Green Cleaning

I’ve been converted to green cleaning for a few months now.  It is so cheap to clean green.  No more being halfway through cleaning and running out of a cleaner.  No more long lists of cleaners to buy.  No more standing in the cleaner aisle wondering what to buy.  Do I need them all?  Why so many different cleaners for the same thing?  Is it really necessary to have a different cleaner for every area of my house?  What is that ‘clean’ smell I smell after I clean?  Is it clean if it doesn’t smell?  Are they really that safe to use in my home and around children?  Why do I feel like I have to wear gloves and scrub my hands after I touch even the outside of the bottle?  Why do I have to keep them on the top shelf on my cabinet locked up?  Why does the doctor give me poision control stickers to put on my cleaners, but they are suppose to be safe for me to use in my home?  Have you ever asked yourself these questions?  If you haven’t, then it is time!!!

I just started asking myself these questions, and then I started cleaning green.  What does it mean to clean green.  Well, for starters it means ditching all or most of the conventional cleaners you have now in your cabinets.  Please don’t just throw them away, that pollutes our environment as much as you them will.  I encourage you to find someone who is still using conventional cleaners and give them to that person.  I still have a box of these cleaners in my home that I have offered to people, but you know what is happening?  People may take one of two of them, but then they say, “I don’t want any of those.”  Now, these are conventional products that most people use in their homes, so why the decline of free products?  Well, it could be in part because I am always talking about how horrible they are and how bad they are for the environment, but I think it is just people themselves being more educated on the topic.

One excuse (and I’ll call it an excuse, because that is exactly what it is) I hear all the time for continuing to use conventional cleaners is, “I don’t have the time to change everything over.”  Well, it does take a little time, but you don’t have to change everything at once.  Change one thing at a time.  For example, I just add baking soda to my laundry for the first time today.  I made a mark on a glass cup so I always have the perfect measurement and no more excuses not to just do it.  You just have to do it at your own pace.  Even changing one cleaner to a green cleaner will decrease your indoor air pollution.  By the way, indoor air is 5-10 times more polluted than the air outdoors. 

Another excuse (and again I’ll call it an excuse, but usually it is a lack of facts on the person’s part) is that it costs more to clean green.  I have to put that to rest right now.  Sure you can buy some really expensive green cleaners, but you can also buy some really expensive conventional cleaners.  You have to do a little price comparison shopping like anything else you would buy.  So, if you are changing over one cleaner at a time, just add that cleaner to your shopping list and cost compare at that time. 

I don’t use a lot of green cleaners.  What I use for most of my cleaning is baking soda and distilled white vinegar.  They are easy to keep stocked in your cabinet.  You don’t have to worry about your child(ren) getting into them.  They are gentle to most surfaces and are easy to experiment with.  They are also very cheap.  A little goes a long way.

I have been experimenting with different applications for baking soda and distilled white vinegar and here are a few that work well and I like so far.

Toilet cleaning:  Pour 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar into your toilet bowl and let it sit for at least 30 minutes.  Then, just scrub your toilet with your scrub brush.  You should do this weekly to maintain it.

Deodorizing and freshening laundry:  Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into the washing machine with the water and clothes and let it begin to agitate for a few mintues.  Shut off the machine and let the clothes soak for a few hours or overnight, then add detergent and continue to wash as normal.  This is really good for new clothes or bedding because it will get rid of the formadlehyde that is put on your clothes and bedding to keep them wrinkle free in the stores.  By the way, formadlehyde is a known caricogen (meaning it is known to cause cancer).

Wet carpet stains:  Pour baking soda on stain and allow it to sit for awhile.  Scoop up what you can, then vacuum the rest up.  Make sure it is no longer wet, otherwise you could damage your vacuum or get an electric shock.  Ouch!  I used this application when our daughter knocked over a plant.  I just threw baking soda on the wet, icky pile of dirt and water.  I let it sit overnight and then scooped up what I could and vacuumed the rest up.  I was so amazed at how clean it was!  I didn’t even have to scrub. 

Washing floors:  Mix 1/2 cup vinegar with with 1 cup water and wash your floors.  It works well.  At first it took me a little bit to get used to the smell, but now I actually like it.

Washing windows:  Wash windows with vinegar.  If you get streaks, it is because your conventional cleaner left wax on the window.  Don’t abandon this application yet, just wash the wax off with soap and water, then try the vinegar again.

Hardwater deposits:  Use an old toothbrush dipped in vinegar and gently scrub around your facuets to get the hardwater deposits off.  You can also use a wet rag dipped in vinegar and let it soak around the area and then the deposits should just wipe away.

I have bought a vegetable based cleaner to clean my kitchen counters, but I usually just use soap and water and sometimes vinegar.  The vegetable based cleaner did work wonders at degreasing the top of my refrigerator.  You know that nasty grease yuck that forms on top of the refrigerator and mixes with dust?  Well, I just sprayed the vegetable based cleaner on and let it sit for 5-10 minutes and had to apply a tiny bit of elbow grease, but overall was very easy to work with.

I have also bought non-toxic window cleaner and it leaves streaks.  I have not yet washed my windows with soap and water, but I plan to in the spring.  For now, I would rather have streaks then toxic windows.  Hey, my daughter puts her open mouth right on the glass so I’m not chancing it.  My MIL uses vinegar on her windows (and has since they built their home) and she has no streaks on her windows.

I use Seventh Generation brand liquid dish soap.  I buy it at Super Target, but I’m sure you can get it other places as well.  I recommend the ‘Free and Clear’ version of it.  It is free of perfumes and dyes.  Seventh Generation discloses all of its ingredients on its label.  This is always a sign of a good product for you and your home.  I price compared the other day and it is actually cheaper than conventional brands like Dawn, etc.

I have purchased Seventh Generation dishwasher detergent, but have yet to use it.  We are still working our way through the conventional dishwasher detergent we bought a year ago.  I cringe everytime I use it.  Just a few more loads and then we will be using Seventh Generation from here on out in our dishwasher.

I am currently using the Shaklee brand of laundry detergent.  I am loving it.  I started to use the 32 oz bottle a month or so ago and I still have 3/4 of it left.  It is so concentrated that you only have to use a little per load.  I use a capfull and that seems to get everything clean.

As for fabric softener, I ditched the dryer sheets a few months back.  I haven’t been using anything to soften our clothes and so far so good.  There are some natural things you can do to soften your clothes.  You can add 1/4 to 1/2 cup baking soda to the wash cycle to soften the fabric.

I’ll leave you with this…

*  Don’t be overwhelmed!

*  Do a little at a time!

*  Habits are hard to break, so cut yourself some slack!

*  Leave me a comment or a question and I will respond in a timely manner!

I encourage you to do some of your own research, but if you don’t have time or don’t know where to start, I’d be happy to help.  I am still learning too and am by no means an expert.  Also, please visit this site:  http://healthychild.org/blog.  I have learned so much from this site.  It is empowering!

Happy Green Cleaning!

P.S. Spell check hates me today, so here is the post with spelling errors and all.  You know I’m impatient.  🙂

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One Response to “Green Cleaning”

  1. Greener Milwaukee Says:

    Green Cleaning is very interesting, does it really use that much less in resources? It’s hard to tell, but at least you won’t burn your eyes out using vineger and tap water.

    Go Green!

    http://www.GreenerMilwaukee.blogspot.com

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