We all know that mainstream cleaning products are dangerous. But sadly, some brands that promote themselves as “green”, “sustainable” and “toxin-free” are lying.
Years ago I used products that I later learned contain toxic ingredients. I was suspicious because my eyes burned and my nose ran every time I used them. I coughed for hours afterward, even with the windows wide open. In October, Seventh Generation settled a class action lawsuit over their “natural” marketing claims (read about it here). SC Johnson’s Mrs. Meyers label has been heavily exposed for their lies about how they were founded and for their dangerous ingredients (Eco Friendly Girl has a great article about it here).
Like many people, I was fooled by the biodegradable cardboard bottles and their convincing hipster websites — videos of bike riding scientists talking about the company’s commitment to buying lavender from co-op farms in rural France. The actor…I mean “scientist”…even knew the names of the farmers.
So what do you do? Go too far the other way? Constantly stock your fridge with bowls of fresh lemons, which have a short shelf-life, and don’t do anything that vinegar can’t do? Filling a pretty spray bottle with fresh herbs from your window sill sounds romantic, but the reality is that they add little fragrance and clog the spray nozzle in minutes.
All of the products below work 100%, every time! They are all vegan, cruelty-free, plant-based, biodegradable, greywater safe, inexpensive, have a long shelf life, require little effort on your part, and are all you need to keep a clean home.
MILDEW KILLER/DECALCIFIER/AIR NEUTRILIZER
Most everything can be cleaned with white vinegar. Fill an empty spray bottle half-way with white vinegar and fill the rest with room temperature filtered water.
TIP: If you don’t have filtered water, let it sit on the counter without a lid for 30 minutes to let the chlorine evaporate before using.
Because it is food, vinegar is gentle enough to use near pet dishes and toothbrushes while still being your toughest ally against mildew. It also decalcifies your coffee maker and neutralizes odors.
To freshen a room, just spritz into the air. Once the vinegar scent dissipates, the room will smell fresh and void of fragrance, which is the true scent of clean.
USES: Everything. Floors, counter tops, refrigerator, sink, coffee maker, toaster oven, mirrors, windows, bathtub/shower, air freshener, and more.
TOUGH MULTI-SURFACE CLEANER
PARSLEY PLUS and ORANGE PLUS by ECOS
When faced with something horrifyingly gross, vinegar requires some back up. Parsley Plus and Orange Plus are hard workers that kill germs and don’t negatively affect your household’s health. In fact it’s so safe that you can clean your patio furniture directly on the grass with no toxic effects. This is the advantage of plant-based biodegradable cleaners.
USES: Tough jobs like the inside of the trash can, exterior of the toilet, and litter box accidents.
BAKING SODA/SEA SALT
Excellent for scrubbing surfaces without leaving scratches. Baking soda can remove stains and brighten up dull fixtures. Like with vinegar, since you’re cleaning with food it is completely food-grade safe.
USES: Removing stains from white kitchen sinks, scrubbing out the refrigerator, cutting boards, soap scum, pots/pans, and dishes with dried on crud.
TIP: If a pan or dish has stubborn dried on food, ball up a piece of foil to use as an intense scrubber. Letting it sit with hot water in it, also does wonders.
CITRA SOLV CONCENTRATED CLEANER
Sometimes there is nasty goo on something that no amount of scrubbing can remove. Citra Solv is made from Orange peel oils and immediately removes said goo.
USES: Perfect for stove top, oven, pots, dishes, or anything else covered with an oily film, such as the residue left by price tags and tape.
HOT WATER & SOAP
DR. BRONNER’S MAGIC ALL-ONE CASTILE SOAP
Nothing beats the power of hot water and soap to kill germs and sterilize a surface.
Founded on the principle that we are all one, Dr. Emanuel Bronner believed in working hard, doing right by customers, treating his employees like family, being fair to suppliers, treating the earth like home, and fighting for what’s right. Today his children run his business the same way. If you’ve ever looked at a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s, you’ve seen his message written all over it.
TIP: There is a very cool documentary about him called Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap Box (2006), which is a great watch and available on Netflix.
USES: By following the proper dilution instructions you can do just about anything with Dr. Bronner’s. Wash your car, dishes, your hair, floors, rinse your veggies, make a bubble bath, hand-wash your dishes, or shave.
TIP: On a hot summer day, take a shower with the peppermint soap and enjoy the cool tingly feeling all over.
DISHMATE GRAPEFRUIT by ECOS
Residue from dish soap stays on dishes even after they are rinsed with hot water and we end up eating that residue with our food. So if you’re going to have residue on your dishes, you want something non-toxic and made of plants.
USES: Dishes and anything else that can use a suds. I actually use it as hand soap in my bathroom, as it’s gentle on hands.
4X CONCENTRATED LAUNDRY DETERGENT by ECOS
Primarily made of coconuts and other plant sources. Ecos proudly promises, “We will never test on animals or use animal ingredients. We will conduct business in a socially responsible manner that safeguards the earth.”
USES: Of course laundry. I’m partial to the Lemongrass scent. Buying the concentrate also means using less plastic.
TIP: If clothes and towels go into the hamper while damp or sweaty, they can get that nasty mildew stench. You don’t need anything harsh to kill the bacteria. Just be sure to use hot water, laundry soap and 1/2 cup of white vinegar.
TOILET CLEANER by ECOS
No fragrance and safe for plumbing.
USES: Of course the toilet bowl, but also excellent for bringing back the sparkle to porcelain tubs and sinks too. I love 3-in-1’s!
FRESH AIR by Nature
Fresh air is free and provided by nature. Nothing makes a room smell more delightful than opening all the windows and letting the breeze carry away the stench of stale closed up house.