Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Green Cleaning

It really came down to the fog. The first bath after my husband scrubs the tub, I always notice a cloudiness to the water. It's the remains of the cleaner. Combine that with the fact that I CANNOT get Linus to stop drinking bath water, and you'll understand why I needed to find an alternative. It's not that I don't prefer a greener, more environmentally friendly lifestyle. I do. We cloth diaper, shop with cloth bags, reuse jars for food storage, cancel junk mail and magazine subscriptions, drink tap water, purchase milk in returnable glass bottles, and recycle. And that's only some of it. It's just making my own cleaning products seemed complicated and yet another thing I had to do so I stuck with my semi-green cleaning.

I've given up bleach and used Method and Mrs. Meyer's products for quite a while but they really aren't that much better. Now, I'm trying to step it up even more and make a real switch. I'm, er... really my husband is scrubbing my tub with baking soda and Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap (the peppermint scent is perfect this time of year). I'm using Charlie's Soap* for all the laundry not just diapers. (I LOVE it and it lasts FOREVER.) I'm using a surface spray made from the following recipe I found over at Young House Love... although I'm a bit worried about the toxicity of Borax. (Advice?)

Surface Spray:
  • 16 oz spray bottle
  • 2 tsp. borax
  • ¼ tsp. liquid castile soap (like Dr. Bronner’s)
  • hot water

I'm also hoping to find a glass cleaner recipe that works. Vinegar? Lemon juice? And if anyone knows of a dishwasher detergent that is more green but actually works, I'd love to know. I've had rotten luck with Seventh Generation and switched back to Cascade after numerous still dirty loads. The best part about all this green cleaning is how much cheaper it seems to be. Baking soda purchased in bulk is cheap as is vinegar. The Dr. Bronner's seemed expensive at $8 per bottle but when it takes a quarter teaspoon to make a batch of surface cleaner, I think it will last.

It's not a complete switch yet but it's a start.


Now that I'm exploring all these natural cleaners, I'm curious what your favorite green products are for cleaning or otherwise? Do you dig on Burt's Bees*? Do you have a favorite Seventh Generation, Method, or Mrs. Meyer's product? Do you have a favorite green recipe? Spill it all so I can make the change with less trial and error and more success.

*Triple word score for me since these companies are local. Woot!


nikki said...

Thanks, Abby, I've wanted to switch to homemade cleaning products, too, but have been too lazy (of course!) to find good "recipes." I will be watching this thread closely!

Andrea said...

I was using Charlies for everything too (we use cloth also) but our clothes and towels started smelling bad. REALLY bad. So I switched back to regular detergent for everything but cloth, which I don't love but washing everything 3 times as often is just as bad right? I am thinking of trying another detergent like Allens or something but I dunno...I don't have any recipes for cleaner other than what you have but I haven't really made the leap myself. Ok that's enough!

@sweetbabboo said...

Yikes, Andrea. I haven't experienced that yet but haven't used it for everything for very long. I'll have to update if it starts happening to me. You're right though, washing three times is likely more wasteful.

If you find a laundry product that works, let me know please. I've heard good things about BioKleen and Country Save.


corrie said...

I LOVED Country Save--for diapers and other laundry, but I can't find it locally anymore. Boo. I switched to BioKleen, and it has been okay. I just miss my Country Save!

We use a lot of Method products, but I hear they are not really completely environmentally-friendly. My foray into making my own cleaning products included a Borax surface cleaning solution, but it was leaving a residue, so I went back to Method. I really should try some other recipes, I guess.

Andrea said...

OH I had a sample of Country Save and I loved it too! If only someone would sell it locally. Maybe if we banded together we could lobby for it!

Miche said...

Do you find Dr. Bronner's soap at the grocery store? That sounds really good to try, esp with peppermint smells instead of chemicals!

Also, I didn't realize you cloth diapered too! I haven't made the switch to cloth wipes yet-do you use those? And if so, how do you do it out and about?

