Nov 052011

Mr T and I are both extremely sensitive to chemicals in products like household cleaners. Luckily, with each passing year there are more — and more effective — choices for less toxic cleaning products. Because the process is usually a matter of trial and error (and I hate wasting time and money on the errors!), thought I’d share some favorites with you.

[Links and prices are based on either or because that's where I buy them. But most are widely available, and you might be able to find them cheaper somewhere else.]

Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap, in Almond ($9.50). We definitely aren’t alone in our love for Dr. Bronner’s mild, natural, vegan liquid soaps. We use it as hand soap (with a little water mixed in to make it easier to rinse and to keep soap from clogging the dispenser), baby soap and shampoo (pumped out of the hand-soap dispenser), and sometimes grown-up shower soap. I have also heard of people using it for household cleaner (I tried it, but don’t like the residue it leaves if you don’t rinse), dog wash, and laundry stain treatment. The peppermint is popular, but it stings my sensitive skin; we prefer the gentle almond scent.

I object to the inclusion of dog shampoo. Down with dog baths!

EarthBath All-Natural Dog Shampoo ($12). The Oatmeal and Aloe version smells great (clean but not overpowering) and leaves our Sheltie’s coat super-soft. Wish I could find something this good for my own hair!

BioKleen Concentrated Produce Wash ($4.50). Removes chemicals and dirt from fruits and vegetables. Simply rub some on (you can use a produce brush, but I just use bare hands) and rinse. For berries, I soak them in a bowl of BioKleen and water for 5 or 10 minutes. I am hyper-sensitive to soap flavors and have never tasted any soapy residue from the BioKleen, plus the fruit itself tastes fresher. Not a fan of BioKleen’s other products, but I can’t live without this produce wash!

Earth Friendly Products Wave Dishwashing Gel ($7). Eco-friendly dishwasher soaps rarely clean as well as their chemical-laden counterparts. We tried several brands and found that Earth Friendly Products left dishes noticeably cleaner than the others.

Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder ($12). Found this through Amazon reviews (I buy it at a discount through Subscribe & Save on Amazon) while looking for an effective “green” laundry option to tackle stained baby clothes. I haven’t found that it works any better (or any worse) on stains than other laundry detergents, but it cleans well without harsh chemicals or fragrances.

Better Life “I Can See Clearly, Wow!” Window Cleaner ($7). Window cleaners are another category where the green options often fall short. This one works quite well. The company makes several other cleaners that seem well-reviewed; looking forward to trying more.

What are your favorite eco-friendly cleaning options? Always looking for suggestions!

  7 Responses to “Green Your Clean”

  1. Hi Tara,
    I use diluted vinegar for almost all of my household cleaning. It is cheap, simple, won’t harm a child who tries to drink it, and works! For clothes/baby stains, I swear by OxyClean. (I have never read anything about its environmental impact — I just hope it’s an earth-friendly product! It’s better than bleach, at least.) I L-O-V-E Ecover’s dishwashing products, too.

    BTW, have you checked out EWG’s Skin Deep database? You can find out what chemicals are lurking in your shampoo, body wash, cosmetics, sunscreen, etc. It’s a handy reference.

  2. Alyssa, should’ve known you could be counted on for some great recommendations! Though I haven’t checked out the database. I know it exists, but sometimes I actually prefer to be LESS informed. Otherwise the information just overwhelms and I’d never stop worrying about everything I touch….

  3. I don’t know if it counts as cleaning, but we use mayonaise to polish our wood furniture. It was recommended to us by this antiques dealer. Really works!

    • We as a society have totally lost the knack for caring for wood furniture. My workplace once oiled up an old wooden table in our conference room, and I could not BELIEVE the difference. Meanwhile, my midcentury wood furniture is all ratty (mostly from my 5 years of ownership; it went through the 50 years before me just fine) and I don’t have the first clue how to fix it.

  4. Maybe that dog is saying that she *loves* baths, and needs to take them more often.

  5. We use Charlie’s Soap also. We got it for the cloth diapers but I love it as I can’t use detergents with any scent additives. I also use a Babyganics spray cleaner to wipe down surfaces. Honestly, I haven’t looked into that one too much, just trusted the packaging :/ ha!

    Btw, I’ve used mayo to remove silver tarnish, but never heard of it for wood. Wow! Who woulda thought mayo was such a wonder cleaner?!

    • Mayo for silver tarnish? I had no idea! Suddenly eyeing my tarnished silver tchotchkes and ugly wood dining table…. Though I have the type of mayo with olive oil (supposedly genuinely healthier for you, as these things go) and wonder whether that would mess up its housecleaning effects?

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