Natural or green way to disinfect bathroom

kristimamaAugust 23, 2009

Hi everyone,

I'm gradually shifting towards more natural cleaning materials but can't convince my husband to stop using the stronger stuff in the bathroom because of the germ factor.

Can you recommend some greener or less toxic alternatives (maybe even some home brews) that would be good at disinfecting without being so toxic?

--Toilets, he's still using softscrub with bleach. OMG do I hate that stuff, but I don't know what else cleans and disinfects as well.

--Clorox or the pinesol wipes (then rinsed) for the ceramic tile floors and other flat surfaces like around the toilet seat, etc.

--We also have a slab marble countertop in the bathroom and haven't found anything that really "disinfects" stone... so we use a little antibacterial palmolive liquid on a sponge then wipe it shiny with Method's new stone cleaner and microfiber cloth. But I'd rather just have one step instead of two on the counters.

Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer!


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If I could find a husband willing to clean a toilet, I would let him use Agent Orange if he wanted.

Seriously, though, every cleaner is going to disinfect and none are going to totally disinfect. All you are really doing is cleaning and that's all you need to do. The most important change you could make is in your thinking about the need to disinfect bathroom surfaces.

You sound like a prime candidate for a vapor cleaner (steam machine). There are lots of threads on this forum about steamers. I have one and love it.

In the meantime, if you want to get down to just one product on the countertop, clean it with a moist microfiber cloth and/or the Method stone cleaner. Skip the antibacterial soap - it's not an operating room.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 9:32AM
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Hi Graywings, thanks for your reply and I think I understand where you're coming from since so many Americans are caught up with the idea of disinfecting everything.

But please understand where I'm coming from before you assume I'm trying to turn my bathroom into a sterile operating room. I have two small children with kidney conditions and some immune system challenges, and the toilet and sink areas are the most germy of a household. So if I actually want to use something that is going to kill the most common things such as influenza, strep, ecoli, and salmonella, then that's my choice. (Believe me, the rest of my house is a cluttered dusty mess but the toilet and sink need to be fairly reliably germ-free.) And FYI, we don't actually use antibacterial soap for hands.

So if someone here has some natural, eco, biodegradable (whatever you want to call it) recommendations for ways to kill those nasty germs so I can stop using softscrub and lysol, I'd appreciate it. Please try not to judge me or explain to me why that objective isn't a reasonable one.


    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 9:51PM
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Hi Kristimama,
I thought I'd give you some of the things I have been using. First, I have absolutely loved my Lotus Sanitizing System -- you can read reviews and threads on Gardenweb about them. Some people love them; others hate them. I personally have had good luck since I got the upgraded model (I wouldn't recommend the LBU100 standard model as it's had a lot of problems). The machine ozonates water which makes it a sanitizer/disinfectant. Since you're just using 'water' to clean -- it's friendlier to you and the environment. I spray down my bathroom surfaces -- let them sit for about 5-10 minutes, then follow-up with a microfiber towel. It leaves everything shiny and clean. There's no smell and no chemicals to worry about. You can safely use it around kids and pets.

The downside is that the product is expensive. The base model is over $100 and the higher-end model is about $150. Once I got a model that works as it should, I've come to rely on it and use it in the kitchen and bathroom daily. It is registered with the EPA and FDA as an approved food surface sanitizer.

The other suggestions is to try a vinegar/water mixture with Tea Tree Oil added to it (about 20 drops). Tea Tree is a natural germicide and has mild disinfecting properties -- probably enough to get the troublesome germs out of the bathroom. There's lot of recipes for non-toxic cleaners on this site and you sometimes have to experiment to find one that works for you. For example, a lot of recipes call to add vinegar and baking soda with tea tree oil. I find that solution to leave a white film on everything if you don't rinse well, so I don't like using it.

There are also a few new disinfectants on the market that are safer than traditional chemistry options. You can Google them to find out more. I tried one, PureGreen24, but found that it left everything kind of 'sticky.'

The most important thing to remember when cleaning is that you're trying to remove as much dirt as possible. Not all cleaners are disinfectants. Regular maintenance cleaning will leave a surface sanitary (meaning most of the dirt and germs are gone). If you want that true extra step of disinfection, you must use an EPA registered disinfectant--most of which require proper application and safety handling instructions.

I'm attaching a link on some of the FAQs of disinfecting. Hope it helps!

Here is a link that might be useful: Soap & Detergent Association FAQ

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 11:04PM
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There are some natural ingredients that will kill germs, bacterias, etc. There is Grapefruit seed extract. There is also eucalyptus oil and tea tree oil. You could mix one of these with water to disinfect or add some other ingredients like washing soda, vinegar, borax and castile soap for a cleaner.

I would suggest that you do a search and find out all the different uses for these natural ingredients. The grapefruit seed extract, eucalyptus oil, and tea tree oil can be found in health food stores.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2009 at 4:59AM
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kristimama - I am not judging you, and it sounds like you have good reasons for an extra effort at cleanliness throughout your house.

However, I do question the statement that the toilet and sink areas are the most germy of a household. And whether those areas require any additional cleaning beyond soap and water (which, by the process of rubbing and rinsing is "antibacterial"), even for immune compromised children. The children sit on the toilet, then wash their hands and walk out of the room. It is the hand washing that is protecting their immune systems from anything in the bathroom. Your kids are not going to get sick from using your own bathroom.

In any event, my advice is the same: get a vapor cleaner. It is the most basic kind of sanitation because you are sanitizing with boiling water. And the greenest too, because it is just plain water.

I'm going to link to a couple of sites. Unfortunately, I can't find the site I am looking for, but here are several to get you started:

    Bookmark   August 25, 2009 at 10:37AM
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Thank you Cohoss and others for your suggestions. I'm not too excited about the steam cleaning idea... I'm more looking for brand name recommendations or specific recipes for cleaning mixes that would do the trick. I'll look into the vinegar mixes, though... as I'm starting to use that more around the house and laundry.

I've looked at Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyer's products but they just say they "clean" surfaces. Maybe I've been brainwashed by big petro-chemical advertising, but when I see the word "cleaning" I think of that as removing the dirt but not necessarily that it's strong enough to eliminate bacteria and viruses. I'll have to google that some more and rethink it.

Graywings, perhaps you don't have small children in the house? Three year olds don't exactly "...sit on the toilet, then wash their hands and walk out of the room." They sit, touch the toilet seat, put a finger in their nose, then their mouth, then they touch the toilet seat again, then they climb down (while touching the toilet seat) and put their hand in their nose again, and most of the time (if supervised) wash their hands but sometimes they leave the bathroom and start playing before being reminded to wash their hands. So it's not quite as simple as you seem to describe it.

And frankly, your tone is a bit rude: "your children are not going to get sick from using your own bathroom." Actually, they can, and it's not because of my children's illness. If one family member were to have a stomach virus, and another family member wasn't using proper hygeine in the washroom, those germs would pass rather quickly.

I believe I was asking for eco-friendly brands I could use to spray in my bathroom, and not for someone to imply that my cleaning goals weren't valid.

Have a nice day, folks.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2009 at 12:25PM
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