“What are some simple tips to go green with your household cleaning?”
I like this topic because I like keeping things simple. I find that using non-toxic cleaning products are one of the fastest, easiest and simplest ways of reducing your family’s exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.
Making your own cleaning products is actually quite easy, and they simplify your life in a few ways. More on that later. For now, I’ll list just a couple of ways that you can easily make the switch to greener cleaning.
- Grab a gallon of generic white vinegar and a large box of baking soda next time you go grocery shopping.
- Invest in good cleaning cloths. I have a few high quality microfiber cloths I bought from FlyLady’s site, and I also love the white and red striped tea towels from IKEA. I buy more every time I go there. They’re around .50 each.
- Get several good spray bottles. If you have some leftover from current cleaning products, great. Rinse them out thoroughly, label them and reuse them. If not, buy a few but go for quality. The cheaper ones clog easily and won’t spray well. Good ones will last for years.
Now simply fill these with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water.
Everything from mirrors and windows, sinks, toilets, refrigerators, counters, tables and floors. (In other words, any hard non-porous surface. Fabrics too.)
If you want to get fancy, add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil. I do it when I remember. Even if you don’t, your home won’t smell like a pickle factory. The vinegar smell will dissipate in seconds leaving only the lovely smell of clean. (After using non toxic cleaners you will come to despise the fake, cloying, overpowering fragrances added to commercial cleaning products. Clean smells like nothing. Which is lovely in itself.)
If you need some abrasive, sprinkle on the baking soda.
Baking soda works wonderfully for baked on gook that lingers on pots and pans (I never scrub, I sprinkle baking soda on a wet pan and leave overnight. It wipes off effortlessly the next day.). It scrubs a tub or grimy sink. It deodorizes the fridge and removes those tough spills. It makes cleaning the stovetop easy. It removes trash can and diaper pail odors. All without scratching.
And you can use vinegar and baking soda together to declog your drains!
Now for some of the advantages of this approach to cleaning.
1) Green cleaning can save money. The 50/50 vinegar/water solution in a large spray bottle costs pennies. A gallon of vinegar lasts me several months. Buying cleaning cloths is much cheaper over the long run than buying paper towels.
2) Green cleaning saves time. No hunting for coupons and deals. Since a bottle of commercial all purpose cleaner costs around $3 and since the marketing machine has convinced us that we need a separate cleaner for each need/room of the house, many people spend a decent portion of their weekly food budget on cleaning products. So to save money they hunt for coupons and deals, often getting these products for nearly free. This takes time, and going to multiple stores.
3) You don’t run out as often because you can easily make (or wash) more. My homemade laundry detergent is an example. I make it 10 gallons at a time. Our large family uses this for months.And since some of the same ingredients I use for it also go into my homemade dishwasher detergent, I don’t have to buy that either! Ditto for cleaning cloths. You do laundry anyway so it’s no more work, and cleaning cloths work better than paper towels.
4) The kids can help, which saves you time. You can hand your toddler a spray bottle of vinegar/water and a cloth, and they’ll happily “help”. As they get older, they can help you make the cleaning products. My kids think it’s fun making laundry detergent. And you don’t have to worry about poisoning them.
More about simple cleaning:
There are a lot of great green cleaning products out there. I’ve reviewed plenty of them on this site, and I use some occasionally when I find a great deal. But the simpler method really is easier, and another advantage is that making your own uses far less packaging.
More articles about green cleaning:
Now read what the other Green Moms Weekly participants have to say: