Many common cleaning products contain hazardous chemicals that impact our health and the environment in three ways: when they're manufactured, when they're used, and when they're thrown away. You can buy alternative, eco-safe cleansers, or you can make your own.
For Your Shopping List
If you prefer ready-made, eco-safe cleansers, shop for these. They're chlorine-free, biodegradable, and just abrasive enough to get the job done.
All Purpose Cleansers:
Bon Ami - *eco-cheap* - easily available in supermarkets
Dishwasher Detergent (phosphate and chlorine free):
Dropps (super concentrated packets that dissolve completely in water)
All Small & Mighty (if you only have conventional cleansers to choose from, pick the product that comes in a concentrated version to reduce packaging)
Make Your Own
If you're willing to make your own, consider the recipes for Greener Cleaners below. They all have one "magic ingredient" in common that only costs you pennies to use: it's... water!
That's right. Water, plus a little baking soda, vinegar, and plant-based soap, will clean up almost every surface in your home.
Greener Cleaner Recipes
tap water sponge
Tub and sink cleaner: Baking soda, liquid soap, water
Sprinkle water on the sink and tub surfaces, followed by a generous shake of baking soda. Scrub with sponge or bristle brush. Add a little of the liquid soap to the sponge for more cleaning power. Rinse well.
Window and mirror cleaner: White vinegar, water
Toilet bowl cleaner: Baking soda, liquid soap
Sprinkle baking soda inside the bowl. Add a couple drops of liquid soap. Scrub with a toilet bowl brush. Wipe outside surfaces with a wet sponge sprinkled with baking soda. Pour ½ cup vinegar into the bowl and let it sit to remove most lime scale.
All purpose cleaner for spots on woodwork, tile and linoleum: Liquid soap
Add a few drops of liquid soap to a wet sponge; rub surface briskly.
Oven cleaner: Baking soda, water
Make a paste from baking soda and water. Apply to oven surfaces; let stand for five-ten minutes. Use a scouring pad or knife to remove loosened grime.
Drain cleaner: Baking soda, white vinegar, boiling water
Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain first, then 1/2 cup vinegar. Cover the drain until the fizzing stops, then flush with boiling water. Repeat if needed. If the clog is stubborn, use a plunger. If very stubborn, use a mechanical snake. Never pour liquid grease down a drain. Always use a drain sieve to capture food, hair, and other materials that could clog the pipe.
Copper cleaner: White vinegar, water, salt
Mix equal parts of vinegar and salt and apply to the surface with a sponge. Rinse thoroughly with water, then dry.
Silver polish: Salt, soda, aluminum foil/toothpaste
To remove tarnish from silverware, line a large pan with aluminum foil. Add water to cover the silver, plus 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon baking soda. Let the mixture rest for at least an hour. The tarnish will transfer to the aluminum foil. Rinse the silver in hot water and dry. You can also use toothpaste to polish individual pieces of silver.
Air fresheners: Locate the source of the objectionable smell and remove it, then open the window, or use an exhaust fan to clear out musty air. Simmer a small amount of cinnamon, orange peel, and cloves on the stove or in a small ceramic saucer over a candle to give your home a pleasant fragrance. Fresh cut flowers will also pleasantly scent your home. Indoor plants absorb volatile organic chemicals. An open box of baking soda will help absorb odors in the refrigerator; sprinkling baking soda in the garbage can or diaper pail will do the same.
Want more information? Visit the Cleansers page of our sister site, theworldwomenwant.com.