What are some good green cleaners?

msroseJanuary 15, 2012

This kind of goes along with jillinnj's post. I was recently diagnosed with cancer of the small intestine. Luckily, they think they removed it all, but it has me wanting to change some things in my life and one is the type of cleaners I use. I figured if the cleaner I use in the shower makes me cough and my eyes water, then what could it be doing to the inside of my body? I've tried vinegar in the past, but I hate the smell. Can the more safe/natural cleaners really do the job? What are some of your favorites? I just saw a add in one of my magazines for Mrs. Meyers. Any one tried it? Dr. Oz said his favorite was Shaklee Basic H, but I found a list of "safe" cleaners on the EPA website (which was also mentioned on Dr. Oz) and Shaklee isn't listed. I don't know if that means it's not good or if it's just not one they tested. I'm overwhelmed by the amount of products listed on their website, so I figured I would ask you guys about your favorites.

Laurie

Here is a link that might be useful: EPA's list of safe cleaners

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cyn427

Baking soda is a great cleaner and safe to use. I also use baking soda and vinegar in my drains. I make my own window cleaner with vinegar, ammonia (clear, not sudsy), and water. Not sure how green that is, but it doesn't leave any streaks and is cheap to make: one cup each to half a bucket of water. I make it when I have a lot to clean and then also put some in a couple of spray bottles to keep for quick jobs like bathroom mirrors and touch ups. I didn't look at the list yet since I figure I can make my own less expensively, but will check it out now. Thanks for posting it!

So glad to hear that your surgery went well and I'm sending good energy for your continued improving health!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 12:13PM
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juliekcmo

I have many allergies, and cleaners are one of my primary triggers. I also have problems with fragrances, and need to avoid them.

By and large, avoid sprays as much as possible, because you have to eventually breathe them in.

I adore Bon Ami scouring powder. You can use it without gloves.

Dr Bonners liquid soap (natural, comes unscented and also scented with essential oils) is fantastic for washing woodwork, floor, and also the dog! This stuff cuts dirt like nobody's business, and I don't need to wear gloves.

Also I find that 7th generation free and clear products are very good. Their glass and surface cleaner is fragrance free and works well. I use this where most people would use windex.

I also use their dish soap (free and clear).

Hope you are feeling better.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 12:43PM
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cyn427

Julie, I think the main ingredient in Bon Ami is baking soda. If so, you can just use the stuff from Arm and Hammer!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 1:25PM
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jillinnj

I second what Julie said. I do not like fragrances in my cleaning products, but I don't like fragrances in much of anything. Don't wear perfume, cannot stand scented candles, don't like scented moisturizers, etc. I like the Seventh Generation products a lot. I also like the company philosophy which is to save the earth. The company is very happy to tell you how to make your own products for less $$ than their own products. I like the attitude of trying to save the planet and not just make a quick dollar.

I also like Bon Ami. That stuff is great. It's not expensive. Doesn't scratch and cleans great.

The only thing I have not found a good non-toxic cleaner for is the mold that grows in the shower. When I clean that, I open the windows, spray the shower, close the door, and run. I really hate it, but I also hate the mold. If anyone has a good solution for this, I'm all ears.

The other thing we do is try to eat all natural and organic when we can. It's much easier to do these days than it used to be. Even the regular grocery stores have large (and growing) amounts of all natural and organic foods. And, unlike the old days, they are as good or better than the chemical filled foods!

Happy to hear your cancer was caught and removed. Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 3:11PM
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cyn427

Jill, wipe down (dry off) the walls and caulked areas after your shower. That should help if you have a mold problem.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 3:34PM
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natal

I use white vinegar and water for cleaning hardwood floors & windows, baking soda for cleaning the kitchen sink & toilet bowl, and Mrs. Meyer's for hand-washing dishes.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 6:17PM
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HIWTHI

I use Vodka and water w/ a drop of liquid soap to clean windows, wipe down anything that is glass. I use a microfibre cloth.

I don't use rubbing alcohol because the fumes are toxic to your lungs.

I use baking soda and Mr. Clean sponge to clean SS sink.

I use vinegar, water and a touch of soap for the laminate floors.

I use vinegar instead of fabric softener and if I want more softness I add baking soda to the wash water and a wet cloth with hair conditioner on it to toss into the dryer.

I hate things with strong perfume smells. When my neighbor does her laundry with Gain, I have to come inside so I can't smell the dryer vent putting out that sweet smell. If I want fragrance, I use my own lavender or spearmint essential oil.

I'll never forget when I was in the hospital, a nurse came to tend to me and she had on some musky/sweet perfume that literally took my breath away. Here she was standing over me and I couldn't breathe. I finally had to say something to her about it. I find a lot of medical personnel slather on lotions and perfumes that are too strong. I guess they don't realize the affect they are having on some patients.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 7:41PM
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hhireno

msrose,
I'm sorry to read about your recent diagnosis, because it's never pleasant to deal with that particular word. But good for you for being proactive and finding a new way to deal with things you can control.

