Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Baby Steps: Green Cleaning

Until now, most of my posts have been glorified journal entries with very little practical application. I don't feel bad about it...I just really want to make sure that when people read, they take something away...tools, kinship, education...whatever. I will still write posts that read like journal entries, because, that's who I am...a thinker and a feeler. It is, in equal parts, one of the best things about me, and one of the worst. It makes me understand things more deeply than your average citizen, but it also makes me all philosophy...not much, um...do-losophy. (That's right, Webster, I did just make up my own word...whatcha gonna say?) One of the things that's been holding up the show on giving practical information and tutorials, is the vast amount of information there is to convey...it's hard to know where to start. So, I've decided to start with a couple of areas that I have been successful practicing whole living for several years...cleaning & skin care. Today...it's all about the house, and how to clean so that you're comfortable if your child licks your countertop...like mine did, today.

The chemicals and residues that are in conventional, petroleum based, cleaning products are terrifying. With neurological disorders in children becoming as prevalent as chicken pox once was, it blows my mind what they approve of putting in products that we spray all over our surfaces, wash our dishes with, and clean our floors with. Chlorine & conventional kitchen degreasers (perchloroethylene & toluene) are volatile chemicals, neurotoxins, and human carcinogens. Why, when there are FOODS that double as awesome cleaners, not to mention wonderful products that have been on the market for generations, long before most of these chemicals were developed, and still make their products exactly the same way? For instance, Bon Ami (replaces Comet) and Murphy's Oil Soap (replaces TONS of things) do not contain chlorine, antimicrobials (largely responsible for the super-viruses that are now becoming a huge problem), phosphates, dyes, or artificial fragrances. `

Luckily, cleaning without chemicals is not only easy, but it's MUUUUCHH cheaper! When I say "much cheaper", I don't mean, you can save a few dollars a month...I'm talking, I don't remember the last time I bought a cleaning product, save dishsoap or laundry detergent. I save literally HUNDREDS of dollars on making my own, or buying bulk. Some of the ready made products I love are as follows:
  • Dishwashing liquid...(Seventh Generation...absolutely cuts grease, and is most times cheaper than leading brands. Smells awesome & available pretty much everywhere now!)
  • Toilet bowl cleaner...I could use other stuff, but I LOVE Ecover Pine so much, that I just buy that.
  • Dishwasher Soap...also Seventh Generation...usually buy it every 3 months or so. (I only run my dishwasher when it's stuffed.)
  • Laundry detergent...as you will learn, Costco rocks my world, and their brand Kirkland has a 1.5 Gallon liquid detergent for about $12.95. It has plant based, biodegradable cleaning agents (palm and/or coconut)made from bio-renewable sources, contains no phosphates or dyes, is cruelty-free, and has lavender essential oils for scent. For 110 loads...I generally buy it every 3-4 months.
  • Laundry boosters...I use plain 'ole 20 Mule Team borax; Mrs. Stewart's bluing liquid for whites (my whites are CRAZY white...much better than when I used bleach); Fels-Naptha soap bar. I just rub a toothbrush on it, brush it on stains before they set in, and that's that.
  • Orange oil. The best way to find this is going to feed stores or tractor supply stores. It can be a bit pricey...but, you will almost see another generation before you have to buy more.
  • Dr. Bronner's ANYTHING - but for cleaning, his pure castile soap, or Sal Suds are best. I mix these with water in a re-used spray bottle, and it serves as my counter cleaner, floor mopping solution...anything. Added bonus: it smells GREAT!
  • Plain old white distilled vinegar. I bought several spray bottles, a huge vat of the vinegar, and I use that for cleaning the bathroom (sinks, mirrors, faucets, & everything but the bowl of the toilet). It is the most versatile cleaning agent out there. It mix it with lemon juice, baking soda, club soda...whatever job I want it to do, but most of the time, it's just straight...I don't even dilute it.
  • There are plenty of other ideas in the book Organic Housekeeping by Ellen Sandbeck. (You can find the book on Amazon.com...just look on the right side of my blog for the widget...it's in my recommendations.)

I know lots of my "homegirls" out there like to use the handy bleach wipes for messes. Well...I have a fun solution for that, too! It's all about the Viva paper towels. They stand up well to being soaked for an extended period of time, and they really do mimic the ones you buy at the store. I get an empty bleach wipe dispenser, a roll of Viva, and my favorite cleaning agent (most of the time I use the vinegar, but also on several occasions I have used a Dr. Bronners solution & love that as well). I make sure the container is completely washed & dried out. Before you do anything else, fill the container about 1/3 the way full of your cleaning agent. Next, take the roll of Viva, and lay it on a flat surface. I basically just start unrolling, by rolling it...i.e. take the edge, and start a new roll. I always try to make it even, and I don't make it too tight, because you want to be able to get them out. Using the container, I measure when I have enough rolled off, then tear it off. Again, using the container, I figure out how long I need it to be (the roll is longer than the container, at this point), and use a serrated knife to cut it to size. The paper towels will soak up the cleaner, and voila!...cleaning wipes. *note: You may need to check them several hours after you do them, just to make sure your towel/cleaner ratio is just right. You don't want them to be too wet, but you don't want them to dry out on you either. No worries, though...you can just add more if they get dry!

I realize that was a long explanation, so PLEASE let me know if there is anyone out there who needs me to do a tutorial with pictures. I haven't done that, yet, because well, I don't have a camera that will download to my computer:) That will be changing very soon! I can break any of this down further, give tips and other detailed information if the need arises.

PLEASE consider getting rid of the chemical cleaners you may have in your home! They are simply NOT necessary to get your home clean, and they are harmful to you and your family's health!
P.S. I have been doing this successfully for over 5 years. I thought I would miss the smell of pine-sol and all the other things that made my house "smell clean" to me, before. Now, not only do I not miss it, it makes me physically ill to go into the cleaner aisle of the grocery store! Natural smells are wonderful, and if you need them...there are always essential oils. Not only will they add glorious, God-made scent, but several have disinfecting properties of their own! Besides...nothing smells better than orange oil:)

1 comment:

  1. Sorry, it has been a hectic week and I am just catching up with your blog again. I love, love, the cleaning tips. I am just a beginner in this area. Jen has taught me a lot, but I'm old, and old school,( ah, the smell of Chorox that burns your nostril hairs off) But I really WANT to change, so thanks for the name brand tips.



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