At long last, the final installment of this series on natural household cleaners! If you haven't read them yet, I would suggest reading Part 1 and Part 2, before continuing on to read this post (of course, you are welcome to read it anyways!).
The final issue that I want to address is "how do I use natural cleaners on a tight budget?". I imagine that you have likely been at a health food store or a supermarket that carries these natural cleaners, such as Seventh Generation, and wondered how anybody can pay $8 for a bottle of dishwashing soap. I have thought the same thing, and I just cannot pay those kind of prices.
Here is my solution. It comes down to two basic principles:
- If there is a simple, inexpensive cleaner that can be used, I use that first. For instance, wherever I can use vinegar and it does the job, I use that because it is so cheap. I also incorporate cleaners like baking soda and Borax into my repertoire, because they are very cost efficient and very useful for cleaning a variety of things (on a side note- my Mother-in-law has recently been using Borax in her dishwasher and says it works very well!).
- If there is no simple cleaner (because as I mentioned in Part 2, I do not have the time to be mixing up fancy concoctions and figuring out a different natural cleaner for each and every part of my home), then I find a pre-made cleaning solution that is concentrated, for the best value possible.
- I keep it simple. I do not need to have different cleaners. I use one for glass and mirrors, one good all-purpose cleaner, one laundry liquid (no fabric softener or drier sheets), etc.
If you have checked out the Biokleen website that I linked to previously, you will find that nearly all of their cleaners are highly concentrated. This is becoming a trend among non-toxic and eco-friendly cleaners, as it requires less packaging and less transportation (therefore, less oil use, less emmissions, etc.).
For me, it means that although I pay a little bit more upfront, for what appear to be a small amount, it actually lasts quite a long time and then becomes more comparable to buying conventional commercial cleaning products.
But where do I get these supplies at even more reasonable prices, that make it truly worthwhile (although to me, the health benefits are worthwhile enough)? From my friendly natural foods co-op. If you do not know of a co-op in your area, I highly suggest that you do some research to discover what is available in your area. I found this co-op directory site online, listing co-ops in almost every state, as does this site, and it includes some Canadian co-ops as well.
Currently, I have been using a co-op called Azure Standard for the past 2 years. It is actually located in the US, not in Canada, but since we have family living in Seattle, it works very well for us. Azure serves Washington, Oregon (where they are based), Idaho, Utah, Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Minnesota, Nebraska, California, Nevada and Arizona. It is a Christian-owned and run company, and their service is absolutely excellent, they carry most items in bulk as well as small quantities, have an incredible selection of all natural foods (dry, frozen, fresh), supplements, books, and more (and no, I get no money for advertising for them- I'm just a satisfied customer!). And did I mention their prices are very, very good?
As for my other cleaning supplies, I purchase them mainly at Costco (I buy 2 gallons of vinegar for $4), and stores like Walmart also have very good values.
I hope that this has been a useful series for many of you, giving you ideas and resources, and even just inspiration and motivation to seek out natural and non-toxic products to use in your home. If you have any questions, or any suggestions of products or methods that work for you, please leave a comment! Happy cleaning!
For more frugal tips, be sure to visit Frugal Fridays!