Let's say, just for conversation's sake, that you were to take a spoonful of grape jelly and smear it all over your kitchen counter tops with a paper towel or an old rag. Just wipe that whole counter down really well until the grape jelly is in every nook and cranny and has dried to the touch. Would you consider that counter top to be clean?
That's pretty much what you're doing every time you smear chemical cleaners on them, in the name of "cleaning."
Think about it - would you care to ingest any of the chemicals that are in a bottle of Mr. Clean
or Formula 409
? Have you read the warnings on the bottles to not only not ingest them, but to use them in well ventilated areas? That means you're not even supposed to breathe
them. How can anyone consider that to be clean?
Of course, there are products out there, such as the GreenWorks
stuff, that claim to be better for the environment. This is where the term "greenwashing" comes in. Look at the label. If some of that got on your food, would your food still be edible? I'm going to guess that "In case of ingestion, drink a glassful of water. Call a doctor or poison control center." on the label means no.
I make the majority of my own cleaners for this reason. If I drop a cookie on the counter, I want to know that my counter is truly clean and that nothing poisonous has gotten on that cookie, because dang it, I don't like to waste cookies. Along those lines, if there is something that I can't make, or choose not to make due to money/time/space constraints, I try to choose products that are better choices for the environment and my family. I thought I'd share some of my favorites.
First up - you need a good all purpose cleaner. I make mine by mixing 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup lemon juice (strain out the pulp), 1 tablespoon tea tree oil, and 6-10 drops of essential oil in a 24 oz spray bottle. I use grapefruit oil because I think it smells nice and clean, but you can use anything you like. Mix it up, then fill the bottle with water the rest of the way. The tea tree oil has antiseptic properties
, and is all natural. It will even clean toxic molds
If you have something that's really dirty and needs a good scrub, make a paste of liquid dish soap and baking soda. Spread it on half a lemon and you can use that to scrub your sink, bathtub, etc. I like to use the Seventh Generation dish soap
because it's biodegradable. I also use it to fill the soap dispensers in my bathrooms. Not only are those lovely smelling goodies from Bath and Body Works full of chemicals that will be in our water supply forever, using antibacterial products when not needed
(soap and hot water kill most germs) contributes to super bacteria that get harder and harder to kill.
Do you know someone who is sick a lot and is always demanding antibiotics from their doctor, even for a simple cold? They probably helped to do it to themselves, by lowering their immunity with all that crap. Take it when you need it, and just deal if you don't. Antibiotics don't kill viruses like the common cold anyway, so you're just dumping crap in your system to make your mind happy at that point.
The next thing is dusting - specifically your wood. Mix 2 tablespoons lemon juice (strain the pulp!) and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small spray bottle. I use those little pump ones from the travel toiletries section at Target. Give it a good shake right before you spray it on a soft cloth and use that to dust and polish all of your wood furniture. It works SO much better than Pledge or Olde English or any of that stuff and if you make a salad later on... well, okay, maybe not. :)
Laundry - if you're one of those people who tends to do four or five loads at a time, look into getting some soap nuts
. They're the husks of berries from the Sapindus tree and contain a natural substance called saponin that will clean your clothes. They're biodegradable, compostable, and work really well. They even used to take that cement like dried baby cereal from Bubba's bibs when he was smaller. The only issue I have with them is that they last 4-5 loads, and those loads have to be done consecutively. I tend to do just one load a day. You can also use your soap nuts to make other household cleaners, such as all purpose cleaner and even shampoo, if you are so inclined!
Go ahead and get rid of your fabric softeners and substitute vinegar. I promise you that your clothes will not smell like you were bathing in pickle juice! Regular fabric softeners work by coating your clothing. This makes towels be not as absorbent and your clothes to become dull. Also, if you use sheets in the dryer you're adding all those to the landfill, and the liquid is just another chemical to put in our water. Finally, the thought of the baby chewing on a blanket or shirt coated with that crap kinda makes me gag. I just fill the softener dispenser with plain old white vinegar when I load the machine.
Those are just a few small ideas to get you started and give you something to think about.