Fall and cooler temps have arrived, so it's time to start pulling out our fall wardrobes from our closets. Some items may be in need of some freshening up, and depending on what they're made of, this might mean taking them to the good ol' dry cleaner.
Most traditional dry cleaning methods use perchloroethylene (also known as "PERC"), a chemical linked to bladder, esophageal, and cervical cancer, eye, nose, throat and skin irritation, and reduced fertility, and other health problems. PERC has been designated under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act as a persistent, bio-accumulative chemical that is toxic to the environment. Despite these issues, it is still used by 80 per cent of the Canadian dry cleaning industry.
BUT, it's not impossible to keep toxic chemicals away from you and your clothes. Here are some tips to keep your dry-clean-only clothes smelling clean and fresh, while protecting your health and the environment at the same time.
1. Hand wash it -- Yes, indeed! Just because a tag reads "dry clean only," it does not mean your item can't be hand washed in cold water with eco-friendly detergent, especially if the garment is unlined and made of natural fibres such as cotton, silk or linen. Note: before washing dark colours, be sure to test a small, not easily seen area by putting several drops of water and pressing with a white cloth. If the colour bleeds, it's best to take it to a professional cleaner.
2. Steam it -- Steaming is a great way to clean dry clean-only clothes at home. If your washer and dryer have a steam option, you can clean your clothes with a simple press of a button. Alternatively, you can place your delicates in the dryer with a damp washcloth for 10-15 minutes. This will also help to remove wrinkles!
3. Spray it -- You can tackle odours by using inexpensive vodka. Fill a spray bottle and spray the underarms of a jacket or blazer. The vodka will kill the bacteria which causes the smell. Be sure the fabric is soaked through. Again, just be sure to test a small, unnoticeable area first before you spray the whole garment, to make sure the colour doesn't bleed.
4. Choose green dry cleaners -- If you don't have time to try these DIY tips, more dry cleaners are providing environmentally-friendly services. One site, the GreenEarth Cleaning Canada website, has a store locator tool.
The best way to avoid chemicals while dry cleaning is to avoid dry clean-only clothes all together. While looking for new clothes for your fall wardrobe choose garments made of natural fabrics that can be easily washed.
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You will never have to buy commercial dishwasher detergent if you make this recipe, shared on Hometalk.com by <a href="http://www.seasonedhomemaker.com/" target="_blank">The Seasoned Homemaker</a>. Mix together 2 C. Borax, 2 C. Baking Soda, and 6 oz. LemiShine (available at Target, Walmart, and most grocery stores). Use 1 T. per full load.
Save dollars and save the Earth by making <a href="http://askannamoseley.com/2013/05/the-best-homemade-laundry-detergent-and-why/" target="_blank">Ask Anna Moseley's DIY laundry detergent</a> recipe. It contains 1 (4 lb 12 oz) Box of Borax, 1 (3 lb 7 oz) Box of washing soda, 2 (14.1 oz) bars of Fels-Naptha (grated on a cheese grater), 1 (5 lb) bag of baking soda, and 20 drops of essential oil. Stir all of the dry ingredients together in a large bucket with a big spoon. Then remove about 1/2 cup of the mixture and put the 20 drops of essential oil in it. Mix well and break up clumps. Add to the powdered mixture. Store in airtight containers.
Say goodbye to that stinky blue liquid glass cleaning spray, because your new way of cleaning glass involves only water, dish soap, sponges, a squeegee, and absorbent cloths. Click the photo or the following link to <a href="http://chaoticallycreative.com/2012/03/16/window-washing-likethepros/" target="_blank">Chaotically Creative for full instructions</a>.
One Hometalk.com member discovered that a dusting of baking soda is the best underarm deodorant ever.
Do you love the convenience of disposable sweeper cloths, but feel uneasy about spending so much money and throwing out so much solid waste? <a href="http://www.creeklinehouse.com/2013/01/make-your-own-reusable-swiffer-cloths.html" target="_blank">Creekline House</a> shared her economical alternative: Cut up Polar Fleece fabric (like an old scarf or a thrifted sweatshirt) and affix it to the sweeper the same way that you'd affix the disposable cloth. Launder instead of throwing out! Use them forever!
You won't have to buy that odorous commercial goo remover when you have this recipe, shared by <a href="http://www.themakeyourownzone.com/2013/03/homemade-goo-gone-does-it-work.html" target="_blank">The Make Your Own Zone</a>. Mix two parts vegetable oil with one part baking soda. Apply it to glass jars with sticker goo on them, and rub off the sticker goo with ease.
Say "buh-bye" to the toxic chemicals, fumes, and high price of commercial scrubbing cream cleanser. Hometalk member <a href="http://cupcakesandcrinoline.com/2013/01/diy-eco-friendly-and-money-saving-scrubbing-cleanser/" target="_blank">Cupcakes and Crinoline</a> made her own scrubbing cleanser by mixing 1/4 cup baking soda, 1 TBS dish soap, and enough vinegar to moisten it to a paste. Scrub surfaces with a damp sponge and a blob of DIY homemade scrubbing cream cleanser.
Adding a quarter cup of white vinegar to the soak cycle of your wash is an effective, ecologically-sensitive, fragrance-free fabric softener.
You'll never have to buy artificially-scented lemon furniture polishing spray again if you make <a href="http://askannamoseley.com/2013/04/green-cleaning-cleaning-with-lemons/" target="_blank">Ask Anna Moseley's recipe</a> for lemon wood furniture polish. Mix 2 TBS lemon juice, 10 drops lemon essential oil, and 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Dab a microfiber cloth into the mixture, and polish furniture.
Synthetic air fresheners will be a thing of the past in your house thanks to Hometalk member <a href="http://www.hometalk.com/864171/diy-air-freshener" target="_blank">Made From Pinterest</a>. Her recipe is long lasting, and really cuts household odors. Mix baking soda with 10 drops of lavender essential oil, and place in a small Mason jar with a cheese cloth inside the ring instead of the metal cover.
You can stop buying tub and tile cleaner since once again, <a href="http://www.hometalk.com/917132/shower-and-tub-cleaner" target="_blank">Made From Pinterest</a> posted a winner. Fill the handle of a reservoir-handle sponge with half dish soap and half vinegar. Scrub your shower tile down with it after you shower, and then rinse off. You can integrate cleaning the shower into your daily shower routine, no muss, no fuss.
Save money on buying all purpose cleaner, and put your citrus peels to good use! Soaking citrus peels in vinegar adds the scent and cleaning power of citrus to already powerful vinegar. This recipe was posted on Hometalk by <a href="http://www.simplydixon.com/2013/01/11/citrus-infused-vinegar-cleaning-solution/" target="_blank">Simply Dixon</a>: "1. Fill a one quart mason jar with citrus peels. 2. Cover peels with white vinegar, place lid on jar, shake and allow to sit for 2-3 weeks. 3. Strain the citrus peels out of the vinegar. 4. Mix the vinegar solution and water in a spray bottle. (You can mix it in a 1:1, 1:2 or 1:3 solution depending on how strong you want your solution)."