Historic buildings are natural allies of the sustainability movement. They are typically long-lasting, built of durable materials, and designed for passive heating, cooling, and ventilation. Reusing old buildings cuts down on the landfill waste, carbon emissions, and gasoline required for new construction.
- Vinegar is a natural disinfectant, deodorizer and all-purpose cleaner for everything but marble; its strong smell disappears upon drying. Mixing equal parts water and vinegar together yields a reliable cleaner for counters, stove tops, windows, appliances, toilet bowls, and bathroom floors. A half-cup of vinegar added to the rinse cycle of a load of laundry replaces fabric softener.
- Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and the abrasive, anti-fungal agent in homemade green cleaning products. One tablespoon of baking soda mixed with one cup of warm water makes an effective cleaning spray for dissolving dirt, mildew, grease, stove-top rust stains, and even wax. Mix in the vinegar, and add some steel wool and elbow grease to create an all-purpose, homemade green cleaning solution.
- Lemon juice is antibacterial, antiseptic, and a natural bleaching agent. Add it to the all-purpose water-vinegar-baking soda solution, or use it alone or with salt or baking soda to tackle hard water stains, soap scum, and mildew. It can also be used to polish brass and copper fixtures, as well as to bleach away stains from white fabric. Mix one part lemon juice with two parts olive oil for a natural hardwood furniture polish.
- Shoe mats to trap outside dirt at the door. The use of mats can greatly decrease the amount of dirt and materials that, when repeatedly tracked over historic flooring, can cause significant wear and tear.
- Microfiber dusting cloths and flat mops to capture dirt more efficiently. Regular dusting with soft cloths prevents the build up of dirt and particles that can accumulate and eventually destroy historic fabric while also limiting the use of moist cleaning agents that can encourage mold growth when used excessively.
- Frequent vacuuming of carpets, which harbor mold. Mold is one of the most common enemies of historic buildings because it grows easily and quickly, irrevocably damaging historic fabric if left untreated.