Thursday, February 18, 2010

Green Cleaning

So, since I'm on my fourth snow day this week, I thought I'd spend a little time cleaning today. For me, this is totally bleach, ammonia, and nasty chemical-free. My cleaning arsenal today will consist of the following tools: terrycloth rags (from worn out washcloths and towels), baking soda, white vinegar, salt, Charlie's Soap (my laundry soap), our lavender laundry booster, and maybe some newspaper (if I decide to clean windows or mirrors). Essentially, all the powdered stuff will help to act as an abrasive to scour and deodorize. The vinegar will act as a disinfectant. All of these are natural cleaners and many can be purchased in bulk at Costco or Sam's Club. (We store extras in the basement.) See my other posts for info on our laundry booster or Charlie's Soap (or visit the links above). (Please note, I am not about pushing products, but these are some of the best we've found or created in terms of natural and biodegradable cleaners.)

I'll start in the kitchen, cleaning the sink and drain. To clean the drain, I'll use the formula found in Everyday Cheapskate's Greatest Tips: 500 Simple Strategies for Smart Living by Mary Hunt. Her drain cleaner recipe is as follows:

Pour a mixture of 1 cup salt, 1 cup baking soda, and 1/2 cup white vinegar into the drain. Allow to sit for 15 minutes. Then flush with 2 quarts of boiling water, followed by hot tap water. Repeat if necessary.

I really like this method, especially since we have a septic tank. Using bleach to clean with or other toxic chemicals only serves to get rid of the good bacteria in the tank that keeps it operating the way it should. When I clean the sink itself, I'll start with Charlie's soap and laundry booster sprinkled in and scour with a terrycloth rag. (I like using the rags because I can just wash them with the towels, meaning that we use fewer paper towels... and have to buy fewer, saving both the landfill space and our budget.) If it needs a little sparkle after that, I'll give it a quick squirt with the vinegar mixture (about 1/2 vinegar and water) in a spray bottle and rinse.

I already ran the dishwasher last night, using white vinegar as the rinse agent, and it seemed to work well. I'll spray the counter tops with my vinegar solution, and move on to the bathroom.

In the bathroom, I'll use my vinegar mixture on the counters and wipe with a rag. Then I'll use the same drain cleaner as I did in the kitchen. To clean the shower, I'll use baking soda and laundry booster, as it gets in the textured floor pan really well. I won't bother to rinse it until one of us takes a shower in the morning. It won't hurt our feet to walk on the baking soda, and we'll save water by doing that. I'll use Charlie's soap to clean the toilet bowl, and vinegar spray for the seat. The Charlie's soap does the best of anything I've found at cleaning out the ring around the water we get from the sediment. When I clean the mirrors, I'll use the newspaper and vinegar spray, because the newspaper won't leave lint the way the rag might. Because I'm only using vinegar, I can compost the newspaper when I'm finished or let it dry and recycle it.

If I'm feeling industrious, I might tackle cleaning the fridge shelves. This will just involve a baking soda paste and water. If there's any baking soda that falls to the floor or into the drawers, I won't have to worry about it harming anything. It will be a nice deodorizer, although we hardly ever let anything go that far in our fridge (it either gets eaten, composted, put in the veggie stock bag, or frozen for later use).

For the bamboo floors, we use Poly Care, a product by Absolute Coatings, Inc. It's biodegradable and phosphate free. We simply attach a terrycloth cover to a Swiffer-like mop, spray the floor, and mop the area sprayed. We can wash the terrycloth cover with the towels, and I don't have to worry about any chemicals harming us or Lavender (who is very close to the floor). We can also use Poly Care on any other varnished wood surfaces, meaning we can use it on the cabinets and other wood furniture.

So, if you find time to clean today, I hope you take advantage of a few of these tips. Also, you can check out my cousin's blog for more cleaning tips... she's more fanatical about it than I am, I think! :) (Love ya, Liz!) Maybe she can do a guest post for us sometime.


  1. Love it! I'm definately going to have to check out Charlie's soap. I'm loving the things you have to say about it. Have you tried Mrs. Myers? I hear good things about it too. Since you and Benny are so wonderful with Green Living, you may want to check out the blog Young House Love ( :)
    Thanks for mentioning me in this post, I'll be sure to link you up in one of my posts soon!
    Love you!

  2. I haven't tried Mrs. Myers, but will look into it. Thanks for the tip!