Tuesday, December 11, 2012
The basic 10 green cleaners
Stock your cupboards with these ten products, and you can clean just
1) White vinegar: An antifungal that also kills germs and bacteria.
2) Baking soda: Eliminates odors and works as a gentle scouring powder.
3) Borax: Borax, the common name for the natural mineral compound
sodium borate, eliminates odors, removes dirt, and acts as an
antifungal and possible disinfectant. Use with care around children
and pets, as it can be toxic if swallowed.
4) Hydrogen peroxide (3% concentration) : A great nontoxic bleach and
stain remover, as well as a proven disinfectant.
5) Club soda (fresh): A stain remover and polisher.
6) Lemon juice: A pleasant-smelling nontoxic bleach, grease-cutter,
and stain remover.
7) Liquid castile soap: An all-purpose cleaner, grease-cutter, and
disinfectant. "Castile" means the soap is vegetable-based, not animal-
8) Corn meal: Great at picking up carpet spills.
9) Olive oil: Makes a wonderful furniture polish.
10) Pure essential oils: Adding all-natural, organic essential oils
to your cleaning concoctions can add wonderful scents to your
housekeeping endeavors. Some—such as lavender, peppermint,
eucalyptus, lemongrass, and tea tree oils—also may have
antibacterial, antifungal, or insect-repelling properties. To find
pure, organic essential oils, visit your local health food store or
consult the "Aromatherapy/ Essential Oils" category of our National
Green Pages™. Remember to use care with essential oils, as they can
cause harmful reactions when ingested or put directly on the skin.
Some are considered dangerous for pregnant women (To be safe and
simplify things, stick with eucalyptus, lemongrass, and tea tree oils
for all recipes below if you're pregnant).
If you want to try an oil we haven't mentioned in this article, consult
a reliable source on its proper usage, such as the aromatherapy
education section of Frontier Natural Products Co-op's Web site.
The Basic Ten at Work
Now that you know what products you need, grab a few clean, empty
spray bottles; some rags and sponges; and a bucket of water, and
you're ready to clean your house the green way.
All-purpose cleaners: An all-purpose cleaner is just that—something
you can use for just about every surface in your home, from kitchen
counters and appliances to bathroom surfaces and walls. Clean House,
Clean Planet author Karen Logan offers this recipe for the all-
purpose "Alice's Wonder Spray": Put 2 Tbsp. white vinegar and 1 tsp.
borax into a 16 oz. spray bottle. Fill the rest with very hot water
and shake to blend until the borax is dissolved. Add 1/4 cup of
liquid castile soap only after you've completed the above steps. If
you want to scent your spray, also add 10–15 drops of an essential
oil, such as lavender, lemongrass, thyme, eucalyptus, rosemary, rose,
or clove. The spray will keep indefinitely. For an even simpler
solution, try cleaning with two cups of club soda in a spray bottle.
Hard floor cleaner: Author and Care2.com healthy living editor Annie
Bond (a.k.a. Annie Berthold-Bond) recommends this solution for all
hard floors (except when directed by the manufacturer to avoid even
mild detergents): Combine 1/4 liquid castile soap, up to 1/2 cup
white vinegar or lemon juice, and 2 gallons of warm water in a large
plastic bucket. Use with a mop or sponge.
Carpet cleaner: To clean and disinfect your carpet, the CHEC
recommends blending 1/2 cup baking soda, 1 cup borax, and 1 cup
cornmeal. Sprinkle mixture over rug and rub with a cloth. Let rest
for several hours or overnight, then vacuum. To remove stains from
your carpet, Logan advises mixing 1/4 cup liquid castile soap and 1/3
cup water in a blender until foamy. Spread the mixture on the carpet
and let sit for a few minutes, then scrub the stain with a brush or
clean rag. Also, club soda will remove many acidic stains, like
coffee, wine, or juice. To deal with big carpet spills, pour cornmeal
on the spill, wait 15 minutes, then vacuum.
Glass cleaner: To make your windows shine, you can simply use club
soda in a spray bottle. Add 1 tsp. of lemon juice to increase your
window cleaner's degreasing power. Logan recommends using a terry-
cloth cotton rag for best results.
