Today is Earth Day, so I thought it appropriate to post a short article on the cleansers I use, which are affordable, efficient, and non-toxic to the planet.
Light Duty Cleanser
For a light duty cleanser, you really can’t beat straight white vinegar in a spray bottle! You can buy a gallon of vinegar for around two dollars, depending on where you live, and it will last you for months. There are literally a thousand and one uses for this ancient liquid made from acetic acid and water, then fermented. (An older method was to allow a distilled alcohol like wine, gin, or vodka to oxidize and ferment). It can cut grease, remove mineral deposits, remove stains, eliminate odors and sterilize inhalers and baby bottles. Sometimes it is used full-strength, sometimes diluted with water, or sometimes mixed with either salt or baking soda. For a more detailed list of uses, check out Vinegar Tips .
I fill a plastic reusable spray bottle with full-strength vinegar. I spritz it on mirrors and windows and wipe clean. It takes a little more rubbing than window cleaner, but it works. The recipe on the above vinegar tips page says to mix it with ammonia and cornstarch. I haven’t tried that. I don’t like ammonia and don’t have it around the house, but you might find that it works better for you.
I spritz the counter tops and sinks with full-strength vinegar and wipe clean. The vinegar removes mildew, mold, and mineral deposits, and leaves a fresh smell behind. The chrome faucets look almost shiny new. I spray the tub and shower area well, then wipe dry with a cleaning rag. I spray a wad of toilet tissue with vinegar and wipe the outside of the toilet, then flush the paper. You can spray light switches and door knobs with vinegar to disinfect. Lastly, I pour vinegar from the jug into the toilet – about two cups – and let sit for an hour or two. Then brush and flush – you haven’t added chemical toxins to the waste water, and your bathroom is sparkling clean and disinfected.
Heavy Duty Cleanser
For heavy duty cleaning, add some liquid laundry detergent and water to white vinegar. Use this when straight vinegar alone doesn’t get the job done. The only time I use this is on something VERY dirty that hasn’t been washed in a while. Like toys that have been stored in the attic for years, after my kids outgrew them while I waited for the grandkids to come along. I can clean pet dishes with this, gardening tools, and stubborn stains.
I forgot to mention that the straight white vinegar is great for cleaning carpets! Even pet accidents come up without staining. Pick up any solid mess, blot up liquid mess with paper towels. Spray the area and blot with paper towels, continue to spray and blot until all stain is gone. The vinegar spray worked on spilled grape juice, red playdough, and wine, as well. For really old stains, you need to combine vinegar, salt, and baking soda. Pour into stain, scrub, let dry, then vacuum. This took up some three year old carpet stains that other cleaning products left behind.
Finally, for scrubbing, I use either baking soda or plain white salt. Baking soda is less abrasive, so use on anything you don’t want scratched. Salt has more scratch to it, so use on severe stains and deposits.
With these three cleansers, I keep everything clean and sanitary, and best of all, I don’t need to use an inhaler afterwards. I don’t have to wear protective gloves (thank goodness, as I’m allergic to latex, too). And I can feel good about it, because I know I’m not contributing to global warming or filling up the landfills. I buy in bulk and reuse small containers.
I don’t have any activities for preschoolers and toddlers yet for Earth Day. I will put that on the schedule for next year. But our young children learn best from observing us, so just by being “green” yourself, you’ll be raising a greener child.
Tags: baking soda, cleansers, earth day, Green Cleaning, home-made cleaning products, home-made cleansers, non-toxic, odor remover, penny wise, recipes for cleaning, recipes for cleaning products, stain remover, vinegar