Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Natural Cleaning Ideas - Top 10

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I swear everything we use is out to poison you.  Look at the cosmetic database and you can see all the toxic chemicals in all the lotions, soaps, etc. that we spread all over our bodies every day.  Also everything in our environment leaches toxic chemicals.  Plastic water bottles leach BPA into our water, tin cans leach BPA into our food, our mattresses leach fire retardants into our skin, the cleaners we use leave residue all over our house, our carpets, our walls, our furniture, our clothes. They are all leaving trace toxins for us to absorb in our skin and breathe through our lungs.

While I’m sure that the minute amount from one single thing probably won’t hurt you, but when you add up all the small amounts from every single thing, I believe that we are slowly poisoning ourselves.  So I do what I can, and sometimes I stress about it, and feel helpless, and other times I just figure that is the way things are.  But these are the things I’ve done to help reduce the chemicals in our house

  1. Vinegar:  Vinegar can be used (1 part vinegar – 1 part water) as a disenfectant on countertops, bathrooms, and floors.  It can be used undiluted to wash windows.  It can be put in your laundry as a fabric softener and sanitizer, and you can use it to cook with!  So obviously it is non-toxic.  My husband always complains about the smell, but honestly I can’t handle the smell of commercial cleaners.  They make me sick.  So, I think you just get used to it, and the smell dissipates pretty fast.  
  2. Baking Soda – Baking soda works great when you really need to scrub.  It also does a great job absorbing moisture and odors when set out.  I sprinkle it on the carpet when one of the children have an accident, and vacuum it up when it dries. 
  3. Plunger – This is one item I discovered that I haven’t seen on any (or maybe many) green cleaning lists and really is the inspiration of this list. If your sink (bathroom or kitchen) is clogged with mold or hair use your plunger to unclog it.  It works much better than any chemical concoction you can pour down the drain (but you can pour some vinegar down there too after you are done) and is completely safe. 
  4. Laundry Brush – Another useful tool for cleaning bathroom drains is a dryer brush.  I found one at the store that was advertised for cleaning out the lint in your dryer (it's got a small brush on a long twistable handle).  I shove this down the drain and find it works great to prevent clogging.
  5. Biokleen Diswasher Soap – This is what I use for cleaning dishes.  It works well.  It is supposedly safe.  I also use it to fill up the soap dispensers for washing hands. 
  6. Castille Soap – Another general purpose soap that works well for hand soap dispensers and bubble bath, and general purpose cleaning.  Bronners is the brand that is most easily found.  Their labels have bizarre, preachy, carrying on, but the soap is simple.
  7. Baking soda and Castille Soap – Mix these two together and you get a real good scrubby paste to get tough stuff clean.
  8. Old cloth diapers – I have a bunch of old green mountain prefolds (the best prefolds for actual diapering) and they are awesome rags to use for mopping the floor.  They get damp, but not too wet.  I just get them wet and use a squirt bottle with vinegar and scrub away.  
  9. No dryer sheets – Dryer sheets coat your laundry “in something” so that they aren’t staticy.  Floyd has sensitive skin so I just stopped using dryer sheets one day, and sometimes my clothes get static, but not that often.  When we got a new dryer it said that as long as you don’t dry your clothes more than they need to, they shouldn’t get static cling. You can get wool or plastic dryer balls, but honestly I don't think you really need anything.
  10. Uhhh did I say vinegar?  The stuff is magical. J

Note:  I have had a hard time finding a laundry soap that works really well.  Sometimes our fleece clothes are still smelly.  Actually I have used Allens Naturally and it does work great, but at $50 for a gallon (with shipping), it is quite expensive.  I’ve tried/use soap nuts,  Seventh Generation and Biokleen, but none of them have been that great. 


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:


Unknown said...

What a great list! I'm constantly looking up products on the cosmetics database before buying them--it's a great tool to have in your back pocket. We use a lot of vinegar, too!

I Thought I Knew Mama said...

Thank you for these recommendations! Very helpful!

Lauren Wayne said...

Cool ideas! I am a fellow vinegar devotee, and you just reminded me to sprinkle some baking soda on my carpet before vacuuming. I keep meaning to do that. I do use both in the laundry and for cleaning.

Also, I'm glad I'm not the only one who uses gentle dish soap as liquid hand soap! I had the hardest time finding any hand soap that wasn't antibacterial, and finally realized dish soap doesn't in fact give me dishpan hands.

I'm really going to have to try tossing the dryer sheets; I was afraid my clothes (esp. jeans & towels) would be too crunchy-stiff without, but no?

We've been using Ecos brand laundry detergent recently, because Costco had a huge (of course) bottle and so far so good. I don't use very much, either.

Shelbey F said...

Hi, I'm new here, but I just wanted to add my two cents. I love vinegar too! I just wanted to let you know that I bought some wool dryer balls and I really like them! I add some essential oil so they still give clothes that dryer sheet smell. Also, I've been using Hope Suds (you can buy it online, a family makes it to help adoptive parents) and its all natural and I love it!

teresa said...

so... Vinegar!
I really need to jump into the vinegar party.
Thanks for the reminders.

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

For baking soda on accidents - do you need to scrub? I'd love to have more natural carpet cleaners!

Laura said...

Dionna - We have thick carpet so accidents kind of sit on top. I take a prefold diaper and mop it up, then just sprinkle baking soda on it and vacuum it up when dry. It seems to work. It doesn't smell afterwards. I do clean the carpets about every other month as well.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever try making laundry detergent? I think we talked about it once at MOMS club 2 Green day. It works really well for us and reduces the static problem too, it seems (except towels, sweats). Or, are some of the ingredients not really that "good." Sarah

Laura said...

What are the ingredients Sarah? I've tried some washing soda, borax, and vinegar mixes, but not with any real recipe--I've just thrown them in the washer when I've ran out of laundry detergent. It's the fleece clothing that sometimes comes out smelly. I also want to say that I miss the MOM's club group down there. :(

Erica @ ChildOrganics said...

It's horrible when you can just walk in the grocery store and smell the cleaning aisle, makes my nose itch! This is an excellent list. I also use peroxide with the vinegar in our house, a spray bottle for each. They work really well together.
We also like soap nuts for in the dishwasher. I haven't tried the Biokleen yet. Thank you!

Erin said...

It's not as basic as vinegar, but I love ecos for a laundry detergent. We have an HE washer and a gallon lasts forever.

Kristin @ Intrepid Murmurings said...

Love this! We buy vinegar in double gallon packs at Costco and we really go through them, for so many things.

ast year for Earth Day my daughters preschool had a "make your own cleaners" day and I came home with two concoctions that I use A LOT now. One was a spray bottle with vinegar/water/tea tree oil and the other is a scrub with liquid castile soap/baking soda/glycerin/lavendar/tea tree oil. LOVE THEM! And love that the kids can use them too, without worry.

I need to look into hand soap options -- with three little kids I am washing my hands all day long and most hand soaps or dish soaps make my hands reeeeeealy dry.

Alicia said...

Great list! I'm a lover of vinegar too :)

Momma Jorje said...

Have you tried adding some baking soda to your laundry to help with the smell?

My husband smokes and my mother (I do laundry at her place) has asked that I add baking soda to our loads to keep her washer from smelling like smoke. It has, apparently, worked!

It might do the trick for you, too! :-)