pollutant. If you see a cleaning agent that says all-natural, be suspicious; there’s a lot of chemical processing involved in converting fruits into cleaning agents. Likewise for nontoxic because household cleaners are never meant to be consumed.

Which cleaning products are the biggest offenders?

Drain cleaners are the most hazardous. There really is no other option, so buyjust enough for one use. Of the most commonly used products, dishwasher detergents, tub-and-tile cleaners, and toilet bowl cleaners are the worst. Look for dishwasher detergents that contain no phosphates. Waste-treatment plants cannot remove phosphates, so they end up in natural water areas. •

Protect Your Home

Your Home, Alone?
Don’t let crooks steal your holiday cheer.
Plan to travel this winter? Make sure you’re not an easy mark for thieves. To deter break-ins:

• Ask a neighbor you trust to check on your home while you’re away.
• Stop newspaper and mail deliveries.
• Lock all windows and doors, including those in your garage and basement.
• Ask someone to shovel snow, if needed, during your absence.
• Use timers on exterior and interior lights and radios to make your house appear occupied.
• Put away tools and ladders — no need to help the bad guys break in.
• Advise your security company of your plans.
• Don’t “tweet” that you’re traveling.

Antique Questions & Answers

Q: At a recent yard sale, I purchased a radio with a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs design. The radio still plays and has a good tone. Any information you can give me will be appreciated.

A: Your radio was manufactured by Emerson in 1939. The tuning and volume knobs, if original, are acorn designs and a jewel on Snow White’s dress lights up when the unit is turned on. According to the Official Price Guide to Disney Collectibles by Ted Hake, your radio is valued in the $825 to $3 250 range, depending on condition.

Q: I am getting older and would like to liquidate some of my older expensive collectibles and antiques. How do I go about finding a reputable dealer?

A: You should first find and identify dealers who buy and sell the items like those that you have. Don’t contact a furniture store if you have mostly collectible glass. Your next step is to ask for references and credentials. How long has the dealer been in business? Have there been any complaints filed at the Better Business Bureau? Most importantly, follow up on those references. Get informed.

Here’s A Tip For You – Actually Several

1-Get a wonderful shine for your hair by rinsing it with cool water and vinegar. Don’t worry about the smell; it goes away quickly, leaving your hair shiny and lustrous.

2-If you have mineral deposits in a narrow neck jar vase, try using a denture tablet. Add a small amount of water to the vase and drop in the tablet, breaking it up as needed. Let it sit overnight or as the package recommends and rinse well.

3-To freshen old plastic flowers, spray with hairspray.

4-To get rid of static cling on a skirt and slip, just pin a small safety pin to the inside of the hem.

5-If your small appliance has a long cord, try looping it and stuffing the excess through a cardboard paper towel or toilet paper roll.

6-Protect teeth on hand saws by covering them up in storage. Cut a length of garden hose to  fit the length of the saw, then split it down one side. Push the teeth of the saw into the split – an added benefit is you are also protected.

7-Want to keep your refrigerator operating efficiently? Try these two small tricks: First, clean the gaskets on the door, and replace them if they are loose. If you close a dollar bill in the door and can pull it out easily it is time to replace the gaskets. Then, stock empty space with jars or pitchers of water. Cold water is refreshing and helps keep air in your fridge cold.