Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cleaning: The Natural Way

The nesting urge has set in so I've been cleaning like mad lately (although it almost seems like I'm making more of a mess since I feel like I need to take everything out of each closet so I can re-organize my closets). I was thinking about how we clean the other day. I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about natural ways to keep your home clean.

Tools of the trade:
A really good stiff scrubbing brush
A couple micro-fibre clothes
Spray bottles of various sizes
Tea Tree Oil
Baking Soda
A broom/vacuum

The motivation for us to switch to cleaning products that contain no chemicals was not so much about the environmental impact but about my asthma. Cleaning with those strong chemical cleaning products really made my asthma flare up so I just decided to stop using them.
In the kitchen I mainly use a vinegar and water mixture for cleaning the counters and stove top (we have a glass top stove). Recipes for vinegar cleaning products can be found here. But I will admit that sometimes there are those sticky spots that you need to use something extra on. Enter baking soda. Put a little bit of baking soda on the sticky spot and with a damp (not wet) cloth scrub in a circular motion until the spot is gone. For the dishes and the dish washer we use a biodegradable soap. My favorite is Seventh Generation.
In the bathroom is where the scrubbing brush is the most handy. To clean the tub and shower baking soda and the scrubbing brush should get off any soap scum. Then I like to give the whole tub a spray with the vinegar/water cleaner and wipe it down. The sink and counters are done is a similar way. If you notice any spots in your bathroom that are beginning to develop mold or mildew this is where you would use your tea tree oil. To make a mold-killing cleaner at home add about 4-5 drops of tea tree oil to a spray bottle with about 1 cup of water. Spray on the affected area and either wipe clean or scrub, depending on how much mold you are dealing with. Cleaning the toilet was a challenge to do without a cleaner. We got a good toilet brush so that helped and I tried just using vinegar but it just didn't seem to do the job to my standards. So again I turned to Seventh Generation for a natural cleaning product. For the mirror, which always seems to get toothpaste on it, I use the Method Mint Glass Cleaner. Yes, you can probably make a natural glass cleaner that will do the trick but I was getting frustrated with the smudges my mixes seemed to leave so I just decided to give into the commercial products.
General household cleaning is a lot easier to do without chemicals. We have hardwood and area rugs in the majority of our house so we use our broom a lot and vacuum the carpets. Every so often I bring out the Swiffer. I don't like the Swiffer products so I use Method Compostable Corn Clothes (which I think might be discontinued since I can't find them anymore) with their multi-floor cleaner. Dusting only requires a good micro-fibre cloth.
Laundry is done with a natural laundry soap, again I find Seventh Generation to be superior. However, if the load I'm doing not necessarily "dirty" but needs a refreshing clean (bed sheets and bath towels usually fall in this category) I just use vinegar and Borax to kill any bacteria or smells. In the spring and summer I dry the clothes on the line outside but in the fall and winter (when it usually raining around here) I do use the dryer. Right now we are using the Method Dryer Cloths but I would really like to get some of these.
I will do a post on all the new organization going on here once things are where I want them. I secretly LOVE this new phase of pregnancy. It's tiring but so satisfying!

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