Greener Cleaning Practices (& Healthier Too!)

3 Jun

In reading up on various ways and areas of my life where I can improve my sustainability, I have been very happy to note that in the categories of work/office, electronics, health & beauty and fashion, I am pretty darn green. In household and food areas, I practice a lot of sustainable habits but have learned about so many more that can be easily incorporated.

George Frey for The New York Times

One area that was a huge concern to me, the more I read about it, was all the cleaners that we use. Did you know that, in spite of pollution, the air inside the average American home is five to ten times more toxic than the air outside? Indoor air is typically contaminated by between 20 and 150 different pollutants – most of which come from petroleum based cleaners. (I will add this to my easy Rule of P’s – avoid Plastics, individual/excessive Packaging, Processed foods, and now Petroleum based products).

These are so dangerous that the New York Times recently ran an article about it. Not only that, but they are actually less effective than those made naturally and organically. There must be a reason why S.C. Johnson & Son has recently announced that they are putting out a new version of Windex that contains vinegar instead of ammonia – but it can’t be because that and other chemicals are bad for you, can it?

It’s unbelievably easy, and cheap, to make your own cleaning products. You can save hundreds of dollars a year, be greener on the environment, and much healthier for your home and family. For example, a typical make-at-home recipe for glass cleaner costs about 25 cents – compared to an average of $4-6 for a bottle of toxic chemicals at the store. The bottom line is, use plant-based products as opposed to petroleum or chemical based.

At the bottom of this post I share several proven natural recipes for making your own cleaning products. If you don’t want to make your own cleaners, here are some good on-the-shelf products to try:

  • Meyer’s – I have used their countertop cleaner and laundry detergent for years – fabulous and they smell divine! My favorite is geranium, and apparently there is a new rosemary scent.
  • Seventh Generation (I have only used their paper products, but hear good things)
  • Method
  • Imus Greening the Cleaning products

Home Cleaning Product Recipes

Window/Glass Cleaner
1-1/2 to 2 cups water
1/2 cup white or apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup rubbing alcohol (70%)

All-Purpose Cleaner (Countertops, bathroom etc)
8 cups water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup baking soda

Wood Furniture Polish
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp Borax

Toilet Cleaner
1 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup baking soda

Bathroom Tile Cleaner
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide

Soap Scum Remover
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup baking soda

Carpet Stain Remover
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup Borax
1/4 cup salt

Basic Disinfectant and Odor Remover
1 cup water
20 drops essential oil (try thyme, eucalyptus or lavender)
Optional: 3 drops Castile Soap

I will never use toxic, expensive cleaners again. Instead I’ll use that money to treat myself to a glass of organic wine or a delicious local farmers market meal after all that cleaning!

4 Responses to “Greener Cleaning Practices (& Healthier Too!)”

  1. Shelley Seale June 20, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    Kathy shared with me this additional recipe to use in place of Comet:

    2 cups baking soda + 1/2 cup borax + lemon or orange essential oils, love the scent much better than Comet and it is not toxic!

  2. iphone5walletcase September 7, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

    Thanks for the awesome tip. Green Virgin Products also make good “green” cleaning supplies, as well as Seventh Generation.


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    […] glass and bathroom cleaners. I am now replacing all of those with natural homemade cleaners. Read the next post for some great recipes! Saves […]

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