Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to extend last week’s “greening up” to your cleaning cabinet. If you feel green clean already, head back to the natural personal products list from last week and see what else you can change there.
Level of Commitment: Baby Steps to Making Strides
I’ve added a number of resources and links to last week’s Monday Mission on natural personal products, including another shampoo option and 3 new ideas for hand soaps. Did you see the ‘no poo shampoo post from last week?
You’ll remember that last week I told you how I could make one change at a time, baby step style, and before I knew it I was rightfully being accused of being “crunchy” from head to toe and ceiling to floor.
This week is the “ceiling to floor” part, and I challenge you to choose one new area of your house to clean with non-toxic supplies. Wait until what you have runs out if you like, or freecycle your old chemical stuff and make the switch now. Just choose one at a time:
2011 update: list of my TOP green cleaners, the priorities! There’s also a new eBook out to teach you how to clean everything using some of these simple ingredients to make your own homemade cleaners: Clean Start by Michelle of Open Eye Health.
Ceiling to Floor (Natural Green Cleaners)
- Vinegar and water in a spray bottle (or in a bucket for outside windows) always does the trick.
- Use old newspapers to wipe clean.
- My favorite method is just plain water and a microfiber cloth – no product needed, and a perfect shine, every time.
- Norwex has some pretty fancy mirror cloths
- Most green cleaning companies offer a glass cleaner, but this is one place I would never buy commercial. It’s too easy to DIY (do it yourself)!
Note: A year later, I updated the ideas in this post with new products/experiences from another year of experience. See the additions and thoughts HERE.
- Spray with straight vinegar as an after-shower spray that you just leave on. The smell dissipates as soon as it’s dry. Some people add a few drops of essential oils for a nicer scent. (You can buy them from Mountain Rose Herbs.) Especially effective for hard water stains, like on the shower curtain. *Do not use on tile and grout as it may eat away the grout.
- Scrub with baking soda when you get scum that needs some extra elbow grease.
- Commercial green cleaners are a nice option to have on hand here – I’ve used Charlie’s soap All-Purpose Spray and Seventh Generation bathroom disinfectant. UPDATE: I am NO longer in favor of Charlie’s Soap – see the update here.
- Straight vinegar in a spray bottle does a fine job cleaning the bowl (double duty for one bottle if you use it in your shower).
- Baking soda and lemon juice make a paste for nasty stains.
- I like the 50/50 hydrogen peroxide solution to clean the outside.
- I collect the family’s holey socks and use them to wipe the outside of the toilet. Then I can throw them away and not waste paper towel, but not have to juggle the “which towel color cleans the toilets and never the kitchen???” issue.
- For a quick clean in the bathroom, I wipe down with a microfiber cloth only.
- When I want to disinfect and really clean, I like a 50/50 solution of hydrogen peroxide and water, followed by a good shine with my microfiber.
- To scrub nasty stains (like Comet): use straight baking soda, sometimes with a bit of water. I keep some in an old Parmesan cheese container under the sink. You can also try oxygen bleach, sold by Biokleen and many other brands. You can likely find some in your basic big box store nowadays, or from Azure Standard.
- Try an old toothbrush to really get stains out of grout and around sinks and faucets!
- To sanitize after raw meat or the like in the kitchen, you’ll need two bottles: one with vinegar and one with hydrogen peroxide. Spray separately, one after the other. (More details in my triple threat natural cleaners post.) You don’t need bleach!
- Essential oils offer other options for sanitizing. A few drop GSE (grapefruit seed extract – right? I always forget just how to say that!) or tea tree oil in a bottle of water acts as a disinfectant. I actually like the smell of tea tree oil, but not everyone does. Find essential oils and support on how to use them at Mountain Rose Herbs.
- UPDATE 2013: There are natural disinfectants approved by the EPA that are botanical and truly natural. I’m impressed!
- You’ll find all-purpose counter cleaners from most commercial green companies, too.
- Baking soda or salt make the perfect scrub for the stovetop. You’ll be amazed at all it gets out. More details at how to clean a stovetop, naturally.
- If you have a spill inside the oven, the best line of defense is to sprinkle salt on while it’s still hot, then tackle it as soon as you can touch it while it’s still warm.
- Sometimes I need a natural orange-based cleaners as a degreaser, although I bet diluted castile soap would also do the trick. Here’s an awesome and super frugal way to make DIY orange power cleaner.
