Cleaning the house isn't exactly something that most busy parents look forward to. Blowing off family time to wipe, scrub, and dust just isn't fun. A good solution is to have your child help with simple tasks. If the fact that many products aren't kid-friendly is holding you back, try green cleaners: You'll be surprised at how well some of the new eco-friendly options work. And the best part? They generally don't contain harsh chemicals. The trick to getting a younger kid psyched about housework is to introduce one simple chore at a time -- any more and he'll get overwhelmed. Your child can try wiping off kitchen counters or dusting the things he can reach. Older kids can wash dishes (or load and empty the dishwasher), clean the floor with a wet-pad mop, or take out garbage. Your child will learn how to pitch in as a member of the family, and your chores will be done before you know it.
Everything you need to make eco-friendly cleaners is right in your pantry. Clip and save these natural recipes.
All-Purpose: Mix a solution of 1 part vinegar and 1 part water in a spray bottle. Good on glass, countertops, and toilets. Don't use on marble.
Laundry: Add 1/2 cup of vinegar during the rinse cycle to soften clothing and cut down on odors.
Bathroom: Mix water and baking soda to form a paste to scrub fixtures and tile. You can also sprinkle baking soda in the toilet bowl, add a splash of vinegar to make it fizz, and then clean with a toilet brush.
Wood: Combine 2 parts lemon juice and 1 part olive oil. Pour a small amount on a clean rag and use to polish finished wood surfaces.
Originally published in the August 2008 issue of Parents magazine.