The time is coming… for Spring Cleaning! Does anyone get a little bit excited about that like I do? When spring comes, I think we can’t help but to bust open the windows, air out our living quarters, turn our smiling faces to the sunshine, walk barefoot, and clean our houses. After that… cleaning doesn’t always sound so fun to me – lol. However, it must be done. On a regular basis. As a result, it’s imperative that we use non-toxic, green cleaning products so that our earth is happier and our health isn’t adversely affected. So, I have some non-toxic, safe for family and environment tips and ideas to share with you. Some of these are ready-to-use products that you can buy in health food and specialty stores, and some of these you can easily make at home (which usually saves money!).
Here are some of the things I’m doing to keep my home clean:
Dr. Bronners - For a long time now, I’ve used 1-2 caps of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap for our family’s laundry. I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing this for my future baby’s clothes (the unscented version) when the time comes as well. It’s important to stay away from normal commercial clothes soap when washing your baby’s clothes because their skin is so delicate. There are some natural brands on the market just for baby’s, such as Seventh Generation (I think), and I might try those, too. I can’t imagine it getting any simpler than Dr. Bronner’s unscented soap though. Note: for extra brightening power, you can add 3 oz of chlorine free bleach by Seventh Generation as the water fills up (before adding your clothes) – you may want to test laundry soaps before using on a whole load to make sure they don’t alter colors or materials.
Soap Nuts (option: liquid or actual nut-things) – I have not tried these options to give a review of them but I plan on doing so soon. When I do, I’ll update this post to reflect that. Basically, soap nuts are made from the fruit of the soapberry tree and supposed to be a great, natural way to clean clothes. According to the bottle, this soap is vegan, pure, hypoallergenic, low sudsing and good for sensitive skin. I’m looking forward to trying these two items.
ALL-PURPOSE CLEANING These recipes can be used for counters, bathrooms, tile floors, walls, etc. However, test an inconspicuous area first.
- Recipe #1: Get a 32 oz spray bottle and put in the following: 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar, a small squirt of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap, 1/2 cup chlorine free bleach by Seventh Generation (or there’s another brand… Ecover, I think), and fill the rest with water. Optional: add 10-20 drops of tea tree oil (and/or 10-20 drops lavender oil).
- Recipe #2: 1/2 cup of Borax and stir it into a gallon of hot water. This can be used for general cleaning.
- Recipe #3: Get a 32 oz spray bottle and put in 1 cup distilled white vinegar, a small squirt of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap, and fill the rest with water.
- Recipe #4 - Some people call this a heavy duty cleaner recipe. Get a bucket of hot water and add a squirt of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap, 1/2 cup baking soda, 10-15 drops tea tree oil and optionally, you can add 5-10 drops lavender oil. Note: It can be important to avoid essential oils when you’re pregnant, so wear gloves when using this solution, if you’re pregnant, or leave out the oils all together – or, better yet, get someone else to do the cleaning! haha
Scrubbing – Baking soda does a great job (it’s also a great deodorizer). Or, another good one is Bon Ami Polishing Cleanser.
No Bleach – Instead, mix 1 teaspoon of Borax powder with 1 quart of water and 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar. Or, use Seventh Generation (or Ecover) non-chlorine bleach.
Distilled White Vinegar - You can use this lovely liquid in various ways, as noted throughout this post.
- Another way it can help is with hard water stains on dishes that come out of the dishwasher. While I haven’t tried this myself, I’ve read that you can put of splash of vinegar in the bottom of your dishwasher before starting the cycle. UPDATE: I have tried it and holy cow! It works wonders!!!!!!
- Vinegar can also be used as a produce wash. Just get a spray bottle and fill it with 3 parts water, 1 part vinegar. Spray on produce, rub/scrub, and rinse.
FOOD GRADE HYDROGEN PEROXIDE Warning: Do not use this full strength. In most cases, it’s used in a 3% solution that is made from 1 part food grade hydrogen peroxide and 11 parts water. In its undiluted strength it is a strong oxidant and highly corrosive.
- This is one of my favorite ways to clean. It can be used on its own to help disinfect areas like the kitchen, bathroom, tile floors, etc. I also use this as a veggie wash. Check out this website for more information, tips, and uses.
- Mirrors Power - Get a 32 oz spray bottle and fill it halfway with water and top off the second half with distilled white vinegar. How easy, safe and great is that? Some people use newspaper instead of paper towel, but I don’t get the newspaper. So, in order to not use paper towel wastefully, I use rags for this.
- Toilet Cleaning Power – Baking soda and distilled white vinegar. Scrub away the germs and enjoy a shiny toilet bowl. Or, you can just go the vinegar route and pour in 1-3 cups of distilled white vinegar, let it set overnight if you can, and scrub the following morning. Or, there are some good eco-friendly cleaner companies that make toilet cleaners.
- Shower Power - There is one product that I love for cleaning the grime and junk from my shower. It’s Ecover’s Ecological Limescale Remover. This is a magical product to me in how efficiently it cleans my shower door! Then, to upkeep my shower, I use the mirror recipe above in the spray bottle (simple vinegar and water)
- Unclog Drains – Sprinkle about a 1/2 cup of baking soda down into your shower drain. Follow that with about a 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar. Cover it if you can, and allow it to sit for about 3-4 minutes. Run hot water into the drain to flush it completely. Note: I’ve read that this should not be done following any commercial drain opening solution.
Dishes – I love washing dishes by hand because it’s relaxing to me. And, with raw food, washing dishes is a snap! However, I’ve read that it’s more environmental to use a dishwasher. For this, there are various companies at the health food store for dishwasher soap that I’ve tried and liked. I can’t think of any in particular that didn’t do a good job. If you have hard water stains, you might try the trick noted above under Distilled White Vinegar to help with that.
Ant Deterrent – Put peppermint scented Dr. Bronner’s soap in a spray bottle with some water and spray along windowsills and cracks.
Update: here is a link to another online article with some suggestions.
- Of course, re-use towels for wiping (paper towels are wasteful) or tear up some old t-shirts.
- Another option: there is a company called SKOY that offers an earth-friendly cloth that can be used in place of paper towels and sponges. It’s 100% Biodegradable and Natural. They claim that one SKOY cloth saves 15 rolls of paper towels. Now, they’re made in Germany, so I think that should be taken into account as to how “green” they actually are, but it’s not a calculation I’ve figured out.
What are some of your favorite eco-friendly cleaners?