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Favorite Earth Friendly/Non-Toxic Cleaning Supplies?

Although I wrote down the names and numbers of several of the housekeeper recommendations recently posted on urbanMamas, we're still trying to hold out on our own for just a little longer. Ask me how I'm feeling about outsourcing our household cleaning needs this summer when it's 100 degrees outside and I'm 9 months pregnant...

Some of the recommendations mentioned gals who are using environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, and lately I've been thinking a lot about the sprays and wipes in my cleaning bucket and wondering what I can switch to that is not only more earth friendly, but also non-toxic. A few weeks ago I picked up a bottle of all purpose Citrus Sage spray from Imus at Linens and Things because it had the words "environmentally responsible" and "non-toxic" on the label. It's ok for countertops and small spills, but I'm wondering about the more hard core stuff for toilets, bathroom sinks, etc.

Any urbanMamas or uPapas using some great products that are worth recommending?


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This website has great homemade cleaning products that are 'easy on the earth':


I just discovered this cool website called www.idealbite.com. They send a daily tip each day for greener living... Here's a list of their tested and preferred cleaning supplies:

Biter fave cleaning products:

Eco-Me Starter Kit - if you think you could never make your own cleaning products, this practically does it for you ($26).
Sh-Mop - Swiffer-like mop with reusable microfiber mop tops ($13).
Caldrea Powdered Scrub - scrub down surfaces without getting too abrasive ($8).
Seventh Generation Toilet Bowl Cleaner - biodegrades once flushed, with a nice, minty scent ($6).
Sun & Earth Deep Cleaning Laundry Detergent - liquid eco-detergent with no artificial perfumes or petroleum-based solvents ($6).
Ecover Stain Remover - works on tough stains so you won't have to run the washer for just one shirt ($5).
Method Wood for Good - polish up with this great-smelling concoction ($5).
Mrs Meyer's Carpet Cleaner - in 2007, they've resolved to get parabens out of all their product formulas. This stuff works great for spotty rugs ($5).
Mrs Meyer's Dish Soap - we LOVE the geranium-scented version ($5).
Earth Friendly Products Window Kleener - coconut + lavender = streak-free windows ($4).
Ecover All-Purpose Cleaner - veggie-based formula with a great lemon fragrance ($4).

Oh goodness, so many good things in that previous comment!
We are very sensitive to products in our house and have found that white vinegar with distilled water and a bit of essential oil works great.
Also, I'm addicted to those "magic eraser" products. Although I'm not sure how biodegradable the product is overall, I've been able to almost eliminate my need for other products when scrubbing sinks and even soap scum in the bathtub and my glass top range. So I think it's a nice trade-off because my house is consuming less and my house just smells clean, not scented. Another great product are those microfiber cloths which come in a variety of textures. Method makes a few and other companies have jumped on the bandwagon.
Other products we use include 7th Generation (toilet cleaner) and Method (wipes). If you don't have time (or energy) to mix up the vinegar concoction, there's a enviro-friendly brand sold at Whole Foods/New Seasons. I'm out of it and don't remember the name (it's a woman's name, though, not Mrs. Meyers), but it's marketed as window wash and smells like apple cider vinegar. It's great for more than windows.
Best of luck to you!

We use Bac Out for just about everything around here by BioKleen.

I'm with Sara -- white vinegar and water for just about everything! it makes my toilet shine (you know, when i get around to cleaning it) and now I'm going to add in some essential oils -- it never occurred to me before. awesome :)

We also use BacOut for just about everything, diapers, stains on any clothing, carpets, pet stains - when we had a dog, we even use it to treat our tub drain so it stay free flowing.

For floors and more intense household cleaning we usually use CitraSolv or Simple Green. And for carpet cleaning with a steamer we use Simple Green carpet cleaner.

Baking soda and elbow grease will clean practically everything, and vinegar will clean everything else. We sometimes use a Biokleen all-purpose cleaner, and I don't think that works any better. A vinegar solution used with crumpled newspapers as wipes works beautifully on windows. (A tip I learned from an 85-year-old woman whose storm windows I installed in college.) It's hard (impossible) to get some things (particularly our porous ceramic sink) looking as clean as toxic cleaners will get them, but we've just let go of the idea that something has to be shiny white and smelling like pine in order to be clean.

