I wondered last time how many people were hoping for a list of every natural substance (vinegar, baking soda, lemon, etc.) and how I make different combinations and concoctions in order to cheaply make my house sparkling clean and non-toxic, with the scent of lemons wafting on the breeze.
You won't find that from me. While I love the concept, I don't find it practical for a busy Mom. I don't have time to squeeze a lemon every time to I want to wipe down my kitchen sink. I am not the perfect, natural housecleaner.
What I hope that you discover as you read this series of posts is that I am a regular, busy Mama, who cares deeply about what I bring into the home and use around my precious babies. My first priority is getting effective cleaning products that I can feel good about using, for both our health and the earth, and my second is getting them as frugally as possible (and it is possible, and I will tell you how I do it in my next and final post).
Without further adieu, I'll move onto my bathroom and laundry cleaners, since I covered kitchen cleaners in Part 1 (which may be helpful to read first, if you haven't yet).
Bathroom- The bathroom is simple, because I actually use all of the same cleaners that I already use in the kitchen.
Mirrors- Good old vinegar, once again. I've also tried using a microfibre cloth, which you are supposed to be able to use with only water, because I would prefer not to use paper towels. But the one that I tried just didn't clean as well as I hoped it would, and it left a bit of lint/fuzzies on the mirror. If you know of a good brand to try, I'd love a recommendation. I know there are some really good ones out there!
Toilet, tub, counters, sink, etc.- For these jobs, I love my all-purpose Biokleen cleaner and degreaser (see Part 1 for more info). Vinegar is also excellent for bringing a shine to chrome sink and tub faucets.
Really tough tub/shower mold- I've recently started to use yet another Biokleen product called Bac-Out. It's a natural enzyme cleaner, and it comes in a handy spray bottle. I haven't had much opportunity to use it on any really tough mold yet, but I have read great reviews on it, so I'll let you know what I think of it. So far I am not seeing any mold build up!
Floors- Same as the kitchen, the Melaluca cleaner (although I've recently decided that when I run out, I'll be trying something different- it's not quite as natural as I would like), or just my all-purpose cleaner.
Laundry- I keep my laundry cleaners very minimal. I choose not to use a fabric softener or drier sheets because they contain chemicals that mimic estrogen and can cause hormone disruption. There is a great article on The Green Guide that tells all about the dangers of particular chemicals used for laundry in a much more detailed manner than I am able to.
Laundry soap- I am currently using Biokleen's Citrus Laundry Liquid, which works well in hot or cold and I prefer that it's a liquid. The powder is a bit more economical, but because I hang most of our shirts, I find that powder occasionally leaves white marks on darker colored shirts. I've also used Seventh Generation and Country Save, both of which I liked. Country Save is more economical than Seventh Generation.
Stain remover- The Biokleen liquid actually works quite well when it's used at full strength (and so did Country Save). I put some in an old Shout bottle and just use the detergent straight on stains. I am also currently trying the Bac-Out enzyme cleaner that I mentioned above- it seems to work similarly to Oxy-Clean (which is better than some cleaners, but still somewhat toxic), and I find that although it usually removes the stain, if I leave it on the fabric too long, it begins to leave it's own mark (I suppose because it's just such a powerful cleaner and uses enzymes). I have also occasionally used Borax on tough stains (such as the time my 1 year old spilled a green smoothie on half of the beige carpet in our rental apartment!).
Extra freshening and whitening- I just add a 1/4-1/2 cup of Borax to white loads, or diapers, or anything that was particularly stained or unpleasant smelling (ie. wet bathing suits and towels that got forgotten in a backpack overnight, etc.)
Cloth diapers- I soak them in a pail with cold water and a 1/2 cup vinegar. I wash them twice a week, Mondays and Fridays, by putting them first on a cold rinse cycle (with a high water level), and then a full, hot wash cycle (I lower the water level a bit). I use my regular Biokleen detergent for the wash cycle, and am quite happy with it. Then I lay my covers out to dry, and use the dryer for my diapers. Here is a great chart comparing different laundry detergents for use with cloth diapers.
That's it for my laundry and bathroom cleaners! I hope that some of you are finding this useful and are becomming inspired to find more natural cleaners that work for your family! In Part 3, I will give you the breakdown of how much my cleaners cost and how it is possible to use these safe and natural cleaners in even a tight budget!