**This post has been linked to Kitchen Stewardship’s Spring Cleaning Carnival!**
Baby Steps Around the House is going to focus on how we can make our home a cleaner, healthier place: reducing chemical exposure, getting better cleaning products, etc. So here are the first three steps:
1. Stop using air fresheners (spray or plug-in)
2. Switch to free and clear laundry detergent (or other “green” alternative)
3. Switch main cleaning product to green alternative OR use vinegar and baking soda
Why those? Okay, here we go!
Air fresheners are bad for you. Anything containing artificial fragrances is, because those fragrances are basically just petrochemicals (read: derived from petroleum). They can cause headaches, breathing problems, and have been said to cause cancer in the long term. They’re also NOT necessary! You can totally abandon them and replace them with nothing, which will really save a lot of money. If you want to freshen up your house, though, you can leave your windows open to air it. Buy houseplants (they’ll absorb the bad chemicals and release oxygen, so bonus!). Mix some water and essential oils and spray that. Use essential oils in a diffuser, or candles scented with essential oils. Essential oils are 100% natural and they can safely be used to scent your home.
Laundry detergents, too, are made with petrochemicals. How do you think they get all those fancy artificial fragrances and colors and fun washing agents in them? When you wash your clothes in those, they’re absorbing those chemicals, and when you wear them, your skin is, too. Don’t you notice that your clothes come out of the wash smelling like the fragrance of the detergent? Yeah, you’re going to absorb that through your skin. Buy a free and clear version (slightly better, but still not a great washing agent) or better yet, a totally natural one, like Charlie’s Soap, or soap nuts. I love my soap nuts and you can’t get more natural than those! They grow on trees, so there’s no processing whatsoever. I’ve been using those for almost two years now. As for fabric softener, a little white vinegar in the washing machine rinse will take care of it. Or you can hang the clothes outside (that will reduce cling but it WILL make the clothes a bit stiff). But you really don’t need it. It has the same problems as the detergents — lots of chemicals in the fragrance and such. One awesome part is that these laundry chemicals tend to be expensive, and soap nuts and white vinegar are not!
You probably have one spray bottle of something you love and use to clean most things. Replace this with a green alternative, like Seventh Generation, or just baking soda and vinegar. The latter is super cheap and works very well on almost anything. I’ve used baking soda to successfully shine my faucets, clean mold from my shower, wipe down dirty counters, and more. It is a bit abrasive so it really works well. Vinegar is awesome in the laundry, down slightly clogged drains, to shine faucets if baking soda alone doesn’t work, etc. If there’s something it doesn’t quite work for, then a bottle of Seventh Generation all-purpose cleaner would work fine.
Speaking of which….
I never did post my Seventh Generation product review. They sent me a really awesome set of cleaning products for free, to try out and review. I just hadn’t received them yet by the previous post’s publish date. Oh well. Now I’ve had them for a couple weeks!
**Disclaimer: I contacted the company and they offered to send me the product for free to review. I received toilet cleaner, glass and surface cleaner, shower cleaner, tub and tile cleaner, kitchen cleaner, all purpose cleaner, a roll of 100% recycled paper towels, and a reusable tote. I was not, however, compensated for writing this review.**
I tried the toilet cleaner and found that it works nicely. I don’t have any super-soiled toilets in my house, but the toilet’s clean after I used it, and it doesn’t smell strongly and I don’t worry that my daughter is nearby when I’m using it.
I also tried the glass cleaner and it worked really well, the glass was clean and streak-free. I even let my two-year-old wipe the glass for me since it’s non-toxic. She enjoyed having the job, although stopped halfway through. :) I tried it on my storm door and some bathroom windows and found it worked equally well on both. Which is awesome, because frankly, most of the usual glass products I’ve tried DO leave streaks and I don’t like them.
The kitchen cleaner worked well too. I honestly hadn’t realized my sink was so dirty. It looked a little tarnished, not so shiny, but seemed…okay. No obvious dirt. But once I started cleaning with this, I realized it was actually pretty dirty, LOL. There was a lot of grease and dirt around the edges, and this cleaner took it all away. That was great! My sink actually looked shiny after! It also worked well on my kitchen counters.
The only thing I didn’t like about these products is that the ones that were supposed to be scented with essential oils smelled like they had been scented with chemicals. They’re not, but I wish they didn’t have a chemical-y smell to them. I had a couple “free and clear” ones and those were fine. I guess I’m a little hesitant because these were “non toxic chemical” type products and I worry about that a little, how do we REALLY know it’s non-toxic? But if the basic vinegar/baking soda isn’t doing the job, I’d definitely use these.
Also, this isn’t really positive or negative…but I think their cleaning products have a LOT of overlap. Do I need a kitchen cleaner AND an all-purpose cleaner? A tub cleaner AND a shower cleaner? I’m not sure why those products needed to be different. I would have preferred to see a starter kit containing: all purpose cleaner, tub/shower cleaner, toilet cleaner, dishwasher detergent, dish soap (for the sink), and maybe laundry detergent. I think that’s a more basic package. But…you know. You take what you can get. :) I can’t recommend you buy ALL of those different products though…. I think I might have even used the tub cleaner on a mirror and it worked just fine, so really, you only need a couple.
Have you tried Seventh Generation products? What did you think? What are your baby steps around the house?