I try to only buy cleaning products that disclose their ingredients. Most mainstream companies do not, which raises red flags about what exactly is in that bottle. But today, Clorox disclosed the ingredients used in its products, including preservatives and fragrances (although specifics about which fragrances are in which products was not shared). For more, visit Women’s Voices for the Earth. Let’s hope this becomes common practice for all companies!
Archive for the ‘Cleaning’ Category
I’ve been wanting to try Shaklee all-natural, non-toxic cleaning products for years. Oprah has endorsed them and I’ve seen a few videos on Youtube about their products that intrigued me. A couple months ago, I finally purchased their Basic H2 all-purpose cleaner. It’s a nice product, but nothing special. However, I did try their Scour Off Heavy Duty Paste and I love it. It removes soap scum very easily, smells like fruit, and is super mild. It makes my kitchen and bathrooms shine! I’ve used it fairly regularly but have hardly made a dent in the tub because the tiniest bit is quite effective. Highly recommended!
We do not use bleach in our house. Period. So when my white clothes, despite my best efforts, starting graying and getting a bit dingy, I didn’t know what to do. I tried a few natural products, but didn’t feel they helped. Then I discovered Earth Friendly Products’ Oxo Brite. I love this stuff! A huge tub is $12 and it’s environmentally friendly but still effective. I soaked cloth diapers and clothes in it for up to 8 hours (the directions say to go up to 6) and was amazed by how much gunk was pulled into the water. Yuck! I also love how truly fresh and clean everything (even diapers!) smelled afterwards. I’m eager to try using it regularly in the wash. Highly recommended!
We recently hired a housecleaner. This is a little tricky, as I want only specific cleaning chemicals used in my home. However, I was able to write a letter to my cleaners and leave them a box with supplies. Now they only use what’s in that box. I thought I’d share that here in case anyone wants to do something similar.
My cleaning box:
- Vinegar (to disinfect kitchen and bathrooms, and to mix with water to clean floors)
- Baking soda
- Bon Ami (my cleaning ladies love Comet and this is the bleach- and fragrance-free, environmentally friendly version)
- Ecover Cream Scrub (my cleaning ladies also love Soft Scrub, and this is a safer, healthier alternative)
- Seventh Generation Shower Cleaner
- Seventh Generation Glass Cleaner
- Seventh Generation Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner
- Earth Friendly Products Furniture Cleaner
- Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner
Our master bathroom shower is all white tile. It was a cost-effective choice when building our home, but man is it a pain to keep clean! The minerals in our water supply leave a pink residue in the shower and black mildew is very obvious on the white tile and light grout. I’m ashamed to admit that after many different attempts to really clean the shower, I broke down and bought a bottle of something with bleach. It was my first purchase of a non-green, toxic household cleaner in years. My husband used it once and for days, I could smell the chlorine bleach in our bathroom. I was determined to find a better solution.
We now use Seventh Generation’s Shower Cleaner, made with hydrogen peroxide. I spray it all over the shower, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then scrub with a heavy duty brush. It really takes care of the mildew and I’m not overwhelmed by the fumes. The key to keeping our shower clean has been to do this religiously. I can’t let a month go by without cleaning it. So far, by staying on top of cleaning (I do it every week or sometimes every other), we have been able to keep it sparkly white with minimal effort. Lucky for my husband, I can still clean the shower while pregnant now!
The EWG has a great article about cleaning supplies in schools. They have a form letter you can send to your child’s school to encourage the school to look into safer, green certified cleaning supplies. I emailed my son’s preschool to look into this more (something I already did in 2007, but feel the need to check up on again). The report lists some of the more commonly used cleaning supplies and the number of contaminents they release into the air (Comet cleaning powder releases 146–7 of which are carcinogens!) There are also some great cleaning tips.
I switched to natural laundry detergents many years ago. I’ve tried several and have found one I can highly recommend. I’ve been using it for over a year now and am really happy with it. The thing I like best is that unlike most natural detergents, it is scented (the final scent on your clothing is subtle, not overwhelming like with most traditional detergents). And unlike most detergents in general, it is scented with essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances.
The detergent is ECOS made by Earth Friendly Products. My favorite scent is Magnolia and Lily, although the Lavendar one is nice too. It’s concentrated, good for HE washers, contains a soy based fabric softner, is free of phosphates and petrochemicals, and is 100% biodegradable. And did I mention it works well? I’m particularly impressed when I use it to pre-treat stains. If I do it soon enough, it almost always gets them out. I also think the price is very reasonable. Dare I say that I actually enjoy doing laundry with a detergent that’s good for my family, clothes, and the earth?
I’d like to highlight a product I stumbled across in the grocery store a couple months ago and have completely fallen in love with. It is a sponge cloth made by Twist. It’s a 7×8″ white cloth that’s about 1/4 of an inch thick. It’s supposed to function like a paper towel in the kitchen, or perhaps for other cleaning jobs in the house. It’s part sponge, part cloth. I use it to wipe down countertops, clean appliances, wipe messy baby hands, dry spills, etc. The best part is that unlike other cloths I’ve used in my kitchen that need to be laundered, I just toss the Twist sponge cloth into the dishwasher whenever I run it and that cleans and disinfects the cloth. The cloth can also be sterilized by boiling it in water. I bought a 3-pack for $3.25 and one cloth has lasted me almost 2 months. Twist claims the cloth can be used over 1000 times, or outlast 17 rolls of paper towels. And when you finally decide to toss it out, it’s biodegradable. That’s a lot of money and waste saved! I just purchased their regular sponge and can’t wait to try it out as well. I have to say I love the product and I also love supporting an environmentally and socially responsible company.
It’s not very often that I rave about a product, but I have to mention this one. We stopped using traditional carpet stain removers several months ago and our carpet started showing it. I had been looking for a natural cleaner but was having trouble finding one. But I’ve recently tried BioKleen’s Bac-Out and am really impressed. Enzymes and lime peel extract help this non-toxic, biodegradable formula clean. It can also be used for many other cleaning purposes including laundry stains and cleaning bathrooms. I love that I can clean my carpet and then let my kids play on it without worrying.
I have discussed the hazards of traditional window cleaners before, particularly their use of the ingredient ammonia. So what alternatives do you have? I propose trying a solution of one part distilled white vinegar with five parts water. It cleans windows surprisingly well and since the vinegar is so diluted, the smell is not overwhelming. Any vinegar that does smell slightly quickly evaporates leaving your windows and glass odorless. (If you have been using traditional window cleaners for a while, you may have a film build up that will take several cleanings to remove. But then this solution should work well.) The best part? It’s the safest way for you to clean your windows and it only costs pennies per bottle. Give it a try next time you run out of window cleaner!