I don't have any green advice but, thanks to your inquiry, I will make a note of these methods.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 9:10PM
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anele_gw

Once I got pregnant with my 1st child, I made the same switch-- I figured it was not healthy for me to be breathing in fumes.

Back then I used to make my own cleaners, but I did use vinegar in my recipes, so I won't suggest that. Now I use Mrs. Meyers. I have a big bottle of her all-purpose cleaner that is concentrated, so I mix my own in bottles. It has lasted a LONG time.

Like Jill, the only problem I have is with mold. That is something I still use bleach for. My DH is the one who takes showers every a.m. and it'd be up to him to wipe it down . . .he won't. We also have to wash our shower curtain with bleach (in the washing machine). Wish I could find another solution (ha, ha), because I hate bleach!

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 9:03AM
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xantippe

I use Method granite spray for our counters--it smells great and cleans great.

For all other surfaces, I use a product by Trader Joe's, scented with essential oils. It used to be called "Trader Zen" (which we still call it), but is now called "Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness". It's amazing stuff. When I use it at work, co-workers end up buying themselves their own bottles--they love it!

I use Mrs. Meyers dish soaps for hand washing dishes, also scented with real essential oils.

A couple years ago I started researching natural beauty products, and learned how bad artificial fragrances are. Alas, lots of "natural" products use artificial fragrances. If you want to see what I mean, you can check out Skin Deep, an online database about beauty products. But only read it if you're feeling brave; you may discover terrible things about your favorite products. Reading this database is what made me switch to completely different shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hair gel, moisturizer and face wash--an expensive and irritating process, to be sure! But the end result has been worth it. I have never been more pleased with how my skin and hair look and feel.

Here is a link that might be useful: Skin Deep

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 10:54AM
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cyn427

anele, if your DH "won't" wipe down the shower, then I would let him know it is up to him to clean away the mold! ;) Seriously. Not to hijack, but what is it with so many men who won't do things like this, but expect wives to deal with the consequences? So irritating to me.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 11:14AM
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anele_gw

cyn, ha, ha, he is actually the one to use the bleach. It may have been temporary, though-- it was when I was pregnant that he did it!

But yeah, pretty much everything is up to me cleaning-wise. There are many cleaning chores that I can do with a newborn, but many I cannot. Anything that involves a lot of bending or carrying big items up/down stairs (like laundry) is a lot harder. What I notice is that when I have the baby, she is either nursing (and I'm here!) or she is in my carrier and I'm busy. When he's holding her, I get a ton done. When I have her. . .well, let's just say that I still see the work left for me to do.

I have two jobs, too. I am with the kids during the day, and at night I work from home doing paid work. So, there is not a lot of time for me to do the cleaning when he's home, so if he doesn't do it, it's VERY hard.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 11:30AM
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cyn427

Anele, you deserve a standing ovation! I am way past that stage, but it still irks me that no matter how "enlightened" a husband seems at first (before marriage), there is someting that changes and we become the ones doing most of the housework. I hope you are able to "train" him (ack-can't believe I put it that way, but still...) now, so the future years are more equitable!

Oh, and quit looking at all there is left to do!!!! ;)

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 11:47AM
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jillinnj

I agree with cyn! It annoys me to no end when men just assume it's the woman's job to do the cleaning. Especially when the woman also works. I am so thankful that my DH does not feel that way. I do most of the cleaning but it's my problem, not his. I am very picky about how it gets done and the results, so I'm happier just doing it myself. However, DH does anything I ask him to do. He has his weekly chores (dusting downstairs and vacuuming steps) and will do anything else I ask him do without any complaining. Love that!

I also hate bleach but have to use it when washing the shower curtain liner. I've tried the non-chlorine bleaches but they don't get the mold out.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 1:36PM
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olliesmom

I've been using Martha Stewart's glass cleaner, and it is wonderful! Much better than Windex! I haven't tried any of her other products, but I have heard good and bad about them. But, the glass cleaner is phenomenal!

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 5:34PM
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msrose

Thanks everyone. I'm going to print this post, so I can keep track of all the good ideas.

My "ex" husband would never wipe down the shower either :)

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 8:10PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

Here is a link to a book I recently purchased for instructions on making less toxic house cleaners. Most cleaners involve just vinegar, castile soap, baking soda and washing soda. There are more advanced recipes as well for things like soap, furniture polish, etc. but I have not dabbled with them yet.

Here is a link that might be useful: Making It

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 9:03PM
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judithn

I totally second the vote for Dr. Bronners. I actually mix a squirt of Dr. Bronners with water and mix it up in a spray bottle. It makes a slightly milky looking liquid that is AWESOME on wood table tops. I think the castile soap is slightly oily, works as well if not better than Murphy's and totally organic and fragrance/chemical free. I use the Dr. Bronner's bar soaps in the showers. For the personal care uses I get the lavender scented one (it's scented with essential oils, no chemical fragrance). For the cleaning uses I get the peppermint or tea tree oil scents.

