Archive of ‘Green Cleaning’ category

The Clean Out Your Life Project: DIY Counter Cleaner


MYOCountertopcleaner

I ran out of countertop cleaner. So, you that means it’s time to experiment with a new, safe, non-toxic cleaner. I decided that I would make my own countertop cleaner since I had all the ingredients for it in my kitchen already. In fact I can almost guarantee that everyone has the ingredients at home since all you need is vinegar and water. You can add a few drops of tea tree oil for antibacterial benefits, but it’s not required to make the cleaner work so you can skip it if you don’t have it.

The solution is ridiculously easy to make: 50/50 water to vinegar and a few drops tea tree oil if you’re using it. Put the solution to a spray bottle and give it a little shake to make sure it’s mixed well. That. Is. It. So easy!

I’ll be honest, when I made this solution and gave it a try, I was pretty mad at myself for not making it myself years ago. It was easy, cost pennies to make, and took less time than going to to the store to buy a new bottle of cleaner. I’m not sure why I thought it would be hard to make my own cleaning supplies, but I was dead wrong. The lazy girl in me wonders how I didn’t know this much sooner.

After I had my solution mixed it was time to put it to the test.

I was amazed at how easily it cut through the dirt and stickiness on the counters. With a few squirts and a microfiber towel, the counter was clean with a quick wipe down. And these counters were two-day old I’m-pregnant-and-too-tired-to-wipe-down-the-counters-tonight counters. It was impressive.

dirtyandcleancounters

The smell is a bit different from what you’ll be used to if you were using commercial cleaners, but before you know it you won’t notice the difference. I love my homemade cleaner for several reasons: it’s cheap, it works, I’m absolutely not afraid to use it to clean on food surfaces or my daughter’s high chair because I know it’s JUST vinegar and water!

Also, here’s a bit of food for thought as you’re debating if making your own cleaners is the right choice for you, particularly if you’re a housewife or stay at home mom: a 15 year study by the National Cancer association found that women who stay at home or work at home have a 54% higher cancer risk than women who work outside the home. Scary, right? Just do a search for indoor pollution on google if you really want a reason to make the switch.

Next time you’re out and about grab a spray bottle so you’re ready to make your own homemade countertop cleaner when you run out of your store-bought stuff! You won’t regret it!

Does anyone have any other natural ingredients they add to their counter top cleaners that give it an extra kick?

The Clean Out Your Life Project: Shine Your Sink

Today’s mini-project entailed testing out some cream scrub (similar to Soft Scrub), which ended up with me testing out several products you use to clean in and around your sink. This wasn’t necessarily the next cleaning product on my list I wanted to test out, but last night I burnt the heck out of my finger cooking dinner and skipped the dishes to sit with my finger in a bowl of cold water for the night. This resulted in one nasty sink today when I was able to do the dishes.

Here’s the first product for today: Ecover Natural Cream Scrub. I also found it at Natural Grocers, but you can buy it here.

Ecover Natural Cream Scrub

This product has seven ingredients, all that are supposed to be powered by nature. However, I only recognized one on the ingredients list, so I had some research to do. I’ll address each ingredient independently:

  • Aqua: Water. Yay! I knew this one! 😉
  • Calcium Carbonate: Ready for it? It’s Tums. It is a naturally occurring ingredient. While it could be questionable in its use as a tummy helper, as an ingredient in my cleaners…I’m not too worried. If you really want to get scientific about what it is and where it comes from, check out this PDF.
  • Bentonite: I find it slightly funny that this is also an ingredient that can be used for tummy troubles. This one has been used as a laxative. Apparently there are different forms of Bentonite, which is a type of clay, for more on the types and sources check out the every trusty Wikipedia 😉 . Once again, it’s naturally occurring and although I havphoto (30)en’t researched it’s effects as a consumable product (although, Natural News lists it as a safe detox option), as far as cleaning goes, I think we’re in the clear.
  • Glycerin: Although this just gets the Bush song stuck in my head, I’ll tell you the low-down. Once again, this is a consumable ingredient. It’s a naturally occurring substance that is used as a sweetener, in soaps and lotions, medicine. I’m not sure about putting this substance in your body, and again I’ll have to look into that more later, but for a cleaner I think we can say it’s safe. (Thanks, Pioneer Thinking!)
  • Phenoxyethanol: This one scared me. It was long and I couldn’t pronounce it, which is the number one rule against leaving food on the shelf. But, this one is used in cosmetic skin creams and sunscreen, as well as a long list of other bodily uses. It’s an organic compound according to Wikipedia which is used for a preservative. This one I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t put in my body. I’ll let it stick around on my cleaning list for now.
  • Coco-glucoside: This one is caused by a chemical reaction between Glucose & coconut oil derived ingredients according to EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic’s Database.  This is also used in cosmetics and skin care products. Sounds a little nastier than the other ingredients, however, in the cosmetic world it’s apparently know for it’s mildness. A far cry from bleach which is found in many Soft Scrubs.
  • Xanthan Gum: This is found in natural food stores and you eat it. I guess I recognized this one as well, but I wasn’t really sure what it actually was. It caused by the fermentation of a few easily recognized substances: glucose, sucrose, or lactose. Doesn’t it go without saying at this point? Not sure I’d eat it, but for cleaning…let’s test it out!

