Clean Green

February 5, 2007

I do not buy commercial cleaners. I do not have bathtub cleaners, floor cleaners, cabinet cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, grout cleaners or drain cleaners.  I do not use disposable mop pads or swifter dusters or disposable furniture, bleach, or cleaning wipes.   I have found there is a better way to be clean while remaining economically and more importantly, ecologically sound.

My cleaning supplies consist of :

  1. Baking soda
  2. White vinegar
  3. Hot Water
  4. Murphy’s Oil Soap
  5. Bissell Steam Mop
  6. Old towels cut into small squares

Below I will list the top green options for a cleaner, less toxic home:

Get your toilet bowl clean in a snap with a dash of baking soda followed by a cup of vinegar poured directly into the toilet.  The reaction between the alkaline baking soda and the acidic vinegar releases carbon dioxide causing it to sizzle and bubble.  Simply wipe the toilet with a wet soapy rag and flush.  This is not only green and clean but it can be fun!  If you play your cards right and show your kids the neat “reaction” your kids will be cleaning all over your house!  

Ditch the disposable wipes. I save old towels that are ugly, have holes and are fraying on the ends.  If someone is getting rid of old towels, I grab them!  I simply cut those towels into smaller squares.  If the dog or cat urps, I can always throw it away!  But more often than not, the used cleaning towel simply goes into the washing machine when I am finished cleaning.  These little towels clean everything from windows to bathtubs to toilets.  They wipe down my sink (not the same one that wipes my toilet), my cabinets and apply my dusting/polish.  On an average cleaning day, I use about 4 of these little towels.  They wait in my washing machine for the next full load.   Green & Clean!

Cabinets in both kitchen and bathrooms can be cleaned well with simple hot, soapy water.  If soap works on your hands, it can work on your cabinets too!  Even though you should take extra precaution when working with raw meat, hot water and soap will work wonders at killing those bad germs and keeping your home clean and green.

That grungy bathtub a problem?  Sprinkle baking soda in the bathtub and use a wet, soapy rag to scrub away grunge and grime.  Baking soda is an excellent mild abrasive that will remove any grime you can throw in its path without scratching delicate porcelain surfaces. 

Windows and mirrors do not need commercial cleaners to sparkle.  Skip the amonia or alcohol based cleaners and apply a little white vinegar to a damp cloth and clean away.  Follow behind with a dry cloth and buff out any streaks.  

Floors don’t need cleaners, sprays or chemicals.  Several companies make an earth friendly steam mop for hard floors.  This is an excellent alternative to those environmentally damaging, completely disposable, poorly made Swifter type mops.  

I have a Bissell but Bissell no longer makes this item.  Shame on them for moving to a Flip -It product that is less powerful and uses chemicals.  However, I did find several alternatives including the following:

Reliable SteamBoy RELT1 1500W for $89.00

Euro-Pro EP950 Upright Steam Cleaner. 

I love my steam mop!  I simply fill the reservoir with plain water and let the hot steam kill germs and clean just about anything stuck to the floors.  I used mine to clean up spilled, dried candlewax.  I simply placed the mop over the wax and pushed the steam button.  I waited approximately a minute, then wiped – no more wax!  When you are finished, you remove the reusable mop pad and toss in the washing machine with your cleaning rags to wait for the next load of laundry.  In a pinch, this can also be used to steam wrinkled clothing or fabrics, simply fill, plug in and forgo the mop pad.

The initial cost is high but on the whole, this product is very economical if you consider the cost of buying a Swifter mop plus replacement pads and fluid, ot to mention a replacement mop every year or so.  I wouldn’t even consider using a regular mop again.   I have used my mop for well over 3 years without any further replacement costs.  Simple math tells me it was a great investment in both our health and our pocket book!

Instead of using chemicals to remove food stuck on the stove, try baking soda and elbow grease.  If something is really stuck on, apply several applications of baking soda and vinegar and let the reaction loosen the gunk. White vinegar is great for removing grease build up.  Baking soda does leave a film but all surfaces can then be wiped with a damp rag to remove any film. 

I use a cup of water and a slice of  lemon to clean the microwave.  By microwaving the cup of water for 30 seconds, I fill the microwave with a nice smelling steam that allows me to easily wipe off dried on food. 

Dusting?  Not a problem.  Dampen a washcloth or rag and wipe the dust away.  When my furniture needs polishing, I use a cloth dipped in water diluted Murphy’s oil soap.   This removes the dust and polishes the furniture in one wipe.

A clogged drain is no match for the baking soda/vinager treatment.  For slow drains, pour soda down the drain and following with vinegar.  The reaction dissolves food and grime, opening the drain.  It may not work as quickly as a chemical based drain cleaner but it does work and it is environmentally responsible considering what goes down your drain ends up in our water supply. 

My one exception is that I do keep a small bottle of chlorine bleach (even though it is a toxic chemical) to occasionally spray the grout in the bathroom as I have not yet found a way to get rid of mold on grout.   But that is only as I am finishing up and leave the area for a more ventilated area.  I only do this once a month or sometimes wait even longer.   Chemicals have their place and if used sparingly, in a well ventilated area, with minimal applications, will not cause everlasting harm to the environment. 

In 4 years my family has not fallen ill from germs, suffered food borne illnesses or rare bacterial diseases.  We function just like any other family only without the toxic chemicals and the expensive cleaners.   I feel much safer knowing there are fewer toxins in my home and under my cabinets for my son to either be exposed to or accidentally ingest.   And my wallet thanks me!   I may not be saving a fortune but every little bit helps.

These websites have more information on how to clean green.

Asthma Resources and Green Cleaning

Arm & Hammer Uses for Baking Soda


3 Responses to “Clean Green”

  1. Annette Says:

    This is such a wonderful blog, Sheri. I love living and learning about simplicity.
    I look forward to checking in here regularly!

  2. Scott Says:

    Loved the information. I recently have also gone green and eliminated all chemicals from my life as well. After doing some research, I’ve found that the items we put on our skin can be just as toxic if not more toxic than the food we digest. Thank you for the great tips! I’ll be sharing them with my class as well…

  3. sue Says:

    I LOVE this post! Just what I needed, especially on a Monday, when I’m barely inspired to USE the shower, let alone clean it 🙂 Getting ready to add a link on my blog to yours…

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