Monday, February 20, 2006

Green House Cleaning (Natural House Cleaning)

When I started using more environmentally friendly products many years ago, I found that one of the hardest things to find were good natural house cleaning products. Not only were they expensive and hard to find but half the time they didn't work very well! I often just used the conventional stuff, until I slowly researched and made some of my own products, or finally found natural brands that worked. Nowadays things are different as more products are readily available, companies are producing better products, and the prices have really gone down!

I've found that some of my favorites still are the ones I make: they are simple to make and use and are highly effective, not to mention light on the wallet! Here are a few of my favorite books on the topics to make your own green cleaning products!

Books on how to make your own non-toxic cleaners, including basic information on toxic chems:

Clean House, Clean Planet by Karen Logan. Great overall book: it has many recipes on how to make all types of products, information on why to switch to natural, dangers of common chemicals, and how effective her natural recipes are compared to commercial chemical brands. She also lists how much money you can save by making your own products (since the book was written in 1997, the price comparisons may be a little dated, but you will save money). An important thing she notes, is that you often how to add the ingredients in a specific order so that the cleanser will work.

Clean and green: the Complete Guide to Non-toxic and Environmentally Safe Housekeeping by Annie Berthold-Bond. Sim to above; lots of good non-toxic, earth friendly recipes and information.

It's So Natural by Alan Hayes. More than just cleaning, this book has a lot of information on all kinds of environmentally friendly hints from cleaning to skin/hair care/health to garden tips. Highly recommended. Check out Hayes' website

Since I'm a busy graduate student I don't always have time to make my own and sometimes prefer to buy products from the store or online. These are some of my favorite cleaners and brands. Natural products may be a little more expensive than conventional, however, I've found that natural products are often more highly concentrated than convetional products (read: less water in them) so you really use a lot less. Not to mention it's not only better for the planet (since it's biodegradable) but healthier for you and your family!


For a great 100% natural all-Purpose Household Cleanser try Aubrey Organics Earth Aware Household Cleanser (made with soap, soap bark extract, and herbs). I love to use this to clean my counters and my tub out. It does not leave a residue! I didn't care for using it too much for laundry (since it has orange essential oil in it, and that's a solvent) but you could use it for that. It comes in a big 32 oz jug that's under $7. They also have a Liquid Sparkle Spray Cleanser. Haven't seen it in the stores, but it's available online.

Another good 100% natural and organic cleaner is Vermont Soap's Liquid Sunshine (made with soap). You can use it for stain removal, general cleaning, dishwashing soap, etc. They recommend it for laundry too, but since it has orange essential oil I'd do a test patch on your clothes first just to be sure. I am not sure if the formula is similiar to their aloe castille liquid soap with sweet orange or not (the ingredients look the same) but they are the same price so it probably doesn't matter which one you get. (I usually make my own recipes with their aloe castille liquid soap; or you could use Dr. Bronner's). Vt. Soap also has a veggie wash, and a yoga mat cleaner.

Earth Friendly Products are really good too. "Natural" but not just soap and herbs/essential oils like the two in my first post (it's made with natural and naturally derived ingredients like citric acid and coconut oil derived surfactant, BUT not SLS and no chemicals). Wide range of products, including laundry soap (which is the only laundry soap I've found that I like). You can find it at Whole Foods and other health food stores. Some info on website about use of chemicals.

Seventh Generation also makes some nice products. I don't care too much for their laundry soap but I do like their dishwashing soap. Their dishwashing soap is made with vegetable surfactants (so natural derived aka partially synthetic detergent derived from a natural source). It is fully biodegradable, and does not contain toxins like conventional soap. It comes in unscented or is naturally scented with essential oils. This brand does not contain a high amount of water, so its very concentrated.

For more brands, companies, and eco-friendly services all over the U.S. check Greenpeople's directory. I use it to find all sorts of natural products. OCA (see below) sponsers them.

For articles and information about all things organic check out The Organic Consumers Association's website. You can also subscribe to a news letter. Lots of good information, book suggestions, etc. Great website.


Solarkat said...

Hi Robin,

Definitely get the books I suggested (you may find some of them or similiar type books in your local library). Most things around the household can be cleansed with white vinegar, baking soda, castille liquid soap or borax, which all clean well but are very cost effective. I think also has some household recipes.

Haven't used the organge glo paste, but I love oxyclean, which is a nice bleach alternative. It gets clothes white and makes odors and strains disappear like magic!


Anonymous said...

hello Solarkat!
I love that you are approaching the cleaning product issue! Cleaning products can be some of the most toxic things in our homes, but they don't have to be. Before the chemical revolution in products home makers where using basic kitchen supplies like vinegar and baking soda. If you have a chance, check out my solutions to home dry-cleaning, another related topic. Keep up the good work and happy blogging!
best wishes,
E. Starbuck

Solarkat said...

Hi E.J.

Thanks for posting! :) I saw your blog, very interesting :)