Beautiful tips from the Green Living Show

Photo: Yek Mang

You don't have to give up luxury, comfort and beauty to go green. Follow these suggestions from our Green Tips guide.

Hand wash your dry cleaning
There's an unnerving list of chemicals used in the dry-cleaning process and most dry-cleaning solvents are highly toxic. Haven't you noticed the weird smell and the scratchy feeling you get in your throat after picking up your clothes from the cleaners? That's probably a reaction to the perchloroethylene (perc) and other petroleum-based solvents that are toxic and should be avoided. But these chemicals remain in your clothes long after you bring them home and put them next to your skin. Many items labelled "Dry Clean Only" can actually be washed by hand in cold water. If not, search out a cleaner in your area that uses GreenEarth technology. Many are starting to practice wet cleaning, using steam, heat and natural products to clean your clothes.

Showers vs. baths
A soothing bath definitely has its place in our busy lives, but for most wash-ups, take a shower. A five-minute shower uses 40 litres of water, whereas a bath requires about 75 litres to fill up. Check that your showerhead is a low-flow model; they release water at about nine litres per minute. Don't worry - that doesn't mean an end to good water pressure. In fact, many new showerheads increase the force of the spray by directing the water more efficiently. Installing a new showerhead takes just a few minutes, but the savings go on and on. A family of four, taking five-minute showers with a low-flow showerhead, can save about $250 a year on water bills. Go low-flow on all the taps in your house, especially the shower.

Grandma's stain advice
The secret with any stain is to act quickly: the more recent the spill, the more likely you can get it out. But don't rush in with chemical-based commercial stain removers.

  • Fruit/red wine: immediately cover stain with salt or soda water, then soak in milk before washing.
  • Grease on cotton: spread fabric over a bowl or other opening to allow water to pass through it, not soak in it.Then pour boiling water through it, followed by baking soda.

  • Grease on fabrics other than cotton: blot with a clean towel, dampen stain with water and rub with soap and baking soda.Wash in hot water as per the item's washing instructions.
  • Blood: think In Cold Blood. Soak in cold water immediately. If stain persists, mix cornstarch with either talcum powder or cornmeal in water and apply mixture directly to stain. Allow to dry and brush away.

  • Coffee/chocolate: mix egg yolk with lukewarm water and rub on stain.
  • Lipstick: rub with cold cream or shortening and wash with washing soda (sodium carbonate).

  • Ink: soak stain in milk or remove with hydrogen peroxide.
  • Rust: saturate with sour milk (adding 2 tsp of vinegar to a cup of milk makes it sour) or lemon juice and rub with salt. Place in direct sunlight until dry, then wash.

  • Gum: rub with ice. Gum will flake off. For gum in hair: rub some peanut butter into the gum and it will dissolve like magic.

    by Gillian Deacon