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  1. To make glass cleaner, combine 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice with 1 quart water. Pour into a spray bottle and use with newspapers to clean surfaces.
  2. To make drain de-clogger, mix 1 cup hot vinegar with 1 cup baking soda and pour them down (or on) a clogged or slow moving drain. Cover the drain with a washcloth for 15 minutes, then follow with a boiling hot kettle of water. Repeat if necessary.
  3. To make an all purpose cleaner, mix 1/2 cup vinegar with 1/4 cup baking soda (or 2 teaspoons borax) into 1/2 cup of water. This stores well in a spray bottle. For an antiseptic cleaner, mix 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons vinegar and 3 cups hot water. Add 1/4 teaspoon liquid castile soap to ramp up the cleaning power. Wipe on with a dampened cloth or use a non-aerosol spray bottle.
  4. To make carpet freshener, in a jar mix 1 cup crushed dried herbs, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 2 teaspoons baking soda. Shake well. Sprinkle a bit on your carpet, let it sit for an hour, then vacuum.
  5. For simple cleaning, rub in baking soda with a damp sponge and rinse with fresh water. For tougher jobs, wipe surfaces with vinegar first and follow with baking soda as a scouring powder. (Vinegar can break down tile grout, so use sparingly.)
  6. When you walk out of a room, leave it dark. Incandescent lights produce a lot of heat; turning them off not only saves money, but it also keeps the temperature down and lets your air conditioner rest.
  7. Keep harmful chemicals off your family’s skin and out of local water sources by using a plant-based laundry detergent like Arm & Hammer’s Essentials line, which also contains baking soda ($3 to $5; at grocery stores).
  8. Look for sheets made from 100 percent organic cotton (grown without pesticides and fertilizer), and by companies whose ecological guidelines are in keeping with those suggested by the Environmental Protection Agency (www.epa.gov).
  9. Clean with washable microfiber cloths, like those by Starfiber (starfibers.com), instead of disposable dusters. Electrostatic energy traps dirt and dust, and some brands can last more than 500 washings.
  10. Use products like recycled-denim insulation or plywood made from bamboo, which grows quickly. Bettencourt Green Building Supplies (bettencourtwood.com) offers a full range of environment-friendly home-improvement products.
  11. Look for light cotton towels in a waffle weave. They are very absorbent, so they require less water to wash and take less time to dry.
  12. Use paints without volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which form damaging ground-level ozone and can be bad for your health.