Be greener, use less energy and eliminate toxic substances around your house: it’s a no-brainer. Just a few eco-friendly DIY tips and tricks along with a handful of small, inexpensive changes to your home can cut your electric bill and help you reduce your waste output by eliminating disposable products. Check out these 12 tips and suggestions for a greener, safer home including vinegar wood stains, natural home scents, non-toxic cleaners and reusable dryer balls.
Use Vinegar to Make Non-Toxic Wood Stain
Did you know you can stain wood using nothing but vinegar with some metal added to it? Chemical reactions between the acidic vinegar and the metal in objects like rusted nails, steel wool and pennies create different colored wood stains. Reloved Rubbish used steel wool to create the subtle dark stain seen above; get more recipes at Money Pit.
Shorten Your Dryer Vent Hose
Many clothes dryer vent hoses are longer than they need to be, dragging out drying times and creating a potential fire hazard. Make the hose between the back of the dryer and the wall as short as possible. Straight is best; 90-degree angles can cause flammable lint build-up.
Make an Easy Non-Toxic All-Purpose Cleaner
Vinegar really is pretty amazing stuff. It’s cheap, powerful and one of the safest ways to get virtually everything in your house sparkling clean. Give it extra grease-cutting power with the addition of one simple, natural ingredient: orange peels. The next time you eat an orange, don’t throw the peel away! Place them in a jar, cover them with vinegar, put the lid on and let it sit for two weeks. Then strain it and add it to a spray bottle, and you’ve got pleasant orange-scented all-purpose cleaner. [Recipe at Brandy Fisher]
Insulate Your Hot Water Pipes
Heat radiating from uncovered hot water pipes can waste a lot of energy. Decrease the heat loss from those pipes with a quick, easy and inexpensive DIY project. Most home supply stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot and ACE Hardware sell pipe insulation, which is typically made of foam and fits right over the pipes with minimal work.
Experiment with Natural Dye
Dye clothing, curtains and other textiles with food items that are already in your pantry. Blackberries, spinach and red cabbage are among the fruits and vegetables that can produce beautiful natural dyes. The striking golden yellow seen above was made using onion skins! Get info at Curbly.
Make Your Own Natural Fire Starters
No need to waste money on store-bought fire starters for your cozy fall and winter fires. If you have pine cones littering your yard, gather them up and try out a DIY project offered by Design Sponge. This fire starter tutorial requires pine cones, twine, candle wax and your choice of essential oils for fire starters that make your house smell good, too.
Kill Weeds with Non-Toxic Household Products
If you want to clear your yard of weeds before everything goes dormant for the winter, don’t give in to the easy and toxic solution of RoundUp or other chemical weed killers. You can kill weeds with varying degrees of success using non-toxic methods like boiling water, vinegar and cornmeal. You can also block weeds from sprouting with weed fabric and garden mulch, or layers of wet newspaper. Details at DIY Life.
Use DIY, Natural Room Scents
You can tell at a glance that these DIY natural room scent candles are going to make your house smell heavenly. The Yummy Life has step-by-step directions for creating mason jar room scents in orange, cinnamon and spice, lemon with rosemary and vanilla, lime with thyme, mint and vanilla, orange with ginger and almond and pine with bay leaves and nutmeg. They even offer printable labels.
Try Reusable, Green Alternatives for Dryer Sheets
Stop buying dryer sheets! A few balls of wool will help your clothes dry faster and eliminate static cling. They also act as a fabric softener without chemicals, will last for years and are hypo-allergenic. Learn how to make them at Simply Real Moms. Want an even easier, quicker solution? Balls of aluminum foil won’t give you all the same benefits, but they will cut static.
Two Tricks for Unfreezing Your Car Windows & Locks
Scraping layers of ice off your car windows in freezing cold weather is no fun at all, but the sprays that instantly melt ice are not typically environmentally friendly. Make your own with three parts white vinegar to one part water in a spray bottle. You can use this as a pre-treater as well, pouring the mixture into a bucket and applying it with a paint roller. To melt ice in car locks, keep a lighter handy so you can heat up your key before inserting it.
Install a Water Filter
(image via: brita)
There are few excuses left to use bottled water at home, unless the water in your area is known to be unsafe. Install a sink-mounted water filter like the ones offered by Brita and Pur, or an under-sink variety that won’t clutter up your work space. Brita even takes back used filters, so you don’t have to toss them in the trash.
Consider Hand-Crank Kitchen Tools
It may sound like a lot of work, but hand-crank gadgets can help eliminate a lot of the small electrical appliances in your kitchen, saving energy and helping you burn a few calories while you’re at it. The hand-crank coffee grinder above grinds coffee beans in minutes. Other kitchen appliances available in human-powered versions include rotary beaters, blenders and food processors.