Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Non-Toxic Cleaning

Source: via Dianna on Pinterest

     Last month I shared my recipe for home-made laundry detergent, and with that "outed" myself as a green-lovin' gal. I don't know why this can seem embarrassing for some of us. Maybe it's because even with the plethora of information we have today about the damage that unnecessary chemicals and toxins can do to our environmental and personal health, there are still nay-sayers out there who like to think that those who care about these issues are just a bunch of hysterical loony-toons who drank the Kool-Aid. Pish posh, that's what I say. I was actually told by someone recently that they think the whole "go green thing" is just so "trendy" right now. Imagine me rolling my eyes. Now imagine me fuming. Seriously, dude? Trendy? I'll try really hard not to have a rant right now, let me just say that whatever your reasons are for going green, whether your intentions are noble (to help the environment, or reduce toxins in your home for yourself or your children) or superficial (following the oh-so-cool go green "trend") I do not care, and I don't think it matters. Bottom line, going green is good for everyone not only in terms of health and environmental responsibility, but in terms of the bottom line which for many of us struggling in this economy means money still in our pockets!

     Today, I'd like to share a couple more green cleaning tips that have come my way. I find tips like these to be so exciting! I get a cheap (and I mean monetarily cheap) thrill out of finding ways to use only a few items for many purposes. In my Greening Your Laundry post I promised that one day I'd share the many uses for good ol' Baking Soda and Vinegar--and there are MANY. Let's start there:

Check out 31 Surprising Uses for Baking Soda here
Check out 45 Uses for Vinegar here.

Source: via Amanda on Pinteres

     It is unbelievable how versatile those two simple products can be. If you are hungry for more green cleaning tips, don't worry, I'm not done. We all love the convenience of a great all-purpose cleaner, and green goddess Deirdre Imus (author of the fabulous Green This! series) agrees that every home should have some on hand. Unfortunately many conventional all-purpose cleaners are full of harmful ingredients. There are loads of recipes for home-made all purpose cleaners, but if you prefer the convenience of purchasing ready made cleaners try one of these eco-friendly brands (in no particular order): Sun and Earth, Method, Mrs. Meyers, Seventh Generation, Ecover, Trader Joe's, Bi-O--Kleen, or Imus GTC, to name a few. Deirdre Imus, by the way, is a fascinating woman who has done a many good works in the way of greening the cleaning at hospitals, sharing her knowledge and spreading awareness and helping children who are battling cancer. To learn more about Imus and what she's up to, click here.

     Upon learning that I make many of my own cleaners out of simple kitchen ingredients, some people have expressed concern about the ability of these cleaners to truly zap out bacteria. Anyone with school-aged children can understand the desire to disinfect properly with all of the germs kids bring home! Imus offers the following information on this issue in her book Green This! Volume 1: Greening Your Cleaning (pages 80-81):

"Disinfectants--which, depending on their specific function, are sometimes called 'bacteriacides' or 'germacides' as well--have one simple and utterly essential purpose: to annihilate the bacteria, microbes, and germs that cause disease...Unfortunately, most disinfectants on the market today are formulated from a blend of toxic, caustic chemicals: from synthetic pine oil to chlorine bleach and ammonia. These products might kill all the bad germs on any given surface, but they also wipe out the good microorganisms that boost our immune systems and keep us healthy and balanced...In your home, you should immediately replace your synthetic disinfectant with a nontoxic all-purpose cleaner. Any all-purpose cleaner with essential oils has natural antibacterial, antimicrobial, disinfecting properties, and of course vinegar is also a great disinfectant."
     Imus makes an excellent point, we don't want or need to kill every microorganism out there...just the icky ones.

     The March 30, 2012 issue of All You magazine had an absolutely fantastic article full of recipes for household cleaners, "Whip up your own cleaning products: Save money and go green at home with super-simple recipes" by Allegra Muzzillo. Here's an excerpt and recipe:

"Antibacterial Spray:
use this germ killer on sinks, vanities and toilet seats. 
White thyme oil, although expensive, inhibits bacterial growth.

Prep: 2 min. Cost: $11.57  
Yield: Approximately  18 oz. (a 2- to 3-month supply)

You'll need:
measuring cup and spoon
24-oz. Spray bottle
Microfiber cloth

2 Cups water
2 Tbs liquid castile soap
1 Tbs white thyme essential oil (
10 drops lavendar essential oil 

 Using funnel, pour water, soap and oils into bottle.
Spray and let sit for 20 minutes. 
Wipe down surfaces with damp cloth."

     I have also heard many green-lovin gals and guys say that the one non-green product they still keep around is chlorine bleach, because "there are some jobs that just can't be done without it." I'll admit that there's a bottle of the nasty stuff lurking somewhere in my basement still too. Imagine my thrill, when researching for this article, I found this:


     The recipe can be found here. I'm going to try it, I hope you do too!

     Lastly, I have been greeted with much enthusiasm about my home-made laundry detergent, however my friends with high efficiency washers felt left out in the cold as they weren't sure if this recipe would be suitable for their needs. My darlings your prayers to the green-gods have been answered! Below is another recipe (also from the green cleaning article in All You magazine, cited above) for home-made laundry detergent for high efficiency washers!!! 

"HE-Friendly Detergent
High-efficiency washers use less water than their conventional counterparts, so this detergent produces less lather and easily rinses out. 

Prep: 15 min (includes grating soap) Cost: $4.03
Yield: 18 oz. (enough for 12 loads)

You'll Need:
Rubber gloves
Measuring cup
Lidded 24-oz plastic container

1/2 Cup Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Borax
1 bar lavender castile soap, grated (about 1 cup) 
1/4 Cup Baking soda
15 drops lemon essential oil

Put on gloves. 
Add washing soda, borax, grated soap, baking soda and oil to lidded container.
Cover and shake well.
Use 3 Tbs detergent per load, or slightly more for very soiled clothes."

     In closing, I'll share an image from the wall which sits across from my washer and dryer:
Copyright, 2012 Tamar J

      If you can't read the words on this framed Anne Taintor peice it reads: "I dreamed my whole house was clean." My hope is that the tips I've shared today will not only limit toxins and save you money, but that along with these tips and Seana's advice to take projects 15 minutes at a time, having a clean house won't be a dream, but a reality. 

Green and Proud, 

Many of the products and ingredients listed in this post can be easily purchased at great prices on pages 5-6 of our Amazon store, under "Our Favorite Things." You can access our The Ladies Holiday aStore here:


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  1. Wow I love this post i'm so excited to read all the uses for vinegar and baking soda. Thanks for sharing this with us @ the Sunday Round Up.
    Hope you have a wonderful week,

  2. Thanks for sharing at our Sunday Round Up! Can't wait to see what you have for us next weekend. Have a GREAT week!

  3. Thanks Rose and Heather! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I get giddy when I save money and find simple ways to stream-line my cleaning routine, makes it more fun! :)
    See you back soon I hope!

  4. Thanks so much for this useful information and recipes!! I really want to start making my own laundry detergent. I'm so glad you linked up at Romance on a Dime!!


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