Bathroom surface cleaners: You can use the all-purpose cleaners
recommended above or, for even simpler bathroom cleaning, use baking
soda or borax as a scouring powder. For a softer scrub, Bond says to
combine 1/2 cup baking soda with enough liquid soap to achieve a
frosting-like consistency. You may want to add 5-10 drops of an
essential oil for fragrance. Club soda works wonders on plumbing
Toilet cleaner: Sprinkle baking soda or borax, or pour white vinegar
into the toilet, and let sit for a few minutes. Scrub with a good
toilet brush. oven cleaner: Cover the oven floor with baking soda,
spray with water until very damp, and let set overnight. Spray with
water every few hours before you go to bed to keep damp. In the
morning, clean out the baking soda, and the stuck-on gunk will be
loosened and ready to scrub off.
Mold remover: Bond recommends combining 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide or
white vinegar with 1 cup water. Spray on mold and do not rinse. She
also recommends treating mold with a spray mixture of 2 tsp. tea tree
oil and 2 cups water.
Wood polish: To polish wood furniture, dab olive oil onto a soft
cloth and rub.
Germs and Other Concerns
You may be worried about do-it-yourself green cleaners not being able
to kill germs effectively. Researchers at Tufts New England Medical
Center, on the other hand, worry that we're killing too many
microorganisms, saying that disinfectants found in household cleaners
may contribute to drug resistant bacteria. The CHEC says that
ordinary soap and water do the job well enough to keep our families
safe, barring someone with a seriously compromised immune system.
For most of us, the best way to prevent the spread of harmful
microorganisms is to wash our hands frequently. Also, disinfect any
sponges you're using weekly by boiling them in water for three
minutes and then microwaving them for a minute or two. Launder dish
rags every week.
If you prefer over-the-counter products, look for green cleaners made
with natural ingredients. Check your local health food store, or
consult the box below for screened green cleaning product companies
listed in our National Green Pages™.
—Tracy Fernandez Rysavy
Green cleaning Products:
• Aberdeen Enterprises/ BioGreen—321/ 639-3324.
• American Formulating & Manufacturing (AFM)—800/239- 0321.
• Bi-O-Kleen Industries—800/ 477-0188.
• Citra-Solv, LLC—800/343-6588.
• Descale-It Products Co.—520/294-5676.
• Dr. Bronner's Liquid Soaps—760/743- 2211.
• ECO-Source—613/ 239-4951.
• Ecover—800/449- 4925.
• Gaiam—800/869- 3603.
• Global Balance Co.—617/527-5639.
• Green Planet Products LLC—678/521-0036.
• GreenBulldog. com—601/212- 7580.
• Helyn's Clean Solutions—860/ 871-1808.
• LifeKind Products Inc.—800/284- 4983.
• Mia Rose Products—800/ 292-6339.
• Natural Choices Home Safe Products—866/ 699-2667.
• Naturally Home—888/696- 8113.
• Naturally Yours—888/801- 7347.
• Orbeco—415/647- 0207.
• Rochester Midland Corp.—800/836- 162.
• Seaside Naturals LLC—800/870-1697.
• Seventh Generation—802/ 658-3773.
• Sun & Earth—800/596- 7233, x11.
• Treecycle—406/ 626-0200.
• Vermont Soap Organics—802/ 388-4302.
• Annie B. Bond—Her books Better Basics for the Home (Three Rivers
Press, 1999) and Home Enlightenment (Rodale, 2005) offer plenty of
recipes and advice for green
cleaning and living.
• Care2.com—Find recipes and advice for green cleaning and living on
this site's "Healthy Living" channel, edited by Annie B. Bond.
• The Children's Health Environmental Coalition—310/ 820-2030. A
nonprofit dedicated to educating people about preventable children's
health and developmental problems caused by toxins in their
• Karen Logan's Clean House, Clean Planet—(Pocket Books, 1997).
• Washington Toxics Coalition—206/ 632-1545. A nonprofit working to
protect public health and the environment by eliminating toxic
©2005 Co-op America. All rights reserved.