Be Squeaky Clean and Green

By Nonna Joann • Jun 10th, 2008 • Category: Stretch Grocery $$$

Household Cleaners are Expensive
I have a lovely silver tea set that was a gift from my daughter Jenny. Even though my silver tea set is beautiful, cleaning it is a hassle. In my house, sliver usually gets cleaned twice a year: once before Thanksgiving and again in the spring. I cleaned it yesterday. I don’t like using chemicals and silver cleaners are messy and expensive.

First, I attempted a method using a paste made from baking soda and water. I wasn’t impressed. Then I tried another natural method with toothpaste and a soft toothbrush. It worked better than the baking soda, but I’m not thrilled with this method either. If you have a natural method of cleaning sliver that you love, leave a comment below, I’d like to know about it.

Cleaning my silver tea set got me thinking about other household cleaners. Did you know that the cleaner your home is, the unhealthier it may be? I’ve often talked about the germs we bring into our homes. But, did you know many cleaning products are made from toxic petroleum-based chemicals.

In fact, commercial cleaning products don’t have to list all the chemicals on the label. A manufacturer can omit any ingredient that’s considered a secret formula from its label, and many of these ingredients are toxic and carcinogenic.jada-melody.jpg

Some manufacturers are making untrue claims to jump on the Green bandwagon, because it’s now profitable to be “Green” or “Eco Friendly.” A new term has been coined, “Green-wash,” meaning that a label misleads consumers about the environmental practices or the environmental benefits of a product. So don’t believe everything you read.

Jada loves to help her mom in the kitchen! 

Make Your Own & Save
With the price of everything going up, why not make your own natural cleaning products? Think of all the money you’ll save by not purchasing a different cleaner for windows, floors, counters, scouring powders, and even fabric softeners and dryer sheets. Using homemade natural cleaning products makes “cents,” because it is cheaper, healthier, and non-toxic.

There are two natural inexpensive cleaners everyone has in their kitchen: baking soda and vinegar. You can use baking soda to scrub your bath and kitchen. Just sprinkle the baking soda on the surfaces and scrub.

I found a recipe for a wonderful spa-like bath for soaking away aches and pains. It uses ½ cup baking soda and apple cider vinegar. The potassium found in apple cider vinegar helps aching, tight muscles. When we remolded our master bathroom, we installed a whirlpool bath. Since water is recycled through the plumbing to make the air bubbles, I’ve been trying to think of a way to effectively keep the plumbing clear of bacteria. Then, I realized, the baking soda and apple cider vinegar will clean me, the tub, the plumbing, and the drain at the same time. Now, soaking in a tub is really clean fun.

I got tired of paying for commercial window cleaners, which are mostly water. And they contain butyl cellosolve - a toxic ingredient that isn’t listed on the labels. I now make my own window cleaner by combining 4 cups of water, ½ cup of white vinegar, and 1 teaspoon liquid soap in a spray bottle. It works as good as any window cleaner you’ll purchase.

Vinegar is an all-purpose cleaner as well as a disinfectant and deodorizer. But, don’t clean any natural stone such as granite or marble with vinegar or citrus. These products will erode the polish from the stone.

Use a mixture of water, rubbing alcohol, and a drop or two of liquid dish soap to clean stone counters. Rubbing alcohol or Isopropyl Alcohol is commonly used as a disinfectant and solvent and it’s an ingredient in all stone cleaners. Granite and marble cleaners are 97

Use vinegar in the toilet bowl to get rid of rings. Flush the toilet to allow the water level to go down. Squirt undiluted vinegar around the inside of the rim. Scrub down the bowl. A vinegar and water solution will also eat away the soap scum and hard water stains on your fixtures and glass shower. A couple of times a year, I clean out my washing machine with vinegar. Pour 1 quart of vinegar in empty machine and run it through a wash cycle.

