Go green when it's time to clean

Anyone who has ever cleaned a glass shower door with a store-bought cleaner promising to remove dreaded soap scum will attest to trying to do the job as quickly as possible to avoid the smell.

Breathing easier was uppermost in Teri Van Huss's mind 10 years ago when she switched to homemade cleansers for her house, using ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice. The Visalia resident did it for her son.

"I have a severely disabled son with cerebral palsy," she says. "Kids with disabilities have sensitive skin and get a lot of rashes. I wanted to make my environment neutral, so I started to study what was in the cleansers we used."

Van Huss, the director of finance and administration at the Sequoia Riverlands Trust, is the self-proclaimed "queen of environmentally friendly house cleaning." She has taught workshops on alternatives to commercial cleaners at day care centers and Head Start programs.

Even just a few years ago, she says, people had "no clue" about the advantages of green cleaning. "Today, the interest is huge," she says. "There's a lot more awareness."

Anyone with access to a computer can easily look up ingredients contained in cleansers and personal grooming products at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services household products database at

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