clean and green living · housekeeping

a greener spring cleaning

Touched off by my search for a flame-retardant free mattress for my son, as well as a general shift to cleaner and more organic eating, I’ve de-chemicalized my cleaning routines. Pinterest has a plethora of ideas for homemade and chemical-free household cleaners, and I’ve made some great switches.

Previously I used a diluted Mrs. Meyers fragrant all-purpose cleaner for many jobs around the house, which was mostly natural but expensive. I’ve also used a 50/50 vinegar water mix on windows for years. I use vinegar diluted in hot water for my floors. However, I also relied on some more conventional (and nasty) cleaners for certain extra yucky jobs. A heavy spring cleaning used to mean bleach in the bathroom and caustic oven cleaner and grease cutters in the kitchen. Yuck. But, for a long time I associated the smell of bleach with clean and didn’t think twice about using heavier cleaners from time to time.

After spending some time on the Environmental Working Group’s safety database of household cleaners, I decided to change my ways once and for all. I’m still using vinegar and hot water to wash my wood floors. I use a cotton string mop and sop up excess water with an old towel.

But, I’ve switched my all-purpose cleaner to Bronner’s Sal Suds and I love it. Unlike their castile soaps, Sal Suds seem to work a bit better for household cleaning and they’ve earned the hard to find “A” score from the Environmental Working Group. It doesn’t leave a soapy residue at all, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at its grease cutting ability as well as how shiny my bathroom was after a good Sal Suds cleaning. I used one tablespoon in a quart of water in a spray bottle, so it is also very economical. It doesn’t have added fragrance, just some natural pine oils so the scent is very light and fresh and doesn’t linger. This site is very helpful for dilutions for various jobs. I plan to also try it as a dish washing soap and possibly as a laundry detergent as well.

I also learned a little trick to make my go-to vinegar water solution smell a little nicer and even work a little better. I soak orange peels in vinegar for a week or two and mix that 50/50 with water. It smells nice and I think the orange oil must also have some cleaning properties because it just seems to be getting things cleaner. I use this on my windows, to clean toys, on the highchair, to spot clean the floor, and occasionally on the dining room table.

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Finally, I decided to try cleaning my oven with baking soda instead of oven cleaner and you know… it worked pretty well considering how nasty I had let my oven get. I made up a paste of baking soda and water and smeared it on everything. I let it set for several hours, although I probably should have let it sit overnight. Before scraping and wiping off the paste and the muck I sprayed it with the orange vinegar water solution above and that seemed to help lift all the nastiness off. I did have to use some Bartender’s Friend and a straight edge razor on the door’s glass because the baking soda was not doing anything to remove the baked on grease from the glass.

I will say, if I use baking soda in my oven again, I will be extremely careful not to get any on the heating elements. Or wipe it off immediately if I do. Our oven’s heating element just sort of fell apart in two places a couple weeks after my deep cleaning and I believe the baking soda had corroded it.

I still have some projects on my list to tackle, including windows, washing the curtains, and vacuuming the mattress. I’d also like to de-clutter the closets. We’ll see how much I get done!

 

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