Green cleaning supplies

heidikayMarch 20, 2007

I'm just started to get interested in buying green cleaning supplies. Does anyone have any favorite brands that they can reccommend? Right now I'm looking at greening the cleanning products. Has anyone tried these?

Here is a link that might be useful: greening the cleaning

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I just got some microfiber cloths from a Home and Garden show. All you need is a spray bottle with water, and you're set! I cleaned all kinds of things around the house, and don't need a refill :) I also have lots of houseplants to help clean the air :) Christy

    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 4:15PM
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I use homemade cleaning products - they are much cheaper and most of the items you may already have at home. I too use microfiber towels. I have a whole stack of them. I use, wash and reuse, them instead of paper towels.

To clean mirrors/windows: water and a little cornstarch

Pretreat clothes: bar of Fels Naptha Soap, or Zote (wet the bar and rub on the stain.

Homemade laundry detergent: 1 c. (grated) of Fels Naptha or Zote, 1/2 c. washing soda and 1/2 c. borax - use 2 T. per load. I've also added 1/2 c. Sun (brand) Oxygen Cleaner.

Homemade scouring powder: 1 c. baking soda, 1 c. borax, 1 c. salt

Liquid Natural Detergent:
1 c. Castile Soap (I use Dr. Bronner's)
1/3 c. salt
1 c. baking soda
1 c. vinegar
40 drops Grapefruit Seed Extract (a natural disinfectant)
To half a gallon of water, add the salt and baking soda which has been melted down over low heat and just enough water to help it dissolve. Add Castile soap and the vinegar. Fill your gallon jug up the rest of the way, and then add Essential oils (if using) and Grapefruit extract. Shake before each use. For tub and tile cleaner, put your solution in a spray bottle and use on your bathroom or kitchen. This can be used anywhere that the all-purpose sprays can be used. I use it for laundry, too.

Disinfectant: 1 qt. water and 30 drops grapefruit seed extract


    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 7:55PM
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OxiClean doesn't advertise as "green", but it breaks down into oxygen and soda ash in water. So unless you wash something without water, it's very eco-friendly. And it's AMAZING. I watched a large, 6-week-old red wine stain dissappear from my roomate's light yellow cotton/linen tablecloth when she soaked it in a bucket of this for a few days.

Baking soda on its own is also wildly under-rated. I've done great things to old coffee mugs and kitchen surfaces with a paste of this and a little water.

Lots of plants also helps, so long as you can keep them all dusted.

Here is a link that might be useful: OxiClean

    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 9:10PM
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I have a question for grainlady..where do you find these products? Sun Oxygen Cleaner? Castile soap? and especially Grapefruit Seed Extract?? Must be a large container if you need 40 drops?

Also can you recommend a book on this subject? Where did you learn all this re: cleaning products.

A side note..I used your excellent advice to clean my inside windows..used the cornstarch/ water. Cleaned great and no streaks! Where do you get the tools (scrubber/ rubber blade) to use on the windows?

I appreciate all the advice on this thread..happy Green Cleaning!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 2:36PM
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Really, soap, water, vinegar and baking soda are really all you need to do most cleaning unless it is exceptionally greasy like motor oil.

Use baking soda in the washing machine if you have hard water. Your soap will work better and you will need less. Wiping things daily will decrease the need for a great deal of cleaning. Microfiber cloths are really good for removing fingerprints and grime without any soap.

Don't be fooled into buying those products you linked. Just get some good quality spray bottles and make up small amount of solutions with vinegar.

Castile soap has been around forever. It's on my laundry isle. Check yours. Also, check your library for old fashioned cleaning ideas. Usually in the housekeeping or organizing sections.

Good luck. Once you start cleaning by common sense rather than commercial stuff, you'll be amazed how clean and nice smelling your home remains.


Here is a link that might be useful: natural cleaning on amazon

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 5:40PM
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gardenator - Glad to hear the water/cornstarch window cleaner worked for you. We just love it. You can find the squeegee/cleaner thingy in the broom/mop area, or look in the car care department. It's similar to the ones you use at the gas station to wash your car windows.

I've been using "Grandma's" cleaning hints for years - most were used at home, or I read about them in any number of books, magazines, etc. Soda, vinegar, salt, alcohol, ammonia, lemon juice, etc. were all used for many years before Mr. Clean came along.

Most of our toxic cleaners came about from WWII chemical experiments. They would have product "X" leftover, and decided they could make it into soap/cleaner/polish, etc. Prior to post-WWII, homemade soap was about all the cleaning power you needed for everything from laundry to floors, and in the bath. Natural waxes (bee's wax and others) were used to polish wood and floors. You could polish silver with ashes from the fire. Hydrogen peroxide and/or cold water for blood stains. You made your own starch for clothes with cornstarch and water. Stains caused by fat were removed by rubbing in some salt. Lots of homemade, easy-on-the-pocketbook, AND the environment, cleaners have been used for eons.

