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Put green into your spring cleaning

Think green when you spring clean.

From good old cleaning concoctions — such as grandma's paste of baking soda and water — to new, sleek lines of green cleaners popping up in big box stores, green is truly the color of spring.

"There are a lot of really good products out there," said Robin Penrose, whose Louisville house-cleaning business, RobinWorks4You, includes a green-cleaning option.

Green cleaning has been around for generations, said Victoria Guy, who buys cleaning products for Lexington's Good Foods Market. Now, she said, it is gaining mainstream popularity.

"It's on our radar now," she said. "More people care than just Ed Begley Jr."

So how to make it work for you? Here are some tips from Guy and Penrose.

Micro manage: Instead of using paper towels, use reusable micro-fiber cloths. To clean those tricky ceiling fans and other high spaces, use a micro-fiber cloth mounted on an extended handle.

Think steam: Steam cleaners are a chemical-free way to clean counter tops, cabinets and floors. Check out the best picks at

Read carefully: Look for the words non-toxic and biodegradable on the label to make sure a product is truly green. It's a good sign if there is a Web site on the package. That means the company wants to provide you with answers to whatever questions you might have.

Certified: If a product includes the BPI logo, that means its certified by the Biodegradable Product Institute and can be put into your compost pile.

Old is new: Bon-Ami cleanser, which is celebrating its 120th anniversary, has started playing up its earth-friendly credentials on its package. Check it out at Murphy's Oil Soap has long been a great option for maintaining wood floors. Go to

Mix it up: Seriously, vinegar and baking soda can be used for a variety of tasks, including unclogging sinks and cleaning counter tops.

Keep it simple: Look for a product that has multiple uses. For example, Restore the Earth offers a general cleanser made from natural, bio degradable ingredients. Go to for more information. Botanic Gold, in various concentrations, can be used to clean surfaces as diverse as car tires and fruit. Go to

Flush out chemicals: Yes, "scrubbing bubbles" appear to eat through your bathroom grime, but do you want to use such strong chemicals in such a small space? Alternatives include Naturally Clean, at

Recycle, reuse: This is a great time of year to think of what you can recycle. Clear out all those clothes you never wear and get old magazines into the recycling stream.

Salt shaking: A sprinkle of salt has many uses, including removing stains and cleaning your cast-iron skillet. Check out uses for cleaning at

Good Housekeeping adds green approval seal

CHICAGO — For a century, the Good Housekeeping Seal has guided consumers. Now the magazine is hoping it will lead them to environmentally friendly ones as well.

In its April issue, which hits newsstands Tuesday, editor-in-chief Rosemary Ellis announces that the magazine will add a Green Good Housekeeping Seal to its quality-assurance arsenal. Good Housekeeping stepped into the green movement when it found that its readers were interested in buying eco-friendly products but felt lost in a marketplace of green garble, Ellis said.

"Marketers were slapping a lot of words on products — sometimes legitimately, no doubt, sometimes not so legitimately," Ellis said, citing the labels natural and organic.

"It just became clear: consumers were confused and frustrated," she said.

Products that have won the original seal issued by the Good Housekeeping Research Institute can now ask to be evaluated for the green seal.

The Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval debuted in 1909, and by the end of 1910, 200 products had earned the label. By 1941, it was renamed the Good Housekeeping Seal and has since gone through several changes. Today, about 5,000 products have the seal, which is issued for two years, after which products have to request a re-evaluation.

The green seal has the same sleek look as the original Good Housekeeping Seal, but it's dark green and has leaves on either side.

The Green Good Housekeeping Seal joins an eco-label marketplace that includes Green Seal, a Washington-based, science-based environmental certification standard, and an environmentally friendly online version of Consumer Reports,

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