Also, It is supposed to rain again more this week, so if you guys are bored drop me an email and we can meet up at Marbles again-I want to play with the potato head guys again! :)

Kelly Jernigan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly Jernigan said...

We use Mrs. Meyer's Hand Soap, as well as the Surface Spray - I love all the scents! We also use Dr. Bronner's for bathing the little guy - either Baby (unscented) or Almond - I have heard Peppermint or Lavender could sting the eyes.

I am interested in the laundry detergent options though - always looking for a cheaper & greener way to get that done as I feel like I am CONSTANTLY doing laundry around here! We use the "environmentally friendly" detergent from Costco right now, and it seems to do a pretty good job. http://www.costcoconnection.com/connection/200808/?pg=46#pg46

Great post - I look forward to seeing what everyone else says!

Leslie, The Cleaning Coach said...

I have a great idea for a window cleaner- just use a microfiber cloth. I have a blue one (so it reminds me to use it in place of my blue window cleaner) and I don't spray anything. My windows are sparkling clean with no streaks. And no paper towels. How green is that!

Chelsea + Jonathan said...

I like Mrs. Meyer's hand soap and grew up using Dr. B's for everything... we also brushed our teeth with straight baking soda and water for a while. Aaah those were the days. Still using Burt's for most personal hygeine stuff but I do feel guilty that they're owned by Clorox. I like this DIY approach and should really try it!

@sweetbabboo said...

Nikki, The link I made to Young House Love contains some other recipes to try. I've only gotten around to the surface spray but they have many others given. I'm def gonna try some. If you try any, let me know how it goes.

Corrie and Andrea, I remember trying a sample of Country Save and loving it too. It may be a good alternative if Charlie's doesn't work out.

Miche, I found Dr. Bronner's in the make-up/personal hygiene section at Target. It was on the same aisle as the Burt's Bees stuff but down low I think.

Kelly, I can't believe you never clued me in on Dr. B's. I've been so ignorant. Do you dilute it with anything or just use it straight for Wyatt's bath? Oh and thanks for the tip on the peppermint regarding using as bath soap. That makes sense.

Leslie, Thanks for the tip. I didn't know that would work without any liquid. I have several microfiber clothes so I'll definitely try it out. Please share more of your wonderful tips.

Chelsea, You're Momma is awesome. She was totally green and fabulous before it was the "new hip" thing to do. Her awesomeness must be what made you so great. I didn't know that about Burt's Bees but I don't know that I'll stop buying my Milk and Shea Butter soap and tinted lip glosses. I love them too much.

This is such a great discussion everyone. Let's keep it going b/c I need more great green tips. ;)


Kelly Jernigan said...

Dr. Bronner's giant bottles are about $13 & we use like a TBSP at each bath, so it lasts forever. It has so much suds to it, it really stretches when you squirt just a little in your hand. We use it on hair & body!

You can also buy the Peppermint kind at Trader Joe's in their brand for a lot cheaper.

Amy said...

We use Dr B's peppermint as soap/shampoo for the adults in our household. Haven't tried it for other cleaning purposes yet, but will let you know how that goes once I do!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

A topic near and dear to my heart;) I use Ecover as an all purpose cleaner, which I alternate with vinegar & water. I use Bon Ami on tubs & sinks and have never noticed a film afterwards or any residue. For glass, vinegar & hot water. Seventh generation detergents & Mrs. Meyer dish soap. This is naughty, but I use bleach in toilet bowls.

Have you tried Kiss My Face lotions? Luff it.

corrie said...

Oh, is Kiss My Face green? I'd be willing to try that out! Sounds like I'm going to need to get some Dr. Bronner's, too. As for laundry, I forgot to mention that we have been liking the Kirkland (Costco brand) environmentally friendly detergent, and they have a Free & Clear version that I might try with diapers. (Since my beloved Country Save is not locally available. It is available online, of course, but does the shipping/transport offset the green factor?)