I use baking soda for a dozen things. Sink scrubbing, make a paste of it and Dr. Bronners and use a toothbrush to get the mold off the shower grout. We don't use anything artificially fragranced (pthalates in fragrance, among other things).

I like Seventh Generation too. Funny that everyone mentions the shower mold that can't be killed. It's a problem I have too and I haven't figure it out.

By the way, there are loads of natural remedies for household bug and pest problems online. Some of them work as well as chemical fixes and are totally safe for people and pets, not to mentioned cheaper.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 10:57PM
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msrose

Do you think there's a difference in microfiber cloths? Someone on another messageboard mentioned Trasan microfiber cloths being the best and that they just use water and their cloth for alot of cleaning.

Here is a link that might be useful: Trasan microfiber cloths

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 3:34PM
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msrose

jillinnj - Where do you buy Bon Ami. I know I've used it in the past, but I checked Target and Walmart and neither one had it. Maybe I need to check the grocery stores. I did see BarKeepers Friend, which I've also used in the past. I wonder if it's similar.

I bought 7th Generation Bathroom Cleaner in Lemongrass & Thyme Scent the other day. I only saw that it said lemongrass and thought it would have a nice lemony scent, but the thyme is the dominant scent. I cleaned my kitchen with it and it smelled more like I'd been cooking than cleaning :)

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 10:45AM
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bestyears

I was using Method products for quite awhile before I realized they were nontoxic, etc. Somehow, that part of their marketing just flew past me. Then I happened to catch an interview with the founders one day and the lightbulb went on LOL.... I love their stuff, and it just seems easy to me to stick to one line instead of trying to search out a green product for each need.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 3:11PM
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msrose

bestyears - Do you find Method at Walmart & Target?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 3:28PM
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bestyears

Yes, and i think Lowes too.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 4:21PM
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jillinnj

msrose - I get Bon Ami at the grocery store. It's next to comet and ajax.

I've always been intrigued by the method cleaners. Their bottles sure are pretty. But, they seem to be a lot more expensive than other all natural cleaners so I haven't tried them.

I try not to buy the all natural cleaners from companies that have been making toxic cleaners for a million years. I don't know, it just bothers me that all of a sudden because there is a $ to be made, they've jumped on the all natural band wagon. If you think it's such a good idea, why haven't you been doing it all along!? I'm probably being silly, but it bugs me.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 6:22PM
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jillinnj

I didn't mean to imply that Method is made by company that made toxic cleaners. Re-reading my post it sounded that way. I just went off on that little tangent because for some reason I was thinking about it today.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 6:25PM
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grapeleaves

oxygen bleach will get rid of the black mold in showers.
oxyclean is 1/2 washing soda. Ecover is pure oxygen bleach no fillers and so it would work better than oxyclean

mix it in hot water. dip cotton balls in the solution and lay them on the grout where it is black and leave for a few hours.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 8:59PM
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msrose

jillinnj - I completely understand. I can't remember the name, but I noticed one "natural" cleaner that was by Clorox and I almost felt like I didn't trust that it was really safe. I'm sure it is, but I also felt like they're just jumping on the bandwagon to make money and it's not something they're passionate about like some of the other companies. I did pick up a couple of the Method cleaners at Target. I've never even noticed them before and I'm not sure I would have known they were safe cleaners even if I had seen them.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 9:06PM
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sis3

I have found the best way to have sparkling streak free glass in the shower or the windows, inside or out, and scum free ceramic wall tiles, sink basins and chrome fittings is.....dryer sheets! I reuse USED ones, just wet them and smear them all over the glass etc. (Mine always have enough of the soapy stuff left in them to make the glass smeary.) Leave a minute or two, rinse with clean water and dry and polish with scrunched up newspaper. Perfectly clean, sparkling and free as everything is recycled.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 3:46PM
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camlan

I use Simple Green as a all-purpose cleaner. It's non-toxic, although I couldn't find it on the linked site. You can use it full strength for some jobs and dilute it down for things like washing windows. It is fantastic at cutting grease and oil--use it full strength on oil spots on garage floors.

Barkeeper's Friend is similar to Bon Ami, but a tiny bit more likely to scratch things. Bon Ami is gentler.

For things that just have to be clean (as opposed to sanitized), microfiber cloths do a great job with just water. If you need to polish up chrome or stainless, they are fantastic. Use two to wash windows. One wet to clean, one dry to dry the window and keep it streak-free. No chemicals at all.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 10:40AM
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Boopadaboo

I am really struggling with this. I do have cleaners that come to the house. I can not stand coming home the day they clean. The house smells atrocious. I realize we have hard water but I hate the thought of my kids breathing that in.

I bought some natural cleaners and they basically say they are terrible and dotn want to use them.

I had my cart filled with Mrs Meyers to give that a shot and then I looked them up on the site below and they did not fair too well.

This is kind of an old thread. Any more recent recommendations? Maybe Mrs meyers is at least better than tilex?

Here is a link that might be useful: EWG 2012 cleaning products results

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 11:46AM
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