Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Glimpse into Eco-Babyz #20: Green Cleaning

Green cleaning for me as a mother is not much about being good to the environment as it is about the immediate effects of the products I use on the health of my family. Sure I would probably continue using chemicals like Comet, Windex, 409, etc... if there was no proof they are harmful to all living things and they didn't stink so bad. Honestly just the stench from the cleaners alone is enough to make me hate cleaning. After we got married, I would always ask my husband to do the spraying and scrubbing because I couldn't deal with the smell - I just left the room or the house. Little did I know that it isn't just stinky, but very harmful for the respiratory system, skin, and entire body.

Ever since we switched to natural cleaners when I got pregnant, I've been wondering why I wasted my time, health, and money on expensive chemical potions that didn't even always work that great. Now I enjoy cleaning and no longer need to ask my husband to do it! No, I'm not a neat freak, rather quite the opposite. I'm embarrassed to say how often the floors get washed around here. Dusting usually gets done before we have guests. As for daily cleaning, it is usually just dishes, laundry, tables/counters, some vacuuming, and general mess containment (toddler related). I personally do not think that having a spotless house is beneficial for babies because they will not have the chance to develop immunity to common germs, otherwise you're setting them up for asthma and being sick often in the future. There are several simple products that we have become fans of over the past three years, as well as a few brands that make natural cleaners that are convenient and smell great. The first two are almost interchangeable and come at the best value.

  1. Baking Soda: My most trusted cleaning helper, not sure what I would do without it! It scrubs my stainless cookware, cleans tea and coffee cups, makes the sink shine, cleans the glass cooktop and oven. Keeps odors in the fridge and freezer to a minimum. You can also dilute it with water, add a few tea tree oil drops, and use as an all purpose cleaner. Sprinkle on carpet messed and then vacuum it up to clean (warning, you need a good vacuum cleaner, our 30 year old central vac couldn't handle it).
  2. Borax: I love how powerfully Borax cleans everything in the bathroom without any stink. I am sure that many 'natural cleaning' companies use Borax (and baking soda) as a base for their products. It makes my toilet bowl, sink, and tub sparkle. I even use it on the stainless faucets to get all the water stains off and I use it dry on the bathroom mirrors - leaves no streaks! It is absolutely fabulous on soap scum and water stains. I've been meaning to add it to my laundry as well to get cleaner sheets and towels and aid in removing stains. It has also gotten rid of ants inside the house on one occasion (mixed with sugar and boiled). So no, it isn't for eating, but it doesn't leave harmful compounds in your air either.
  3. Seventh Generation: Out of all SG products I mostly just use the dish washing liquid and multi-surface cleaner. It is convenient, readily available in stores, and has mostly OK ingredients.
  4. Cloth & Rags: I've dumped my sponges for good reason. The bacteria that grows in them is nearly impossible to kill and get rid off. Since we do not use a microwave or dishwasher, I have no way to disinfect them. Instead I use a bamboo dishcloth that can be easily tossed in the wash with kitchen towels and is biodegradable once I'm done with it. I also use microfiber cloths for dusting and general cleaning.
  5. Charlie's Soap: For tough stains and laundry I really like Charlie's Soap. Their All-Purpose Cleaner has helped me with stains on several occasions, both on clothing and surfaces. I use the powder detergent on a regular basis with cloth diapers and do not have any build-up issues. I'm running out of my review sample so I'm definitely buying more considering it is such a great deal. The 80 load bag has lasted me seven months!
Of course you should still keep all your cleaning supplies away from children even if you use natural products, but at least you will have the peace of mind knowing that you are not putting carcinogenic pollutants in the air your family breathes. I like my routine, it is so much more simplified than the 15 different cleaning solution bottles that crowded each other out under the sink. :)

What do you clean your house with? Any basics I missed? Ask me!

If you haven't yet, check out numbers 1 through 19 of our Glimpse into Eco-Babyz:


  1. Thanks for sharing :) I got the Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail it's very nice but it came with an Arm and Hammer ad that had many useful ideas for baking Soda! I had no idea you could use this for many things!

    First time Mom next time I think i am going to try cloth diapers!

  2. Thank you for the post. Interesting as always. Have you heard anything about Mrs.Meyers products? They sell it in walmart... Also do you know anything similar to cosmetics database.com but for household products?

  3. I am your newest follower! I love your blog! Keep up the great job!



  4. Wow this is a great resource.. I’m enjoying it.. good article

  5. Baking Soda and White Vinegar are staple cleaning products in our home. I don't understand why people feel the need to use so many toxic chemical cleaners, when there are so many healthier options. Especially with little ones running around the house, kids chew on everything...do we really want them getting a mouthfull of bleach or lysol? I think not. Great post!

  6. I am slowly switching to green cleaners. I use vinegar and water on almost all surfaces (except the bathroom) and use natural laundry detergent. Still looking for alternative bathroom and toilet bowl cleaners.


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