Okay. Whew. Now that we got the ingredients out-of-the-way, let’s test it out. This is the way my sink looked before I started cleaning. We had Cauliflower crust pizza last night, so cheese and tomato sauce were causing me some problems.

dirtysink

Gross, right? I never want to leave dishes in my sink over night again. I’m tired of cleaning up messes like this! But, if I have to (and I know I will) I need to have a good product to get it clean. So, I got to work and applied a generous amount of the Cream Cleaner as well as some good old-fashioned elbow grease. I did let it sit for a few minutes and then rinsed it off. This was the outcome:

After Natural Cream Cleaner

It was definitely cleaner, but there was still some discoloration. This didn’t pass the test for me of a sink that has been officially shone. (Thank the Fly Lady for this habit. She’s slowly teaching me the skills I need to keep this house free of chaos! Check her out, she’s great!) I got really excited and wanted to try a homemade bleach recipe. However, you need hydrogen peroxide for all of the homemade bleach recipes and we apparently don’t have any. So, I decided to try a mix of the Ecover Cream Scrub, Ecover’s Dishwashing Liquid (I promise I’ll tell you all about this one soon!), and some good old Baking Soda.

Clean Mix

I just squirt a bit of the dishwashing liquid and cream scrub in, add a sprinkle of baking soda, and a splash of water and scrub until the sink is covered. Then I wait 5 minutes. Pretty easy…and it smelled delicious! Citrus from the dishwashing liquid and freshness from the baking soda. I didn’t really notice much of a smell from the cream scrub. Here’s what I got after this combination:

Clean Sink

As you can see, it’s better, but there is still some discoloration. It was clean though. Just discolored. I doubt if you have a stainless steel or darker colored sink you’d have this problem. Our white sink was just causing problems here. Overall, I think the Ecover’s Natural Cream Scrub did almost as good of a job as the Soft Scrub I have used in the past. However, the Soft Scrub had the advantage of having bleach as an ingredient. So, if you take away the bleach, I think it probably did a better job. One of the most noticeable differences: I didn’t have a headache when I was done using this product like I usually do when I’m using Soft Scrub.

Incase you were wondering, I am still singing Glycerine. Now, go shine your sink (as the Fly Lady would say)!

P.S. I also gave my stainless steel faucet a shine while I was waiting for the cleaning supplies to soak with some good old baby oil. I trick I learned from Pinterest a while back: put some baby oil on a rag, rub down the stainless steel and shine it up!

The Clean Out Your Life Project: Furniture Polish

So, obviously life got in the way of my little project I started before the holidays. I got a bit busy with holiday preparation, went out-of-town for Christmas, and then had a family with a nasty stomach bug that’s going around. But, I’m back and read to take on my project!

Today I’m cleaning the living room and getting all the germs out of the room we’re in the most. So, furniture polish is my cleaner of choice today. I found a ready-made version at my local organic food store, Natural Grocers, but you can buy it here. This is what I found:

Furniture Polish

This cleaner by Earth Friendly Products has only 4 ingredients…and only one ingredient I had to look up, which I think is pretty darn good, considering I’ve just started this project and haven’t dug deep into what we need to keep out of our cleaning supplies quite yet.  Here’s the ingredient list:

photo (15)

Pretty simple ingredients, huh? The one that got me was Emulsifier. Turns out that’s just a wetting agent that can come from a variety of sources, many of them plants. So, I feel pretty good about what’s IN this cleaner. How did it stack up on the job?

Turns out it works great! We had a coffee spill in the living room a few weeks back when my husband left his coffee on the entertainment center and we left the house. The dog had a little coffee break when we were gone and left us one heck of a mess when we returned. Coffee was all over the entertainment center, cable box, and stereo from the splash of the cup hitting the floor. That day I cleaned with my normal furniture polish and thought it had done a good job. Well, today when I was scrutinizing the job the Earth Friendly stuff was doing I noticed spots the old polish had left. With a little extra squirt over the spots, they were gone in a single wipe! My furniture is shiny enough to see reflections and I’m a happy camper! I also feel like it went further than the old junk. Once I had a few squirts down on the entertainment center I didn’t need to spray any more cleaner unless there was a stubborn spot, what was on the rag was good enough to do the job. The stuff smelled good too, orange and fresh, nothing chemical or nasty about it.

So, mark that one off the list of things you have to make yourself, this 100% natural cleaner is a winner in my book!

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