-Sun Oxygen Cleaner is similar to OxiClean (see link in jane d's post above). It's a less-expensive brand from the Dollar General Store.

-Castile Soap comes in both liquid (Dr. Bronner's) and bar (Kirk's - used for bathing in hardwater) - there are other brands. I can always find these at my local health food store - you can also find them on-line. I usually purchase a quart of Dr. Bronner's a year - Google it and you'll find out all about it - lots of uses for Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap. They have small bottles that you could purchase to see if you like it before investing in a larger quantity.

-Grapefruit Seed Extract is also available from most health food stores (or, Google for best price). The first bottle that I purchased was NutriBiotic GSE - 2 fl. oz. (59 ml) for $12.99, and it lasted a very long time. One teaspoon = 60 drops of the thick fluid = 5 ml. I eventually purchased the "Economy Size" (1-quart or 946 ml), which will last a "lifetime", but was nearly the same price as the small bottle, when I found it on sale, on-line.

Grapefruit Seed Extract has many uses - Google it if you are interested. It has a very interesting history.

-No book necessary on this subject, although there are lots out there (check your local library). Try a Google search on - Natural Homemade Cleaners. You'll find endless recipes and information. Some work, and some won't. Some of them you'll like, and others you won't. I know I have a thick file of clippings, brochures, things printed off the internet, etc., on the subject.

Check the commercial "natural" cleaners and see what they are using for ingredients - same stuff you already have at home.... Here are the ingredients in one "natural" cleaner ($6.99 for 32 fl. oz.): Filtered water, vinegar, alcohol (from grain), a blend of pure essential oils, borax (sodium borate, a mineral salt) if scented and a naturally derived cleaning agent (vegetable-based surfactant).

That's just a whole lot of money for some very inexpensive household products combined into one bottle. You could have made it yourself and put it in a recycled spritz bottle for pennies.

The "naturally derived cleaning agent (in the above commercial all-purpose cleaner) - vegetable-based surfactant" can be any number of things. I would use "Nature's Sunshine Concentrate" as the surfactant if making this cleaner (only available from a Nature's Sunshine Distributor), which I get from my local health food store/herb shop. Without getting into the science, a surfactant makes water wetter by breaking down the surface tension. Essentially, the ingredients will stay in suspension better if a surfactant is included.

-Borax is available in the laundry soap isle by the name "Twenty Mule Team Borax". On the back of the box it gives tips for using it for cleaning and various other uses.

-Washing Soda (Arm & Hammer) is usually available in the laundry isle. It's different from Arm & Hammer Baking Soda. But as jane d pointed out, good old Baking Soda is an under-rated cleaner. Check the Arm & Hammer web site for more hints and information about uses.

I purchase 2-gallons of vinegar (in a box) at Sam's club for around $3. I use 1/4 c. in my washing machine, instead of fabric softener - eliminating yet one more toxic product.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 6:16PM
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Thank you for so much information! I will print and use all of these tips!! You are very kind to return so quickly..I will now be out making my green-clean kit!

Gardenator :)

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 7:11PM
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There are a lot of references to natural cleaning supplies in "Mary Ellen's Book of Helpful Hints." This is stuff you have all over your house. I love this book. My Mom had it when I was a little girl, and it is still as popular today. Sooooo many helpful hints about anything and everything from beauty tips to household hints.

I also want to second the vote for Oxy Clean. Got the red wine stains out of my $4k wedding gown. Looks good as new and never harmed the fabric. I add a scoop to all of my laundry (except black and red loads).

I also use "Simple Green" products from Home Depot (or just about any hardware or grocery store) - non-toxic and environmentally friendly.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 11:37AM
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I also like to "clean green."

I've been using vinegar and water on my inside windows. The windows look clean enough and have no streaks when I'm done, but I also feel like I'm using too much elbow grease to get out finger prints and residue/accumulation from household air.

I've heard of adding some cornstarch, alcohol, or various soaps. Has anyone done any side-by-side tests? Place your vote now!

