Cleaning Supplies & Methods
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Cleaning Supplies & Methods
I share a janitorial job of which we prefer to stay as biodegradable and
possible. Currently we use Natures Miracle for stains and Simple Green
for floors &
counters, and Trader Joe's cedarwood-sage multipurpose cleaner for
windows. Every now and then I am tempted to use a non-green product for
tough jobs (floors, mostly) but my partner refuses, which is good because
it is forcing
me to find the ultimate cleaning product that is easy on the earth and the
them. I do not mind an MLM product, I am open as long as it works. Any
recommendations? Thank you.
I really like Holy Cow Multi-Purpose Cleaner. I've found a lot of green cleaners just
don't work very well, but I've been happy with this product. The only place I've seen it
is Piedmont Grocery, but they have a web site which may have more information.
A colleague of mine is working with a group of domestic
workers in San Francisco who are interested in encouraging
their employer to use less toxic cleaning supplies. She found
the Berkeley parents website and was interested to see people's
recommendations about less toxic products, and was hoping our
community could help her get a little more information.
She is looking for some personal testimonies from families
who have switched to using less toxic cleaning supplies,
including how you like the new materials, how they may have
improved the health of you and your children, and any
economic effects that the switch might have had.
She is also interested in any comments about how families
went about selecting a brand of ''nontoxic'' cleaner to use,
since there aren't any standard definitions of
what ''nontoxic'' or ''green'' and manufacturers change their
I have a great book to recommend:
''Clean House, Clean Planet - Clean Your House for Pennies a
Day, the Safe, Nontoxic Way'' by Karen Logan
This woman sells her own eco-friendly cleaning products and in
her book, tells you how to make them at home. I have a dog-
eared copy and have made everything from an all-purpose cleaner
to furniture polish. AND MOST OF THEM HAVE WORKED!
I have nine month old twins and have become very aware of how
smelly our household cleaners are. The odor is really intense
and I can't imagine it's particularly good for any of us.
What non-toxic/non-smelly household cleaners do folks use?
For lots of things, I really like using baking soda. You can
sprinkle it on like other powdered cleansers - either on a damp
sponge or damp surface - , but is has no smell, is non-toxic, and
doesn't scratch (unless the surface is super-delicate). I think
it works better than those toxic formulas for some things - like
Vinegar (diluted) works well for mild soap scum, shining faucets,
and glass/mirrors. It's not toxic, and the mild vinegar smell
I work with Natural Home Cleaning Professionals, an eco-friendly
housecleaning service that has tested a good number of products
for non-toxic/non-smelly and effective cleaning. We've had great
results with two environmental labels, Seventh Generation and
Ecover, both available at Berkeley Bowl. We also use a light
vinegar and water solution, which is very effective for cutting
build-up on shiny surfaces and wood.
Try homemade cleaners. Baking soda and vinegar work on
everything and although vinegar has an odor, it is non-toxic.
Vinegar and water make an excellent window cleaner, while baking
soda is a fabulous non-abrasive scrubbing powder.
I'm with you, those toxic-smelling cleaners can't be healthy. A
lot of us are conditioned to associate certain odors like bleach
with cleanliness, but I prefer my clean house to be odorless.
Some cleaners I like:
Bon Ami cleanser for sinks and bathtubs.
Baking soda for cleaning fingerprints off walls (you don't need
Formula 409!)Just make a paste with a wet sponge.
2 Tblsp vinegar in a quart of water makes a good window cleaner.
Or use club soda.
For an ''air freshener'', open some windows.
I use Murphy Oil Soap for floors. It's not odorless, but less
toxic than most.
There's a book by Karen Logan, ''Clean House, Clean Planet: Clean
Your House for Pennies a Day the Safe Nontoxic Way.''
Also, the EPA has a website on this subject,
Another health-conscious Mom
There are several ''natural'', ecological cleaners at places like Whole
Foods or the Berkeley Bowl. If you're into making your own cleaners,
check out the book ''The Naturally Clean Home'' by Karyn Siegel-Maier,
which has recipes for all sorts of cleaners using simple ingredients like
Borax, baking soda, and essential oils.
You can make all of your cleaning solutions with vinegar,
baking soda, water, essential oils, and boric acid. A good
resource is from the Super Baby Foods book by Ruth Yaron.
non-toxic cleaner fan
Vinegar can be used for a number of cleaning jobs. Salt and baking
soda are also excellent cleaners. Water softener is a good agent, too,
and can be mixed with the other cleaners to make almost anything.
