Thursday, May 27, 2010

Green Cleaning

Back in this post almost a year ago I shared about beginning our journey to clean green. I can officially update that these four cleaners are now the only ones in my home: baking soda, white vinegar, olive oil and lemons. It has taken me awhile to make the transition complete but it's done! I also bought a huge stack of white cleaning cloths at Bed, Bath and Beyond with some of their nifty 20% off coupons and have almost completely eliminated our family's use of paper towels. :)

Before I go on I will answer two questions that always come up when this conversation begins. First, no your home does not smell like vinegar all the time. As soon as the vinegar dries the smell is gone. Vinegar is a natural deodorizer and will actually remove smells. Don't believe me? Google it! :) Second, yes vinegar is a disinfectant. When I researched this awhile back the consensus was that vinegar does kill germs and bacteria. Not like bleach will but enough for most household uses. You may want to keep something stronger on hand for areas that need to be disinfected more thoroughly (thinking raw chicken here - ick!).

I thought I'd share how we did it because for me that was part of what took me so long to make
the transition. I knew the "what" and also the "why", but the "how" was holding me up. Below is what has worked for me. Depending on the surfaces in your home, you may have to adjust. For me it was just trial and error to see what would work. Also in the beginning I was using spray bottles for my vinegar but they kept breaking on me. Now I just carry around a gallon jug of vinegar with me as I clean and pour a bit on the cloth I am using.
  • mirrors & glass, bathroom/kitchen fixtures - I use 2 cloths. One I put straight vinegar on and wipe all over glass surface and with the other I wipe it all off. My glass and fixtures are clean and completely streak free!
  • bathroom sink and counters - In the sink I sprinkle some baking soda, scrub and rinse. On the counters I use straight vinegar and wipe off.
  • toilet - in the bowl I pour a cup (eyeball it) of vinegar and let it sit while I clean the rest of the bathroom. Then I scrub and flush. I was really skeptical this would be enough to keep the potty clean but it has worked great. For the outside of the potty I just wipe it down with a vinegar dampened cloth (usually the one I used for the glass earlier).
  • kitchen/bathroom floors - I discovered the Magic Eraser Mop a few years ago and it was love at first site. I used to use a multi-purpose cleaner along with it but now I simply add a cup of vinegar to a gallon of hot water and my floors are really clean, at least until the boys or the dog come through. ;)
  • kitchen sink - I sprinkle baking soda in the sink. Then I cut a lemon or two in half, squeeze the juice on the soda making a paste, then use the cut part of the lemon as my scrubber to clean the sink. Clean and smells really, really yummy, too!
  • kitchen surfaces - for every single thing in my kitchen I use straight vinegar and the two cloths - one to wipe vinegar on and one to wipe it off. If you have really, really stuck on food in your microwave you can put a little vinegar in a microwaveable bowl and turn microwave on until vinegar steams up microwave a bit. Let sit for a minute or two and then even the most stuck on food will wipe right off. Be prepared for a strong vinegar smell though. ;)
  • furniture polish - this one I played with a bit. There were several different homemade recipes I saw out there using brewed tea, essential oils and all sorts of other things. I really wanted to stick with the basics I already had on hand though. I found several recipes for using a mixture of olive oil and vinegar; most had a lot of oil with a little vinegar. For me that was too much oil. Now I just mix about 1/4 cup of white vinegar with about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a container with a lid, shake until mixed and use.
  • carpet cleaning - I have white carpet and before you think I'm nuts, no I did not pick it out! I try to clean the carpets in lesser used areas once a year and in high traffic areas every six months. All I do is use really hot water in my steam cleaner with two cups of vinegar per fill up. It would depend on how large the tank of your cleaner is to determine how much vinegar you would want. I do use Spot Shot if I have gone over an area 2x and a spot remains but honestly the vinegar and hot water alone get out much more than you would think. And the deodorizing properties of vinegar will leave your carpets smelling really fresh and no soap residue!
I have not had any luck with homemade dishwasher detergent. I tried multiple recipes with many different ingredients and my dishes were just not getting clean. It probably has to do with the fact that I have a 15 year old machine; I will try again if/when we get a new one. I haven't even tried making my own laundry detergent for two reasons: the dishwasher fiasco made me a little gun-shy and Sams Club now carries an enormous container of Ecos that will last me forever because I only use half the suggested amount and supplement with a half-cup of Super Washing Soda per load.

Link any posts you have done on homemade cleaners or leave a comment with tips you have found to eliminate chemicals in your home. I would love to learn more!



~Angela (mommylawyer) said...

You've ABSOLUTELY inspired me! Thank you! :)

Jennefer said...

So glad it helped someone! Hope you are well and it's great to hear from you. Happy summer!!!

Mom to 5 Boys said...

Thanks so much for this! I've been starting to make my own cleaners as well. I've been using homemade window cleaner for almost a month now and I'm loving it! I know you said you haven't tried homemade laundry detergent yet, but I made this: and it's awesome! I use cloth diapers on my youngest and they are softer and the smell is completely gone! It's super easy to make, too. It is a bit time consuming because you have to grate the soap, but in my opinion it is worth it!

Andrea said...

Very inspiring!!

I've heard you can clean your microwave with lemons. I've never tried it, but I found the link below.

Since you are already using lemons in the kitchen you could try it and not have to smell the hot microwaved vinegar!!

LaughingLioness said...

Just wanted to let you know that I've awarded you a "Blog of Substance." Your blog always inspires me and is so peaceful. You can check it
Blessings, Lisa

Jennefer said...

Awwwww...thanks so very much! I left a comment on your blog but being such an infrequent blogger in the past year or so I am tickled to death that you thought enough of my ramblings to include me on your list!

Thank you!

Jennefer said...

Mom to 5 Boys and Andrea, thanks for your links! So helpful!!!