    Bookmark   December 16, 2007 at 2:57PM
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I wouldn't buy anything from that first company mentioned, as it is owned by Don Imus. As mentioned, vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice and salt will do it all.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2007 at 9:55AM
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I use the Greening the Cleaning window cleaner and it's the best one I've ever had. No noxious odor when you spray and it cleans great. And yes, it's owned by the Imus foundation, but you should read about it before condemning the products due to his association to them. GTC is part of a nonprofit corp. that runs a ranch for kids with cancer. His wife had done a lot of work in trying to get hospitals to switch to green cleaning because the last thing sick kids need is more chemicals in their system.
Anyway, don't forget the power of tea tree oil. I read that a group is trying to list it with the EPA as a disinfectant. I put it in my vinegar/water general cleaning bottle for some extra disinfecting.
If you are trying to change to green cleaning check out your local stores. I get my laundry detergent (ECOS) at Costco. I think a lot of stores see the change to natural cleaners coming and they are trying to keep up.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2007 at 9:16AM
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I justed wanted to bump this post back to the top because of the green cleaning discussion. I found it really helpful.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 12:04PM
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I use Greening The Cleaning supplies and I love them !! Now they are even sold at my local Shaw's supermarket and at Bed Bath and Beyond (or Linens and Things- can't remember which one as I stock up when I go to the market).These products are what turned me on to greener cleaning. I use both the all - purpose and the glass cleaner. They both work great. I developed asthma as an adult and this all natural cleaner doesn't trigger my asthma at all. The cleaners have a beautiful, natural scent. An added bonus - all the proceeds go to kids with cancer.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 8:49PM
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Okay, I'm late in chiming in on this, but I wanted to thank Grainlady for the great cornstarch and water recipe for cleaning windows.

I've been trying a lot of the suggestions on this forum for the past several weeks at our mountain house -- some have worked okay others not much. But, I was relaxing on the deck on Saturday, noticing how dirty the windows had become in just a few weeks. Rather than get my bucket and squeegy out, I remembered I brought some cornstarch for cooking with me. So, I mixed up a spray bottle of the cleaner and thought I'd give it a try. Wow! What great results. I know others have been pleased with it as well.

I've seen several variations on the recipe on this Forum and on the web (some including ammonia or vinegar) but I used just plain ol' cornstarch and water, a rag and a microfiber cloth. My windows look great!

My other weekend experiment was using club soda to spray down the counters and bathroom sinks/taps. Since my surfaces don't get very dirty, I just wanted something to help shine them up a little bit -- the club soda worked wonderfully! Everything was gleaming at the end of the day.

Thanks to everyone for posting such great suggestions.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 12:39PM
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I found this thread so interesting!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 10:58PM
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Me too! grainlady and everyone else: what is your opinion of the Mrs. Myers products? Prefer making your own solutions?

I hope this post doesn't expire. We should be able to search for it if we want it, right?
Thank you.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2009 at 11:48PM
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People are going to be suspicious of a link to a product from someone who registered the same day.

Regarding the Mrs Meyer's products I think they are a scam. They are made by a big corporation and there is no "Mrs Meyer" just like there never was a "Betty Crocker".

The soaps contain 1,4-Dioxane " which is considered a chemical "known to the State of California to cause cancer under Proposition 65 and is also suspected as a kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant, among others, according to the California EPA."

The Mrs. Meyer's website touts that the ingredients are "derived from corn" but then again, so is the gas we put into our autos. They admit they use synthetics in their products. They admit they use sodium laureth sulfate. They say they don't test their products on animals but they DO buy ingredients for their products that have been tested on animals.

For general cleaning; vinegar, baking soda, and plain 'ol soap are just fine and way cheaper.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mrs. Meyer's

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 11:20PM
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All of you who use baking soda or vinegar to clean must have really clean houses to begin with. I decided to switch to environmentally safer products several years ago. I tried baking soda and then vinegar and they sure didn't get my floors clean nor did they get rid of the soap scum in my shower.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2010 at 12:24PM
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I've had great luck with Seventh Generation products. While I wouldn't put them in the bare minimum "natural" catagory (ie. only using vinegar/baking soda), their products do work and are low impact to the environment. I also haven't had any issues with my sensitive skin or allergies (I cannot use heavily scented products).

I've tried some of the other "natural" products on the market, but haven't been as happy with them. I'm also too lazy to mix up my own cleaners.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 12:34PM
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This thread is such an eye opener. Or more like a slap along the side of the head for me. Other than the cornstarch for my windows (been doing that for years) I had completely forgotten about many of these cleaning products.
I was out of Shout the other day when I wanted to pre- treat my grand daughters softball pants. I just happened to find a dried up bar of Fels Naptha soap in my laundry room cabinet. I also put white vinegar in my Downey ball in place of fabric softener with every load. So I guess I am following some basic green cleaning ideas.
I thank you everyone (especially grainlady) for all the reminders and recipes.
Its been years since I have made my own laundry detergent, might have to try it again when I run out of ECOS.
Now if I could just get my husband to do the cleaning around her I could spend more time on these discussion boards.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 3:00PM
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The only dish soap I�ll ever use (and I�ve tried them all) is Called "Mrs. Meyer's, Clean day" the blue bell sent is my latest fav. And last Christmas I sent the limited seasonal edition "pine something to my parents and yes my dad loved it! Trust me if you�re doing dishes by hand this soap will actually makes it enjoyable!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 9:28AM
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