Dishes – Hand wash
- Every natural and pseudo-natural cleaning company has a dishsoap that pledges to be better than the average. Here’s how I rate the effectiveness of the ones I’ve tried (links go to the review):
- A baby step is to make sure your dishsoap doesn’t have bleach or triclosan in it.
- Surviving impossible dishes – two free tools: everyone needs ideas to get to those hard-to-reach places…
Dishes – Dishwasher
- This is one subject I’ve exhausted, and I have my favorite, hands down. I tried many, many homemade recipes, and unless you love pre-washing your dishes, I wouldn’t recommend ANY of them.
- Read more about my failed homemade dishwasher detergents, then success with Mrs. Meyer’s, another failure (and a husband about to throw me and my experiments out of the house!), and finally, my favorite natural dishwasher detergent — at the time. Biokleen, the winner, has since been trounced mightily.
- I’ve also tried Seventh Generation’s products, and the powder was almost as good as Biokleen, while the liquid sits untouched after two weeks of hubby-grumbling about rejected dishes (still dirty after the cycle). The pacs are decent, but still only about a “C+” on the scale.
- UPDATE 2011: I went back and forth on Biokleen after it stopped working for me in spring 2011. Readers convinced me my dishwasher just had terrible buildup. See ideas to clean that out and revitalize your detergent HERE.
- UPDATE 2012: New house, new dishwasher – Biokleen still stunk it up for us. I tried a number of other brands and reviewed my favorites HERE. The top contenders include Tropical Traditions house brand which has really stood the test of time, and Ecover’s tablets.
- UPDATE 2013: I listed all the homemade dishwasher detergent recipes readers have sent me over the years…
- Instead of Jet Dry, use straight vinegar in your machine’s rinse agent dispenser. Works wonders!
- Some baby steps for going green include eco-conscious pre-rinsing and running machines only when full. See more here.
- When your dishwasher gets gunky, get back with this natural dishwasher cleaning method.
- Charlie’s Soap works for a lot of people, many of whom love it for cloth diapers, but it was only acceptable for me. Here’s my review. (But Booooooo to them for their yucky ingredient in the all-purpose spray – who can trust the laundry soap? Not me!!!)
- I’ve also tried Seventh Generation, Mejier brand, and maybe a few other liquid versions, all just fine.
- My favorite that I’m sticking with, however, is NaturOli soap nuts. They grow on trees, and I don’t think you can get more natural than that! Here’s my soap nuts review for more info. (I got some Maggie’s brand on accident, and they have two problems: they stick together and can stain clothes if they sit wet against them. I also tried Laundry Tree and just didn’t think they cleaned as well, hands down. NaturOli is better!)
- How to tell if soap nuts still have cleaning power…
- To pretreat: I use Biokleen Bac-Out mixed 1/3 strength with water in a spray bottle. It gets most stains out before the clothes even hit the washer (scrub them well). Trouble is caused by tomatoes, mud, and mustard.
- To soak: any brand oxygen bleach in hot water (don’t let bold colors touch whites!). Pour the soak water right into the washing machine for a boost after soaking.
- I like dryer balls or wool dryer balls instead of fabric softener or dryer sheets.
- Stinky towels? Add vinegar to the rinse cycle of your washing machine.
- 2011 UPDATE: Selestial Soap is another natural option with no SLS.
- The simplest option is just a microfiber cloth, sometimes with one corner dampened, then polish with the dry part.
- You can use a touch of olive oil for polishing, mixed with lemon juice if you love that Pledge smell!
- Vinegar and water (no more than 1/4 cup to a 32 oz. spray bottle) is my weapon of choice, with an old towel for wiping.
- Your mop bucket is another place for warm water and a glug of vinegar.
- No vinegar if you have hardwood floors – vinegar can strip the finish and water really isn’t the best idea either. Just use a microfiber cloth on a Swiffer for simple green cleaning!
Don’t forget last week’s greening up posts on:
- Natural body products
- 4 natural ways to help a sick kid feel better
- How to clean your hair with no shampoo
- Top 10 Green Gift Guide
Disclosure: I am an affiliate of drugstore.com, Amazon, Mountain Rose Herbs and NaturOli as well as Clean Start eBook, so I will get a kickback if you order there. However, I’m so pleased that they have my favorite stuff on sale, it’s good for everyone if you shop there – but only if you can’t find the same price locally! Advertisers this month include Berkey and Provident Essentials. See my full disclosure statement here.