I love the book called "Clean House, Clean Planet" by Karen Logan - lots of recipes for non-toxic cleaning. She does a lot of price- and effectiveness- comparisons with leading commercial brands - anything from toilet bowl cleaners to everyday disinfectants to carpet cleaners, etc. Her big ingredients are the favorites: vinegar, baking soda, dr. bronner's soaps, tea tree oils, club soda... To combat vinegar smells, most of her recipes include essential oils. I've been using her recipes for years now, and I'm a big fan!

i've tried to make my own, but it seems that everytime i buy a spray bottle and try to fill it with something i've made, the sprayer doesn't work or the top doesn't screw on tightly or the bottle cracks on the seam at the bottom, so i get frustrated and buy Method cleaners at Target or the Trader Joes Cleanliness is Next to... spray instead.

but if money were no object, and if i managed to make it to Sellwood more regularly, i'd totally be buying all my cleaning products at GR Scrub (grscrub.com). i've been in a few times and it's just the coolest little store ever.

now if only i could find a good eco-friendly dishwasher detergent. i've tried the 7th generation and Planet powders, but they just don't get the dishes and glasses sparkly clean like good old (i mean bad bad bad, full of phosphates) cascade.

Yay for Al Gore and his Oscar win(s)!!!

Reporting back: I went to New Season's prepared to take a bit of a hit to the bank account, as I decided to outfit us with greener supplies. I was pleasantly surprised! They have a wide assortment of products and had alot of different things on sale. I bought everything a person might need (about 5 different products) and it wasn't too expensive at all. This stuff also smells divine.
JJ, I totally hear you on the spray bottles!! I have bought countless that all malfunction. If anyone knows where to buy a sturdy spray bottle, hook a sister up!

Bio-Clean products work great! Available at Haggens, New Seasons, and Wild Oats ... I clean houses for a living and I know what works, safe for everybody.

I actually prefer the Ecover dishwashing tablets over the traditional brands. A shout out goes to Bon Ami (http://www.bonami.com/products/)cleansing powder. It's non-toxic, super affordable and has great cleaning power. You can get it at New Season's.

haven't tried the ecover tablets - will pick some up on my next trip to new seasons! thanks, hau! and some bon ami - i've heard good things about that from others as well.

I now make my own cleaning products and store them in re-used spray bottles (Method Cleanliness in next too...)

Also, I have found great spray bottles at Janitorial supply stores. They just don't look as nice if left out on the countertop:)

We've had many a clogged spray bottle. For some reason, the Method bottles have stood the test of our vinegar-water-with-a-splash-of-lemon potion. We have two bottles of former Method product that we used up and refilled. Vinegar kicks booty on grease on the stove or grill. We use it for everything.

Does the vinegar stink? Do you add essential oils to take the stink away? How much? I don't need a perfumey smell but I do enjoy a sort of fresh, "clean", maybe lemoney smell.

Tea Tree oil and Grapefruit Seed Extract are great disinfectents (in the place of bleach) and they give you that great "clean smell." A few drops of each in a vinegar/water mixture works really well to clean surfaces and toys...especially if you have sick children around.

Yeah, I put a few drops of Tea Tree oil and Grapefruit Seed Extract in the wash when washing cloth diapers.

Mamas... your comments inspire me. I've decided to not rely on my Method products so much as good ol' baking soda and vinegar etc.

I agree with baking soda & vinegar. BS cannot be beat for porcelain! It's really a great scrubber.

We also use...
Ecover dish soap
Ecover dishwasher detergent
Tidy Up1 [from www.tropicaltraditions.com ]
BacOut [I order from www.azurestandard.com by the gallon & use it in our steam vac]

We've tried a lot of others with fine or not so fine results--I always check the ingredients b/c some say natural but aren't that natural.

FYI, in our experience 7th gen dishwasher deterg. tarnishes aluminum. We lie the carpet spray & all-purpose cleaners though.

We also use BacOut. We get it in 1-gallon bottles from Milagros.

Another plus for BacOut is that it is made in Vancouver and it isn't being shipped from some distant place.

the method shower cleaner decimates ants, too. in general we try to relocate unwanted little critters, but ants are another story. they follow my kids around closer than i do, but they are stopped dead in their tracks by the method shower cleaner. who knew?!

i've tried almost all enviro-friendly laundry products, too, and think that the ecover line works great.

I'm inspired too! Thanks for all of the great suggestions...I always love hearing from the urbanMamas. And now that I'm getting my 2nd trimester energy boost in combo with the nesting instinct kicking in, I'm actually looking forward to cleaning! Kind of... :)

Go to Metro's "Green Cleaners" site (http://www.metro-region.org/article.cfm?ArticleID=1400) for recipes for cleaning different parts of your home -- bathroom, kitchen, etc. Basically combinations of vinegar, baking soda, lemon, etc but also things like cream of tartar for srubbing rust off of porcelain or olive oil and lemon for polishing silver.

Does anyone know of a shower scum/lime scale remover/cleaner that is eco-friendly? Tried Ecover and it didn't do a very good job.
Lemme' know. Thanks.

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