Green Cleaning for Fall | Seventh Generation
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Green Cleaning for Fall

Author: the Inkslinger

Vermont's autumnal glories are in full swing and that tells me that it's time for a round of fall green cleaning.

As we head into leaf season, green cleaning -- the art of using natural, renewable, and non-toxic cleaners and techniques -- is important as we begin to button up our homes for cold weather. Making things around the house as airtight as possible is great for energy conservation, but it means much less fresh air will be circulating. Lack of air exchange means that what we put into the air inside our homes stays there longer, including micro-droplets and vapors from household cleaners. So fall green cleaning is a necessity.

Green cleaning has other advantages, too. It doesn't leave residue behind, and it contributes to a more sustainable environment. When we practice green cleaning, we're not adding air pollutants to the atmosphere nor are we rinsing toxic chemicals down our drains and into water supplies.

Autumn is prime green cleaning season. Do it now before you get too busy with planning for the holidays. Here are some green cleaning tips for fall:

  • I start my fall green cleaning with the windows. Remove summer's dirt for a sparkling view of autumn. Do your green window cleaning on a sunny day to more easily see streaks and missed spots.
  • Wash your exterior doors to make them brighter and more inviting.
  • Open the windows and do a thorough dusting, letting fresh breezes carry outside whatever you stir up.
  • Wash ceiling fans. If you have forced air heat, give your grates some green cleaning TLC, too.
  • Launder your curtains to get rid of summer's trapped pollens. If you can't do this at home, look for a green dry cleaner who doesn't use toxic chemical solvents.
  • For serious kitchen green cleaning, move your appliances and scrub underneath where grime builds up.
  • Empty kitchen cupboards and perform some green cleaning on the shelves.
  • Steam the carpets to give them a fresh start.
  • Green cleaning also means prevention: Consider a remove-your-shoes rule to prevent dirt being tracked in.

A green cleaning checklist like this one will go a long way toward a great autumn. What green cleaning tips for fall can you share?

photo: marc falardeau


osofast2 picture
I have read the previous posts.on how to clean rugs and carpets. They have been very helpful. I usually use my Hoover steam cleaner. They have come out with an all natural cleaner but I ave not been able to find te solution. I have read that it is out. The prices is kid of high. I wonder why all natural products are so expensive? It is suppose to ave all natural ingredients in it. They take all the ad stuff out. So why is it more expensive? This is a concept that I don't understand. You re lays reading how it is better o use the natural products but alf of us out there can't afrd it?
bambik848 picture
I use Dr. Bronners Sal Suds regularly on everything including carpeting. It works great. I can highly recommend it.
catieschame picture
Hello! I have cleaned our carpets several times using a rented Rug Doctor, and have had great results. I rinse out the basket really well to get rid of the soap residue in it, and then I fill it with hot water, 1. cup of vinegar and a few drops of tea tree oil. The carpets come really clean, smell fresh and don't have nasty soap build up!
JSChristensen picture
I can't make any claims about cleaning natural fiber rugs, including wools--yet!--but I can tell you that I have successfully cleaned my polypropylene rug with good ol' Seventh Gen liquid laundry soap (unscented, in our case) for four years now. This area rug is our "track off mat" just inside our front door. It is our only rug in the house, aside from the rotating collection of bath mats by our tub and kitchen sink, and it's easy to fit small mats in the washer. If you are willing to put some real work into the scrubbing part, and if your rug is not some delicate, heirloom-quality rug that needs special care, here's what I do to clean a rug that deals with pets, kids, avid gardeners, and more: 1. Find a flat, stone-free spot outside on pavement sloping downward. Lay a clean tarp slightly larger than your rug on it. Rinse tarp with water. 2. Vacuum rug thoroughly, lay rug on tarp, wet rug down with hose, pour laundry soap diluted 4:1 (water:soap) on using zigzag motion. 3. Using clean scrub brush mounted on broom handle, or clean stiff pushbroom, or just ordinary scrub brush (but you'll have to get down on your knees for that kind), scrub that rug. Start at top edge upslope, working downward, in "mopping" motion. If the weather is warm, you can get barefoot children to jump on the rug, or even scrub it. Fun! 4. Rinse rug well, using pressure nozzle on hose if possible. If rug is really dirty you may need to reapply soap mix. With or with added soap, scrub rug a second time with strokes perpendicular to the previous set of strokes. Rinse again, until you see no more soap coming out of rug. 5. "Squeegee" the excess water out using back of pushbroom or mounted scrub brush (flip it upside down, it should have a hard, straight edge). Work from upslope to downslope. Squeegee the heck out of it because it shortens drying time; also a wet rug is hard to lift. Important for last step: 6. Hang damp rug over fence, or two outdoor chairs, or back of clean car, or pole hung between two trees or similar solid setup, IN THE SUN. Flip over at least one time so both sides get dry and sunned. If you're worried about fading, dry rug in shade, but it will take longer. Solar UV kills a lot of undesirables like mold and bacteria, so we irradiate our rug. If you don't have access to a hose and pavement, you could try doing this at a car wash with their pressure hoses but not their stinky soaps. I have never tried this method, out of concern that their water pressure would probably take apart the weave unless I was ultra-careful. YMMV.
Staci picture
I have read about using vinegar and hot water as well as Dr. Bronner's castille soaps. I do not know of anyone who has used them.
1kooldogand2koolkats picture
I agree with you about guests coming over and not wanting to remove their shoes. Growing up, we never wore shoes in our house, so I followed suite once I got a home of my own. I know some people actually get upset with me when I tell them we are a "no shoes in the house" household. I bought a bunch of slipper socks and put them in a basket near my front door. I put a little note that said, "Please remove your shoes and put on some snuggly slippers!" People are much happier now...
dnleblanc picture
My family has been removing shoes before coming into the house for years. It makes so much sense to us, don't track filth into your house and your floors and carpets stay nicer for longer. It always amazes me though whenever we have guests, they always look at us like we are crazy for asking them to remove their shoes before coming in...
Kristin picture
Steamcleaning the carpets has been on our to-do list for longer than it should... what sort of non-chemical cleaners can I use with a rented steam cleaner?
osofast2 picture
I have been trying to get the members of my family to clean before fall gets here. For some reason they think spring is the only time? I have done some but have a long way to go. The carpets are next. Now I just need to buy the chemical free carpet cleaner. Thanks for the great tips.
jason picture
Great post, Inkslinger. Timely too. With Summer behind us and Fall colors in our near future, clothes and closets need recycling, too. We wrote up a quick process to expedite this that covers green house cleaning and organization to maximize productivity and green best practices on our blog here:
Megan picture
Many forget now that you'll have windows and doors closed, mold can grow quickly in damp areas and seventh gen bathroom cleaner is wonderful at keeping this nasty stuff at bay.
bohohippiemom picture
Install fresh filters on your furnace and fresh filters in your air purifiers if you have them. Also vacuum around the insides of the area on your furnace or central a/c and heat where you put the filter. It gets loaded with dust quickly.