This week’s challenge from Reduce Footprints is a simple one it is:
This week test out eco-friendly cleaners. You can buy “green” versions or better yet….make your own. Use vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or search the internet for other natural, homemade options. If you are currently using something which contains toxins (typically identified by a long list of ingredients on the label and warning about skin irritation, breathing problems, etc) consider switching to a safer version.
If you’ve already made the switch to safe cleaners, please share your tips, suggestions and recipes.
Guess which part of that challenge I will be sharing with you today?
Yes, I’ve already switched over to non-toxic cleaners and have been chemical free in my home for several years. Before I share how I clean, I’d like to tell you a little about how I made the switch.
I had all the various cleaners, tub and tile, multi-purpose, kitchen cleaners, Lysol toilet bowl cleaner, etc. It was so expensive to buy all these different cleaners and raising two boys on my own the money was needed in other ways, but it wasn’t the money which motivated me to change.
I never could use bleach as it irritated my lungs, so that was never in the house. I did use a name brand laundry detergent (Era) which worked great as a stain remover/pre-treater so that was one product I didn’t need.
I was switching from a SAD diet to vegetarian diet at the time after being diagnosed with cancer, I was unable to undergo Chemotherapy due to my disability (long story) which meant I had to find other ways to fight the cancer. In cleaning up our diet, one day I stopped to look at what I was cleaning my bathroom with and wondered about all those ingredients on the label.
I knew from my studies in cosmetology that our skin is our biggest organ and will absorb everything it comes in contact with. While I knew my cancer wasn’t related to these toxins I needed to cut my exposure to let my body heal.
I know a lot of people making the switch to natural cleaners use up what they have already, when running out of a product is when they will introduce the non-toxic cleaners into their routines, not me!
I asked my grandparents what they used to clean with before cleaners were available in the stores. The two things that kept coming up were baking soda and white vinegar. I stopped at the store and bought the largest container of each then went home, bagged up all the toxic cleaners in my home and delivered them to a friend who I knew would welcome them. I had thought about simply tossing them out, but the concern of what these would do in the landfills when combined with everything else toxic had me worried.
I know giving them to someone else isn’t the best idea, I mean they are still finding their way into the waterways, but she would have bought them anyway, still does today, even adding to her supplies the now overly used antibacterial cleaners and soaps. I can’t change others, only myself, so pass it on I did.
For the record, I did heal from my cancer without any pharmaceutical help and have been cancer free for 24 years. The healing time took a while, from a cancer diagnosis to a clean bill of health took 3 years, but I came out of it a stronger person and my children never had to see a mother so sick she couldn’t take care of even herself.
Enough background, so how do I clean?
I don’t have any special recipes to share with you, I like life simple. So here is how I clean:
- Toilet bowl is cleaned with baking soda and white vinegar, I usually put it in at night then wipe clean in the morning.
- Tub: I have a couple of ways in which I clean the tub. When spraying my hair with vinegar I will spray the tile walls and then rinse before getting out. For the tub itself, I tried baking soda, but for hard stains oxygen bleach works best. I simply sprinkle a little on the floor of the tub then with a wet rag scrub and rinse.
- Toilet seat. Okay I have a thing about sitting where other people sit. To make sure I kill all germs I clean with white vinegar then spray lightly with hydrogen peroxide and let that dry.
- Bare floors are cleaned (I don’t have much so have no need for a mop) with a rag and a mixture of white vinegar and water, no rinsing needed!
- Vanity and sink are cleaned with baking soda and damp rag, the faucet is cleaned with white vinegar which leaves it shiny. I usually start with a white vinegar dampened rag to clean the faucet, then the door knobs, then into the bathroom to wipe down the other areas that would be “germier”. This way I progress from the cleaner to the dirtier areas saving water from having to rinse as often.
- The kitchen is pretty simple. I can clean everything from the counter top to the dishes with baking soda.
- To shine the sink, faucet, wipe down the cabinets and pulls, and wash the mirror I switch back to the white vinegar
- To clean the trash can I fill with hot water and vinegar, let sit for a bit then wipe clean.
- Normal freshening I sprinkle baking soda over the carpet then vacuum.
- Spot cleaning: hydrogen peroxide works wonderfully. Just soak the spot with a little peroxide then rub gently with a damp rag. Clean and easy. I haven’t tried it yet, but I believe oxygen bleach would probably work as well.
- I have used a simple mixture recently that I have been quite happy with. I have mixed oxygen bleach with baking soda, adding a small scoop to each load to wash.
- For fabric softener, which for a long time I didn’t use and put up with static…I now use a rag with is dampened with white vinegar and tossed in the dryer with the load of clothes. It works well when I need it.
- To avoid using fabric softener, simply sort your clothes. Natural fibers won’t need any. It’s the synthetic fabrics which get statically. I have eliminated the synthetic articles as I can, replacing them with natural cotton.
To Freshen a mattress: simply spray lightly with white vinegar and let dry then remake your bed!
As you can see, not only the cost of my cleaning supplies but also the need for storage space for all those cleaners has been reduced. I no longer have to worry about where I store cleaners in case a little one or pet would get into them as well.