Thursday, January 28, 2010

Clean & Green

I was cleaning the bathtub the other day with some sort of industrial strength muck and found myself in a chemical haze.  Headache. Scratchy throat.  Nasty taste in my mouth.  It all led me to jump online and do a little research.  I found the following appalling factoid:

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the air inside the typical home is on average 2-5 times more polluted than the air just outside—and in extreme cases 100 times more contaminated—largely because of household cleaners and pesticides.

What??  Think about this - the cleaners that you use to de-germ your house are likely more harmful than the germs themselves.  They include strong, artificial ingredients and harsh chemicals like bleach, ammonia, and alcohol.  We are hurting ourselves, our children, our pets, the environment, etc. etc. etc.  I find this incredibly disqusting, not to mention a cause of some serious anxiety.  I went under my kitchen sink, threw out every single toxic cleaner I owned (which luckily wasn't many!), and made a pledge to buy & make safe, non-toxic, environmentally friendly cleaners.  I found a couple recipes to get me started and it seems pretty easy.  

Basic ingredients: 
Vegetable oil based soap (like Dr. Bronners), water, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, borax, essential oils, tea tree oil. 

This is fun - it's like cooking, but you can't eat it!  Insead, the reward is knowing you will have a clean house without giving yourself cancer.  Sounds harsh, but this is serious business!    

All purpose cleaners - for countertops, floors, walls, carpet & upholstery.  Combine in a spray bottle:
  1. Dissolve 4 tablespoons baking soda in 1 quart warm water.
  2. Add 1/2 cup vinegar to between 1 cup and 1 quart of warm water.
  3. Combine 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil based liquid soap and 3/4 cup warm water.  Shake to blend. 
Abrasive cleaner: Use baking soda or non-chlorinated scouring powder (like Bon Ami).

Grease cleaner - use a mix of vinegar and salt. 

Disinfectant - for kitchen cutting boards and the bathroom: use a spray of distilled white vinegar followed by a 3 % peroxide spray.  Wipe clean. 

Glass cleaner - mix 1 quart warm water with 1/4 cup white vinegar.  Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice for a citrus scented version or add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil. 

Furniture polish - 1/2 teaspoon oil (like olive or jojoba), 1/4 cup vinegar or lemon juice (fresh works best of course!).  Mix in a glass jar and use a soft rag to dab and wipe onto wood. 

Two of my personal favorite safe & environmentally friendly brands to buy are Seventh Generation (expensive, but you can find coupons here) and Trader Joes Cleanliness is Next to Godliness (for the more frugal cleaner)!


  1. ha! I was going to write a post just like this today! I decided to wait until next week...

    And bravo. I've been staunch about green cleaning products for years now, it has made a huge difference in my health!

  2. I read an article a few months ago about how horrible cleaners were, and since then I've only cleaned with baking soda and vinegar.

  3. these are great! thanks for the recipes!

    i need to ditch my toxic fumes. it'll be hard though, because i am seriously attached to 409.

  4. I absolutely love Dr. Bronner's. I especially use it in my bathroom because it's so small. I abhor the smell of those bathroom cleaners like Arm n' Hammer and Scrubbing Bubbles. Ugh, there's no ventilation and I feel like I'm going to pass out! This is such a great post for alternatives.

  5. Cleaning our house has been much more pleasant since we have been using more and more natural cleaning products.
    Be warned though after you have been using green cleaners for a while your nose will become more sensitive and you will start noticing how heavily scented most things are.
    Now when I walk into a place that was just cleaned with conventional products I feel absolutely overwhelmed by the smell, and I never used to be that way before.

  6. this is such a great post!

  7. you have a really nice blog :D

  8. great post, I´ll take notes ;)

  9. Nice! I feel suddenly motivated to scrub my house this morning. :)

  10. It's awesome that you're finding a greener path to clean :)
    I hate the stench of cleaners.
    I really like your blog! Totally following you now haha

  11. So often over looked yet the toxic chemicals we use to clean with are pretty harsh on our system let alone the environment! Thank you for reminding me - must try out some of these recipes.

  12. Just this past year, we switched over to non-toxic cleaning products. It took a scary documentary for me to switch over. Thank goodness I did!!

  13. Good for you! Great post. I started making my own house cleaners 4 years ago. It only takes a minute to mix up a batch of cleaner, it smells great,works really well, and no more pounding toxic headaches.

  14. Happy, healthy, and clean is RIGHT!!! I tend to use my own cleaners as well! love it!

  15. Interesting... Great info. Thanks! :)

  16. Love the recipes!! Thanks! I've been using green products for years, but I love having homemade alternatives!

  17. This is great! I'm definitely going to try out these recipes!

  18. i watched a segment of Martha Stewart that showed how to make natural cleaning products. really, so much better than what you buy at the store.
    xox alison

  19. wow! thanks for the info!

    follow my blog too? :)

  20. That's happened to me a few times before too! I've been thinking of trying Seventh Generation for a while now.

    I'm definitely going to try these recipes!

  21. Great post! It's so much easier to be green than people realize. You've shown that with just a few ingredients and you've got your house covered. Stop by if you have time for my new giveaway - it's a good one! :)

  22. Looks like you might have taken a bloggy break. In case you come back...Thank you so much for following BonBon Rose Girls. We hope you'll follow us over at our new site too! We recently moved to our own URL: AND we started our own network called the Rosebud Network! Members are eligible for weekly "Freshly Picked Rosebud" features and, in addition, we're linking to network members when we can tie one of their posts into ours! In celebration of this we've been having giveaways galore that included Kate Spade, House of Harlow and Hapari swimwear among others...Our most recent one is for 3 sets of adorable notecards and a Starbucks gift card:
    Sorry for the epic comment and I hope to see you over at the new site! Hugs, Kristin