Also, you can buy Ivory soap flakes for really tough dirt. Mixed with
water, they really loosen up things.
I use these products for a lot of different jobs and my friends think I'm
pretty anal-retentive about my house so they must work. I also use
bleach. It's toxic, but I find it's one of the better disinfectants. I keep it
and the water softener in a place that is utterly unreachable by my son.
The other things I don't worry about. If he wants a mouth full of vinegar
or salt, I doubt he'll want a second mouthful.
I have found that these simple products are often more effective than
the more toxic cleaning agents, they are cheaper, and they get the job
done. If you are unfamiliar with how to use these things as cleaners,
there is a good book called HALEY'S HINTS that I really like. Good luck.
-- clean freak.
I use fragrance-free dish detergent, laundry detergent, soap,
shampoo, conditioner, lotion. Bon Ami for scrubbing. Vinegar for
soap scum. Just a damp sponger works for most things. For
instance, if there is a spot on the carpet, just try a damp
sponge first. Here are some more ideas:
You are right to be concerned about the chemicals, especially since the industry is
so unregulated on ''trade secret'' ingredients. It is well known that banned
chemicals are slipped into products under the ''inert ingredients'' umbrella, allowing
continued exposure to their hazards.
I think baking soda, vinegar, vinegar. Bon Ami, and Dr. Bronner's work wonders.
Gaiam/7th Generation has a good line. Pharmaca also carries one called ''Mrs. ___''
that look promising.
A good resource for things environmental is the ecology center. They have a
collection of non-toxic cleaning recipes at:
I also have a more extensive list of recipes, many of which I have tried myself
(they really work), that I am happy to send to people. If you want this let me
know if Word format does not work for you.
Good for you for becoming aware of simplifying your cleaning supplies! The
Ecology Center on San Pablo at Parker Street has supplies and lots of
literature. Also, any of the larger health food stores would have
supplies. Vinegar and baking soda do a lot by themselves. Barbara
My housecleaner effectively does our whole house using only vinegar and
baking soda, along with a toilet bowl cleaner from a health food store.
I have a book called Clean & Green by Annie Bertold-Bond which tells you how
to make your own environmentally sound cleaning supplies.
Quick N Brite is a product that can be mixed in different strengths for
different applications. It's good for counters, glass, floors, taking out
stains on clothing, getting crayon off walls, etc etc. We are gradually
replacing most of our cleaning products with this one. It's even available
in a formulation for regular laundry, though I haven't tried it yet.
Here's the address of the company that makes it, so you can order it
directly from them:
Hope this is helpful!
I use two maybe three products. About 75% of what I need done gets
Simple Green ( I keep two different concentrations premixed in spray
bottles - 1 very light which gets used as Windex would, and another mid
range for floors, appliances, etc.) I also keep some Comet or Ajax, for
porcelain sinks/tub. And some Murphy's oil soap mixed with water in a
spray bottle for spills on the hardwood floor, wood furniture, etc. Two
out of the three are non toxic, and the Comet/Ajax gets relatively little
use, and gets stored in a high cabinet. Diana
Someone recently asked for advice about child- and environment-safe
household products. If you have time, you may want to join a "Green
Team"in your neighborhood or workplace, guided by a coach from the Bay Area
GreenTeam Project. It's a great way to find out latest in cleaning
products, recycling, energy use, and so forth. All the things we say we'll
into some day, but never quite find the time.
For more info: Green Team Project, firstname.lastname@example.org, (415) 546-1231,
There is a cloth from Sweden called Trasan Miracle Microfiber Cleaning
the like). It is made from a special fiber that cleans incredibly WITHOUT any
cleaning products. All you add is hot water. I use it to clean most
from my kitchen, including a greasy, grimy stove, to the bathroom and
between. I started using it while I was pregnant to eliminate the noxious
associated with most cleaning products and am hooked. I think you can
order it off
their web site: http://www.trasan.com/index.html. I bought mine from some
random person whom I no longer know how to get in touch with. I loved it
so much I bought another one the next day for my mother. They cost about
$13 but last forever.
I've had mine about a year and have washed it many, many times and it still
great. If you have any other questions, feel free to contact me or check
this page was last updated: Oct 21, 2010
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