Natural household cleaners, Part 2
I wondered last time how many people were hoping for a list of every natural substance (vinegar, baking soda, lemon, etc.) and how I make different combinations and concoctions in order to cheaply make my house sparkling clean and non-toxic, with the scent of lemons wafting on the breeze.
You won’t find that from me. While I love the concept, I don’t find it practical for a busy Mom. I don’t have time to squeeze a lemon every time to I want to wipe down my kitchen sink. I am not the perfect, natural housecleaner.
What I hope that you discover as you read this series of posts is that I am a regular, busy Mama, who cares deeply about what I bring into the home and use around my precious babies. My first priority is getting effective cleaning products that I can feel good about using, for both our health and the earth, and my second is getting them as frugally as possible (and it is possible, and I will tell you how I do it in my next and final post).
Without further adieu, I’ll move onto my bathroom and laundry cleaners, since I covered kitchen cleaners in Part 1 (which may be helpful to read first, if you haven’t yet).
Bathroom– The bathroom is simple, because I actually use all of the same cleaners that I already use in the kitchen.
Mirrors– Good old vinegar, once again. I’ve also tried using a microfibre cloth, which you are supposed to be able to use with only water, because I would prefer not to use paper towels. But the one that I tried just didn’t clean as well as I hoped it would, and it left a bit of lint/fuzzies on the mirror. If you know of a good brand to try, I’d love a recommendation. I know there are some really good ones out there!
Toilet, tub, counters, sink, etc.– For these jobs, I love my all-purpose Biokleen cleaner and degreaser (see Part 1 for more info). Vinegar is also excellent for bringing a shine to chrome sink and tub faucets.
Really tough tub/shower mold– I’ve recently started to use yet another Biokleen product called Bac-Out. It’s a natural enzyme cleaner, and it comes in a handy spray bottle. I haven’t had much opportunity to use it on any really tough mold yet, but I have read great reviews on it, so I’ll let you know what I think of it. So far I am not seeing any mold build up!
Floors– Same as the kitchen, the Melaluca cleaner (although I’ve recently decided that when I run out, I’ll be trying something different- it’s not quite as natural as I would like), or just my all-purpose cleaner.
Laundry– I keep my laundry cleaners very minimal. I choose not to use a fabric softener or drier sheets because they contain chemicals that mimic estrogen and can cause hormone disruption. There is a great article on The Green Guide that tells all about the dangers of particular chemicals used for laundry in a much more detailed manner than I am able to.
Laundry soap– I am currently using Biokleen’s Citrus Laundry Liquid, which works well in hot or cold and I prefer that it’s a liquid. The powder is a bit more economical, but because I hang most of our shirts, I find that powder occasionally leaves white marks on darker colored shirts. I’ve also used Seventh Generation and Country Save, both of which I liked. Country Save is more economical than Seventh Generation.
Stain remover– The Biokleen liquid actually works quite well when it’s used at full strength (and so did Country Save). I put some in an old Shout bottle and just use the detergent straight on stains. I am also currently trying the Bac-Out enzyme cleaner that I mentioned above- it seems to work similarly to Oxy-Clean (which is better than some cleaners, but still somewhat toxic), and I find that although it usually removes the stain, if I leave it on the fabric too long, it begins to leave it’s own mark (I suppose because it’s just such a powerful cleaner and uses enzymes). I have also occasionally used Borax on tough stains (such as the time my 1 year old spilled a green smoothie on half of the beige carpet in our rental apartment!).
Extra freshening and whitening– I just add a 1/4-1/2 cup of Borax to white loads, or diapers, or anything that was particularly stained or unpleasant smelling (ie. wet bathing suits and towels that got forgotten in a backpack overnight, etc.)
Cloth diapers- I soak them in a pail with cold water and a 1/2 cup vinegar. I wash them twice a week, Mondays and Fridays, by putting them first on a cold rinse cycle (with a high water level), and then a full, hot wash cycle (I lower the water level a bit). I use my regular Biokleen detergent for the wash cycle, and am quite happy with it. Then I lay my covers out to dry, and use the dryer for my diapers. Here is a great chart comparing different laundry detergents for use with cloth diapers.
That’s it for my laundry and bathroom cleaners! I hope that some of you are finding this useful and are becomming inspired to find more natural cleaners that work for your family! In Part 3, I will give you the breakdown of how much my cleaners cost and how it is possible to use these safe and natural cleaners in even a tight budget!
Thank you for the details on how you clean diapers! I am due any day now with our first, and want to use cloth. We live in an apt with a coin laundry, so I wasn’t looking forward to washing every day like a lot of people say you have to. I don’t think I can do the pre-rinse in a coin laundry, so I will have to be inventive there.
You’re welcome, Heather, and congrats on your baby- how exciting! I think it will be totally possible to work around the coin laundry- good for you for trying! You may just find that you wash them twice, or that you can rinse them well in your home (before putting them in the pail) and then only need one wash. I guess you’ll have to experiment a bit, but it will be worth it.
Method makes a microfiber cloth that works great for cleaning mirrors. I think it’s specifically designed for that purpose. You’d find it next to the glass cleaner, assuming Method sells their products in Canada. I’ve also found that mens’ old white undershirts work well (no lint).
I just use club soda on the mirrors. It works just as well as vinegar and water (maybe better) and doesn’t require any mixing. Nice!
This might help with your laundry chores!
Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent:
a bar of fels-Naptha soap
1 cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax
(got everything in the laundry aisle at Walmart. You can also add 1/2-1 cup Oxyclean & a few drops of essential oils for fragrance if you like)
… You grate the bar of soap & put it in a pot with 4 cups of hot water & heat/ stir on the stove until all the soap is dissolved. Fill a clean 5 gallon bucket half full of hot water, add the soap, Borax & soda & stir it all up really good, then fill the bucket the rest of the way with hot water & stir again. Put the lid on it & let it sit for 24 hours, then fill whatever container you want to use half full of the detergent & the rest with water. Shake well. Supposed to use 5/8 cup for top loaders & 1/4 cup for HE machines.
(some ppl prefer not to dilute with water & just cut the amount they use by 1/2 instead)
Homemade Fabric Softener:
2 cups of any scented HAIR conditioner
3 cups of white vinegar
6 cups of warm water