Green Wednesday: Eco-Friendly Outdoor Cleaning

From on May 28, 2008 in Green Remodeling

house-driveway.jpgGreen is everywhere. And now green has even invaded the chemical world of outdoor cleaning. Finally eco-friendly, outdoor cleaning options are not only great for your yard and the environment, but also your budget. Thanks to the awareness and determination of homeowners all over the world, even mega-stores now carry natural outdoor cleaning products. On top of that, many of these cleaning alternatives can be made out of products you’ll likely find stashed around the house, such as vinegar, baking soda, and water.

Here are some green tips for cleaning outdoors as outlined in a recent article from, which included an extensive interview with Calfinder’s own Dean Dowd.


  • You don’t necessarily need some caustic chemical to clean the exterior of your house. You can usually get away with simply pressure washing it with water. Just try not to blast water up under the lap in the siding and be careful not to apply too much pressure, especially with vinyl siding.
  • You may in fact, be able to do a sufficient job with just a garden hose and mild soap.


  • When cleaning with chemicals it is vital that you don’t soak your driveway as water runs off into drains and gutters and into the city water system or, worse yet, directly into local bodies of water.
  • Now you can find organic, biodegradable soaps for car washing. And not only are chemicals tough on rivers and lakes, but also on your driveway itself as they can break down the asphalt.
  • You can absorb and eliminate oil stains by using materials such as cat litter, sand, or sawdust and allowing it to sit for a few days. When all is said and done, simply sweep away the material and the stain should be gone.


  • That strange, bluish glass cleaner has been the run of the mill for time immemorial, or so it would seem. But now you may not even need to go to the store to try this trick. Using a soft, lint-free cloth you can either use baby shampoo or a vinegar/water mixture to get the job done. The vinegar mix will work best for grease or oil issues.
  • Window cleaning does not just entail glass cleaning. Harsh chemicals can have quite a negative effect on the window casing and mechanisms. You can use mild soap and water to clean most any window material, from wood to vinyl to aluminum.
  • For screens you should gently spray them down and lightly scrub them with a soft brush. You can do this in the tub, shower, or outside on a hard surface. If necessary you can use a mix of mild soap and water.


  • Using a few homemade mixtures you should be able to take care of the grit and grime that tends to build up on patios after hard rains and extensive use.
  • For metal lawn chairs, use a gallon of warm water, 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide, a bit of natural dish soap, and a scoop of borax. Spray this solution onto the chairs and let sit for about 15 minutes, scrub with a soft brush, and rinse with a hose.
  • For moldy cushions, mix tea tree oil and water—at a ratio of one teaspoon oil to one cup water—in a spray bottle, testing the fabric’s reaction first in a hidden location, and spray it on the cushion. You can let it sit without rinsing, the oil will kill the mold and the smell will fade.


  • For your grill you can use baking soda, which is a natural and non-toxic abrasive, to clean up rougher spots. For grease on the grill, use a citrus-based cleaner. Citrus is an excellent degreaser (hence you will find it in most natural kitchen cleaners also).

As you can see, there is a natural, eco-friendly way to do just about any outdoor cleaning task. Not only are these techniques green but they are easy, inexpensive, and convenient.

Source: Green Cleaning: Outdoors