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Clean Up After Every Shower
Pull the shower curtain closed when not in use, so water can't sit in the folds. Spread towels over two hooks to dry, or hang them on rods instead. Wipe shower walls with a squeegee after every use.
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Natural Way to Scrub Your Tub
This is a nontoxic but effective way to clean your tub: Add one teaspoon of liquid soap and several drops of an antibacterial essential oil (such as tea tree, eucalyptus, rosemary, or peppermint) to one cup of baking soda. Add just enough water to form a paste, and use it with a sponge or brush to scour bathtub surfaces.
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How to Unclog Showerheads
If a showerhead becomes clogged with mineral deposits, fill a plastic bag with undiluted white vinegar and place the bag over the head so it is submerged; secure and seal the bag with a rubber band. Soak overnight and then scrub the face with a toothbrush.
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Marble is a beautiful surface for counters and tabletops. But because it is quite soft and porous, marble can easily be stained, scratched, and chipped. Because of this, regular cleanings should be as gentle as possible.
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Opt for Efficient Flushes
Already prevalent in many foreign countries, a dual-flush toilet drastically cuts down on water use. Whereas conventional models consume 3.5 to 7 gallons of water per flush, these more efficient versions use either 0.8 to 0.9 gallons (plenty for fluids) or 1.25 to 1.6 gallons (for solid waste).
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The best way to fight mildew is to prevent it. And the most effective method of prevention is to deny mildew what it craves: moisture. Start by turning on the exhaust fan.
Photography: Yunhee Kim7 of 14
Choose Eco-Friendly Towels
Typical towels use conventional cotton, a crop that accounts for about 25 percent of the world's insecticide use, including some of the planet's most hazardous chemicals. What's more, manufacturers often use dyes derived from petroleum in a high-polluting process that leaves chemicals gushing into waterways, ravaging aquatic habitats, and clinging to the towels you bury your face in. Look for eco-friendly organic cotton and bamboo towels made with plant-based or low-impact dyes.
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Rather than wait for a (costly) plumber, fix water-wasting plumbing problems yourself. Here is everything you need to know about basic bathroom fix-it jobs.
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Prevent Bathtub Rings
Bathtub rings are usually the result of using oily bath products. Clean with warm water and a mildly abrasive cleanser after using such products.
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Most shower curtains are made from polyvinyl-chloride, or PVC, a plastic that can release hormone-disrupting phthalates into the air. Look for non-vinyl curtains instead.
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Use Recycled Toilet Paper
If every family in the United States replaced one roll of conventional toilet paper with a roll of 100-percent-recycled material, we'd save 423,900 trees in a year.
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How to Make Homemade Air Freshener
Combine 30 to 40 drops total of up to three different oils (we like a lemon-lavender combination) with 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. Shake well to mix the oils and spritz as needed.
Photography: Keller and Keller13 of 14
Turn Off the Faucet
Running the bathroom tap for just two minutes while brushing your teeth wastes more than two gallons of water. If your family does that morning and night (and longer when shaving), wasted water adds up. Keep a reminder near the sink until you're all in the habit of turning the water off.
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You may think the eco-friendliest way to clean a shower is with a basic liquid castile soap. But if you have hard water, you could cause a chemical reaction that leads to a difficult-to-remove dull film. (To check for hard water, pick up a simple test at your local hardware store.) Detergents, on the other hand, avoid this soap scum by their very formulation. Rather than go with conventional ones that contain nonrenewable petroleum-based surfactants and air-polluting synthetic perfumes, look for a plant-based all-purpose detergent such as Ecover's All Purpose Cleaner.