As we recommit as a congregation to creating a green sanctuary for us at UUCNH here are some things you need to know what you can do in your green cleaning attempts and doing the laundry efficiently.

Green Cleaning Idea:  Dryer Balls

We’ve recently learned about dryer balls; these can be made of plastic or rubber, but the best option is natural fibers, normally wool.  These ensure a non-toxic addition to your drying experience, allowing you to do without fabric softener or dryer sheets.

You just put several balls into your dryer and reap the benefits.  They shorten dryer time, soften and fluff clothing.  They improve airflow in the dryer; if you’ve had wet clothing trapped inside large items like sheets, these little balls will make that problem history.  They’re said to reduce wrinkles, cut down on static, and decrease lint.  They are inexpensive, and online sources say they can be reused hundreds of times.  To enhance your experience, we’re told you can splash a few drops of essential oil onto wool dryer balls to make your laundry into a fragrant experience.

Green Cleaning ideas for clothes washing

Wash items in cold water when hot water is not needed for sanitation purposes. Water heating consumes about 90% of the energy it takes to operate a clothes washer. New laundry detergents are designed for cold water. Unless you’re dealing with oily stains or items that need additional sanitation such as underwear, towels, facecloths, etc., washing in cold water will generally do a good job of cleaning. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut energy use in half. Using the cold cycle reduces energy use even more.

Run full loads. Clothes washers use about the same amount of energy regardless of the size of the load.  Run full, but not overfull loads.  Use the high-speed spin or extended spin option. This will decrease the amount of time it takes your clothes to dry.

Clothes drying ideas to save money

Use sensor drying instead of timed drying on your clothes dryer. This ensures the dryer will automatically shut off when clothes are dry This feature saves energy and reduces wear and tear on clothes from over-drying. Use the low heat setting for clothes drying unless high heat is needed for sanitation purposes. Longer drying cycles on a low heat setting use less energy. When extra sanitation is required consider hanging clothes outside in the sun. The sun is just as effective as bleach and considered to be one of the toughest killers of germs. Run full loads. Run full, but not over-packed loads. Use the high-speed spin or extended spin option on your clothes washer. This will decrease the amount of time it takes your clothes to dry.

Dishwashing with green cleaning in mind

Let your dishwasher do the work whenever possible. Use the dishwasher for items that are dishwasher safe. The dishwasher uses 85% less water and about 40% less energy to clean a 12 piece place setting as compared to handwashing according to a European Study. Skip rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Just scrape off the solid remains and skip the rinse. Today’s dishwashers are designed to power off the mess.
Run full loads. It takes the same resources for one dish as a full load.

Clean Naturally for green cleaning

If you’ve been hoping to get rid of the potentially toxic cleaning substances in your cabinets, you are in luck; there are dozens of sources that can offer you ideas for safe, natural, non-toxic replacements.  Many use common ingredients like baking soda, white vinegar and rubbing alcohol.  The list below is not exhaustive but gives a quick idea of the useful things these can do.
White vinegar seems to lead the list of natural cleaners.  Sprayed on full strength and allowed to soak, white vinegar can disinfect and deodorize most surfaces in the bathroom and kitchen.  Mixed with water, it provides a great cleaning fluid for windows and mirrors; combined with warm water and allowed to stand in a sink or tub, it can loosen hard-to-remove stains.  Diluted with water, sprayed onto a shower curtain and left to soak, it can remove stains.  One cup of vinegar in a gallon of warm water can be used to mop bare floors-and does not have to be rinsed, saving time over commercial cleaners.  White vinegar is also said to work well on carpets.
Rubbing alcohol can be used to make handy disinfectant wipes; just add it to a pack of chemical-free baby wipes.  It can also be used with a cloth or cotton swab to clean metal surfaces such as faucets. Baking soda mixed with water can be used to clean porcelain surfaces; use it to clean the toilet as well, by just sprinkling it into the bowl and scrubbing as usual a bit later. A fourth common ingredient in recipes for natural cleaning is essential lemon oil, which can be used, among other goals, to remove hard-water stains on metal surfaces.

Tips and Tricks

In case you’ve already been using the simple ingredients above, we found a few tricks you may not have yet tried.  For baked-on kitchen grime, for instance, try using a crumpled bit of aluminum foil; or actually, better yet, stock up on the practical and lovely scrubbies made by our own Craft Group at UUCNH.  To clean sticky bits from pans, sprinkle with salt and scrub with half a lemon.  Lemon juice features at least one recipe for cleaning glass surfaces; as does witch hazel.  Oh, and when you wash those windows, do use an old t-shirt or another clean rag, to save by not using paper towels. If you have a fireplace that’s gathered some soot and smoke smudges, try a paste of cream of tartar and water: apply, let dry, and scrub off.
To avoid using commercial furniture polishes, which contain petroleum-based ingredients, try mixing two parts olive oil with 1 part lemon juice; this will polish wood surfaces nicely and smell much better than toxic store-bought polishes, which tend to contain petroleum-based ingredients. And speaking of smells, if you’re painting inside your house, try scattering small dishes of vinegar around the room; change each day and leave in the room for a few days after the painting is done, these can absorb the paint odor.  Polishing tarnished metal?  One concoction for this purpose uses salt, vinegar, and flour in equal amounts to make a paste.

Looking for a supportive community to join?

UUCNH, located in the North Hills of Pittsburgh and now serving the world through the Internet is a great place to find support and the friendship of other like-minded individuals and families.  Our upcoming services are listed below.  Why not use the form below to get more information about our church community?  No matter where you live in our post-pandemic world, virtual membership in our community is a great way to connect with others just. like you.

Upcoming Services

Blessed by Animals

June 26 @ 10:30 am - 11:30 am

In a twist on a traditional service, we will consider how our lives are blessed and enriched by their presence rather than blessing animals. Congregants will have the opportunity to share photos and memories of their special animal friends.  To avoid shenanigans, please leave the actual animals at home.  

General Assembly Service

July 3 @ 10:30 am - 11:30 am

*Please note that this service will be all virtual. General Assembly (GA) is the annual meeting of our Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). Participants worship, witness, learn, connect, and make policy for the Association through the democratic process. View the pre-recorded Sunday morning worship service from this year’s UU General Assembly in Portland, OR.  The service will [...]

Optimistic ‘60s Music – Hopeful Hippies

July 10 @ 10:30 am - 11:30 am

The summer of 1967 is known as the "Summer of Love".  Although the war in Viet Nam was still weighing heavily upon the national conscience, there was a feeling of optimism in the face of such trying times.  Join us for the service on July 10th as we take a whimsical look back and reclaim [...]

UUCNH: The Big Tent

July 17 @ 10:30 am - 11:30 am

Representatives from Sunday Forum, Christian Perspective, and Covenant Groups discuss ........

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