Friday, March 23, 2012

Clean, Green and Cheap, Part 2: Spring Cleaning

Back in October, I shared some of my strategies for switching to less-toxic personal care products without breaking the bank. Seeing as how spring cleaning season has officially arrived, it seems like a good time to share the products and potions I use to clean my home as "green and cheap" as I can. So here's a roundup of what I use to keep the different areas of my house as dirt- and germ-free as possible:


Counter and cutting board disinfectant: Straight up white vinegar will do the job here. Since I saw this orange-infused vinegar over at Frugally Sustainable, I've been meaning to brew up a batch as I love the freshness of citrus in the kitchen!

Dishwasher tablets I know some people have success making their own dishwasher detergent from equal parts washing soda and borax. Unfortunately, this extremely inexpensive solution does not work well for me at all - it leaves my glassware all cloudy. I have a feeling that our extremely hard water may have something to do with this problem. I've tried out a variety of natural products and found that the one I've been most pleased with is Method Smarty Dish Tablets. The only thing I don't like about them is the price! I started cutting them in half a while ago and have found that half a tablet still has adequate cleaning power for a load of dirty dishes. (Warning: The tablets are VERY hard to cut in half - we use our heavy-duty butcher knife and it still takes a good deal of force to get the job done.)

Dishwashing detergent: Again, I've tried a variety of different products and been less than thrilled with most of them. Right now I'm using Greenworks dish detergent, which works great and is very affordably priced.

Scouring powder: To get those baked-on bits off pots and pans, I simply sprinkle on some baking powder and scrub away

Degreaser: To deal with areas that have a lot of grease buildup (like the stove and range hood), I use a mixture of 2 cups of water and half a cup of Murphy's Oil Soap that I keep handy in a spray bottle.


Tub and sink cleaner: I use a combination of Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap and baking soda. Usually I just sprinkle some baking soda in the tub/sink, squirt a bit of Dr. Bronner's on top, then scrub away with my scrub brush. For more stubborn areas, I mix together the baking soda and soap to form a paste, then apply to the area and scrub with a toothbrush. Dr. Bronner's can be expensive, but a little goes a long way! I also buy the largest size (944 mL), which is a lot cheaper on a per-unit basis. The large bottle costs about $20 and will last me at least a year (and I use it for body wash, too!).

Glass cleaner: I use Crunchy Betty's glass cleaner recipe, which uses basic ingredients you're sure to have around the house.

Toilet: After years of scrubbing away with baking soda and vinegar, I decided I needed something a little more potent as my toilet bowl can get pretty heinous (hey, I live with *3* guys!). I'm using Greenworks toilet bowl cleaner right now, and have been impressed with how well it cleans up the really nasty areas.

Air freshener: During the growing season, I simply put a Mason jar full of mint sprigs on the back of the toilet tank. I might give these homemade gel air fresheners a try once the colder months roll around again!


Detergent: I've been using soap nuts instead of laundry detergent for close to a year now and love them - you can read more details about how I use them here.

Pretreating/Stain Removal: I scrub heavily soiled areas with some Dr. Bronner's before washing. For tougher stains, I make my own "homemade oxiclean" by mixing about half a cup of hydrogen peroxide with a tablespoon of washing soda. Straight hydrogen peroxide can be very effective for removing blood stains (it does have a mild bleaching effect, so be cautious about using it on coloured items).

The rest of the house:

Floors/Baseboards/Doorframes: We have mostly hardwood floors in our home, and I find Murphy's Oil Soap does a great job on them. I also use Murphy's to clean baseboards, doorframes and any furniture that's particularly grotty and needs a deep cleaning.

Furniture polish: I've been looking for a good nontoxic solution for furniture polish for a long time. I'm planning on trying out a homemade beeswax and olive oil polish (4 parts olive oil and 1 part grated beeswax melted together) and really hope I'm satisfied with the results!

Freshening drawers, cupboards and closets: For storage areas that have developed a stale smell, I put a few drops of essential oil on a cotton ball and place it in an unobtrusive area (make sure not to set it on clothing or linens, which the essential oils could stain).

Do you have any favourite natural cleaning products or recipes? Please share them with us!

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