Lean, mean, green, and… clean?

January 31, 2011

Today I’d like to talk about cleaning. More importantly: cleaning products.

I used to be a cleaning product junkie. Maybe because I spent some time during college cleaning on-campus apartments? But I’ve tried to block that from memory. Anyhow, I used to like having a different cleaner or soap or solution for every possible household surface.

I’ve become more conscious of my decisions and how they affect the earth and my budget. Not only that, but how they might affect my family.

Having a child made me so much more aware of all of the chemicals in just about EVERYTHING. Cloth diapering has changed how I do laundry; I no longer like to use things with dyes, artificial fragrances, etc. and I no longer use fabric softener. At first I only made that change to my son’s clothing (and his diapers) but then I thought, ‘Why should I have that stuff on my skin?’ and ‘That stuff is coating my clothes, and my son spends a lot of time in my arms.’

A few years ago, I began using greener and more natural cleaning products in our home, such as Method. I began to cut back on the harsh chemicals I was using. My “harsh” disinfectants of choice include Method and 7th Generation sprays. I use Method mop solution (hardwood floor formula) and have a few of their other products. I like their hand soaps.

The latest thing I am trying is utilizing vinegar as a household cleaner. I already buy distilled white vinegar by the gallon. It has so many uses. I use it for laundry. I use it as an ear wash for one of my dogs (per my veterinarian’s suggestion). I use it to clean out coffee maker. And now, mixed 50/50 with water, I will be using it as an all-purpose spray.

Yesterday, I rinsed out two of my empty Method bottles and added my own special touch with some scrapbook paper (and packaging tape… admittedly, it looked better before the tape was added, but sometimes you have to be practical and I don’t want to wreck the label the first time I reach for the bottle with damp hands). Voila! All-purpose, inexpensive, earth-friendly household cleaner.

I have the following goals to work on in regard to our household cleaning habits:
1) Limit our paper towel use. Use rags for cleaning, cloth napkins more frequently, and hand towels more often (my husband gets a special nudge on this one).
2) Phase out our antibacterial hand soaps, and go back to using our Method soap full-time. Leave bottles of hand sanitizer in the kitchen and bathroom for when hand sanitizing is actually necessary (i.e., far less often than at every hand washing).
3) Switch over to a different type of dishwasher detergent. Something less chemically and more earth/family friendly.

How about you? Do you prefer to scour with bleach and harsh chemicals, or do you like to take the more natural route? Got any favorite homemade cleaners? Did having children change the way you clean your house? (Er, well, beside needing to clean more often yet magically having a dirtier house.)

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One Response to “Lean, mean, green, and… clean?”

  1. I buy the cheapest stuff or whatever I have a coupon for.

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