Keeping your living space presentable and sanitary can sometimes feel like a daunting task — it seems as if there are always more home cleaning Vancouver projects than time in the day! Day-to-day tidying is a must, not to mention those bigger cleaning projects (such as washing the windows or getting the dust out of the curtains) that must be tackled at least once a year.

­But don’t despair! The Fantastic Four cleaners — vinegar, salt, lemon juice, and baking soda — can make your household tasks less complicated and easier on you and the environment. ­ While sometimes it may feel like you live in your kitchen, bathroom or bedroom exclusively, let’s take a look around the rest of your home. It’s time to grab your green cleaning kit and get cracking!

Glass and Mirrors
­Forget ammonia-based window cleaners! The windows in your home can be effectively cleaned with 4 tablespoons lemon juice mixed with a half gallon of water. Other effective cleaners for glass and mirrors are rubbing alcohol and witch hazel.

­Another tip that old-fashioned household hint books often mention is that you can wipe windows clean with newspapers. While this may sound like a totally green idea — after all, you’d be reusing newspapers and saving on paper towels — the reality is that doing so is a messy and big waste of time. Try using a clean, lint-free rag instead, perhaps an old cotton T-shirt or cloth diaper.­ ­

Vinyl
Dipping a cloth in straight lemon juice and rubbing it onto the stained area can remove stains on vinyl items such as recliners or tile flooring.

Furniture Polishing
Furniture polish remains high on our list of the Terrible Ten (including drain cleaners, over cleaners, toilet cleaners, spot removers, silver and other metal polishes, cleaners and powered cleaners, window cleaners, bleach, liquid cleaners) because polish is usually made of petroleum distillates and solvents, both of which are hazardous and, well, smelly. At the very least, they’re both poisonous, so why keep them around when there are plenty of earth-friendly ways to polish your wood items?

One very effective wood polish sounds like it would be a good salad dressing as well: Just mix 2 parts olive oil with 1 part lemon juice and apply it to your furniture using a soft cloth. The combination gives your wood furniture a nice smell and a sparkling shine.

Paint Odors
Whenever you have an indoor painting project, you can help control the smell of the paint by keeping small dishes of vinegar scattered about in the room. The vinegar will absorb the paint odor while you work. Leave the dishes out for a few days after finishing the project to keep the paint smell at bay. Remember to change the vinegar each day.

Metal Work
Metal polishes, such as those for brass, copper, stainless steel, and chrome, are also on our Terrible Ten list — and for good reason. Most metal polishes contain ammonia and usually at least one type of acid, among other undisclosed ingredients. This is another area where it’s a good idea to try greener methods first before plunging into the use of harsh commercial products.

Reduce Your Space
It may sound overly simplistic, but one way to save time and energy on cleaning — not to mention energy resources — is to live in a smaller home. Too many of us are occupying more space than we really need. Over the past three decades, house sizes in the Canada have been steadily growing.