Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Natural cleaning products: Keep the earth squeaky clean, too!

I would say that I have a mild obsession with keeping my house clean. This obviously means I use a lot of commercial cleaning products. I currently use Method products exclusively. These environmentally-conscious products feature biodegradable materials, and derive all fragrances from essential oils. I am absolutely in love with the lavender dish soap, and the almond oil "Good for Wood" floor cleaner. The company refers to itself as "People Against Dirty" but by that they "don't only mean the stuff dust bunnies are made of" they also strive to keep the earth clean as well. Their objective was also to create a product that people wouldn't feel had to be relegated to "under the sink"...and indeed the MOMA-worthy packaging makes these products not only functional, but also attractive...Honestly? Advertising was invented for people like me.

See what I mean? Lovely...

Although I adore my Method cleaning products, I often found myself wondering what products people used to clean before the advent of commercial cleaners. When I began researching recipes for cleaning products that use only the following natural household items:

- water
- vinegar
- baking soda
- borax
- lemon juice
- essential oils
- castile soap
- washing soda

All Purpose Cleaner
- 2 cups warm water
- 2 tsp borax
- 1 tsp castile soap (or liquid dish soap like Ivory)
- 3-4 drops of the essential oil of your choice (I recommend tea tree oil for it's disinfectant properties)
Spray on surface, leave for one minute, wipe with a damp cloth.

Glass Cleaner
-Pure white vinegar
Spray on glass surface, wipe off with a piece of newspaper for a streak-free shine.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner
-One or two teaspoons of castile soap
-1/4 cup borax
Swish around in bowl with a toilet brush and let sit for 30 minutes before flushing.

Abrasive Cleaner
-Two or three tablespoons of baking soda
-Enough lemon juice to make a thick paste
Spread paste over area to be cleaned. Let sit for two or three minutes then scour in a circular motion with an abrasive pad.

Laundry Detergent
- 1 cup Ivory soap flakes
- 1/2 cup washing soda
- 1/2 cup borax
Use one tablespoon for lightly soiled loads and two tablespoons for heavily soiled loads.

Now that we're on the topic of laundry, let's talk dryer balls. Some of you may have seen "eco-friendly" balls like these made by Nellie's Natural

Love to them in general, aside from this one faux pas...

These balls are definitely more eco-friendly than using a sheet or two of Bounce in every dryer load (they are better for you dryer to boot) but some a manufactured using Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), which is one of the most toxic plastics available. There are PVC-free varieties available here, but they are still going to spend a bazillion years in a landfill...which is where these little wool babies come in:

Make your own using this tutorial from "Goodmama" or search "wool dryer balls" on Etsy to find one of the many sellers making them. These balls are non-toxic, all-natural and biodegradable. Win-win-win!

Recipes used were adapted from Martha Stewart and Young House Love

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