Friday, June 8, 2012

green cleaning

i don't know about you, but the thought that i need to wear rubber gloves to handle the stuff i use to keep our house clean does not sit well with me.  right now i'm not 100% without chemicals, but i'm working in that direction.

i'm lucky in that my mom has long been an advocate of chemical-free {or low chemical} cleaning, so i've been able to learn a whole lot from her...and now i want to share some of my favorite tips with you for a brighter, less toxic clean.

some of the main products you'll want to keep around for any and all cleaning are:

you will be amazed all the uses you find for 
this product...their website has some great ideas too

your average, distilled white variety will do

kosher salt
this one will surprise you (:
1 lb. box

castile soap
you can find this at target in more scents, but 
i found that trader joe's has better prices {just fewer varieties}
this can be used for cleaning
the home, as well as the people in it!
works well as a soap/ shampoo

some other products to keep on hand:
hydrogen peroxide {3%}
baking soda {buy the big box} 
various spray bottles {look for the kind with ounce markings 
on the bottle...makes for easy measuring}
bleach & ammonia {this is where i still fail at being sans-chemicals} 

so, here are some typical cleaning issues, and how to deal with them with less toxicity:

issue #1: ants
ingredients: borax, powdered sugar
directions: mix equal parts, leave in a line where you see the ants usually {perhaps against the back of a counter-top or at the bottom of your back door}...they will come for the sugar, but end up taking the borax back with them to their nest.  NOTE: this isn't toxic to animals, but it might make them sick if they eat it...don't leave where your pups/ kitties can get into it; that goes for kids too, of course ;)

issue #2: tub cleaning
ingredients: a solution of 2 parts water to 1 part hydrogen peroxide; baking soda
directions:  make your water-hydrogen peroxide solution; keep this handy in a spray bottle.  sprinkle baking soda on the tub {it helps if the tub is slightly wet}; scrub your little heart out.  make sure to rinse well when you're done scrubbing.  you will be amazed at how clean it gets. now, here's a tip i stumbled on by accident:  the hydrogen solution can be sprayed on the walls of your tub to get the grout clean, and just keep things fresh {rinse after about 1 hour} ...i sprayed this while i was scrubbing the floor of the tub and the combo of the solution and the baking soda seemed to {in my mind at least} get things even more sparkling...give it a try, let me know what you think (:

issue #3: all-purpose cleaner
i swiped the following tip from this article {also where i found the water-hydrogen peroxide solution}, and i have since tweaked it a bit
 from the article:
Heather's Helper (all-purpose cleaner)
directions: mix 2 teaspoons of vinegar, one teaspoon of borax and water into a 24-ounce spray bottle until it's nearly full, then add a quarter cup of castile soap.  {i upped the vinegar to three teaspoons and the borax to two teaspoons, otherwise, this one is great}
uses: takes on most surfaces in your house, from counters to mirrors, walls to toilet seats.

issue #4: copper cleaning

ingredients: lemons and kosher salt

directions:  cut your lemon in half, cross-wise...dip into a bowl of kosher salt, and scrub your copper pots

i cleaned one side of my copper tea kettle so you could see the difference

issue #5: floors
ingredients: vinegar, water
directions: mix a solution of 1 cup white distilled vinegar for every gallon of warm water...great for linoleum floors 

issue #6: toilets & windows
confession: i need my toilets to be clean.  you know it, i know it: there is nothing grosser than a dirty toilet.  so, yes: i do wipe down the toilet with a 10% bleach solution, then use these handy-dandy scrubbers to get the bowl nice and clean.  but i did just read that borax works well in toilets, so who knows, i might be turning over a new leaf soon ;)  as for windows, i'm looking for a new solution, but nothing beats the price of ammonia and warm water to clean that glass.  just wipe down with a dry lint-free rag after you've washed the windows and you'll be left with clear, clean windows at a much lower price than windex. 

i will make sure to add to this list when i think of more ideas...
in the meantime, let me know how these work for you!

Virginian-Pilot article tips and tricks using just a few ingredients
Queen of Clean this book has great tips on inexpensive, and environmentally friendly cleaning
Vinegar  your new best friend
Baking Soda *new*


  1. i've always wanted to be more intentional with no or low chemical cleaning, but never knew what to do. this is awesome. i might just print this out!!

  2. i love this! especially the vinegar link. i've been thinking about it a lot lately, considering i just bought a 4324 gallon jug of vinegar from COSTCO. you are answer to my prayers, little lady.

    1. mary: don't you LOVE costco?? we seriously only have to buy TP 3 times a year. cannot beat it.

  3. I use borax and vinegar in my laundry. I might have to branch out a little bit.... :)

    1. em- tell me how you use them! i have some stubborn stains i'd love to get rid of...

  4. VERY helpful... Ugh! I have a lot to learn. :)


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