Fabric softeners or dryer sheets include not-so-snuggly chemicals. These chemicals many times are petroleum-based and have the potential to cause central nervous system disorders, headaches, and loss of muscle coordination; nausea, skin disorders, and allergic reactions. Use vinegar as a natural fabric softener. This can be especially helpful for family members who have sensitive skin. Add ½ cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle in place of a store bought fabric softener.

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8 comments on »

  1. You make mantion that , Vinegar is an all-purpose cleaner as well as a disinfectant and deodorizer. Could you please provide me where you have data to prove that this is true? Sorry it’s that in a restaurant I would want to make sure I can use the same mixture if you claim that this really works? I am not sure onthe deaoderizing part is one thing to make things smell of vinegar but does it really kill air borne bacteria? Thanks and I am looking forward to hearing about your findings.

  2. I did a quick internet search to verify that vinegar kills bacteria, mold and germs. I’m not familiar with restaurant regulations. Before changing what you are presently using, I would check out which procedures are required.

    This is what I found:
    1) Heinz company spokesperson Michael Mullen references numerous studies to show that a straight 5 percent solution of vinegar—the kind you can buy in the supermarket—kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, and 80 percent of germs (viruses). He noted that Heinz can’t claim on their packaging that vinegar is a disinfectant since the company has not registered it as a pesticide with the Environmental Protection Agency. However, it seems to be common knowledge in the industry that vinegar is powerfully antibacterial. Even the CBS news show “48 Hours” had a special years ago with Heloise reporting on tests from The Good Housekeeping Institute that showed this.

    2) Furthermore, Susan Sumner, a food scientist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, worked out the recipe for a sanitizing combo. All you need is three percent hydrogen peroxide, the same strength available at the drug store for gargling or disinfecting wounds, and plain white or apple cider vinegar, and a pair of brand new clean sprayers, like the kind you use to dampen laundry before ironing.
    Spray the hydrogen peroxide and then the vinegar. It doesn’t matter which is sprayed first. The paired sprays work exceptionally well in sanitizing counters and other food preparation surfaces — including wood cutting boards.

    In tests run at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, pairing the two mists killed virtually all Salmonella, Shigella, or E. coli bacteria on heavily contaminated food and surfaces when used in this fashion, making this spray combination more effective at killing these potentially lethal bacteria than chlorine bleach or any commercially available kitchen cleaner.

    The best results came from using one mist right after the other. It was found to be 10 times more effective than using either spray by itself and more effective than mixing the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide in one sprayer.

    Blessings, Nonna Joann

  3. I’m ALL about green cleaning. It started after I read Deirdre Imus’s book Green This! Vol 1: Greening Your Cleaning. The facts I read about the appalling toxic chemicals we keep in our home frightened me. Especially when I got to the part about a study done on the umbilical cords of infants after they were born (I was 6 months pregnant). The cord blood tested positive for 287 out of 413 chemicals, including PFC’s, PBDE’s, lead, mercury, arsenic, chlorinated dioxins, etc. A lot of these chemicals are known to be carcinogenic, and here they are in your baby’s umbilical cord. Flowing through their growing times at such a crucial time of development.

    Besides causing cancer, respiratory problems, etc there’s also detrimental effects on the environment and wildlife. So, they do bad things, they’re not biodegradable, and many aren’t disposable and are stored in fatty tissues to just accumulate more and more. Any idea why so many problems are on the rise? Gee!

    Many people think that chemicals really clean because that’s what has been instilled in us since we were born. I had such a hard time believing distilled white vinegar could do much, but the facts spoke otherwise so I tried it out. For me, vinegar, borax, baking soda, salt, lemon juice, etc work SO much better than chemical cleaners. You can spray or sprinkle and then wipe all that gross stuff right off. And it’s wonderful to be able to clean without having to hold my breath to keep from passing out mid-cleaning. My life changing event has even inspired me to start my own green cleaning business so I can positively influence the lives of others. You should all do what you can to keep yourself, family, friends, pets and planet safe by rethinking what has been conventional for so long. We don’t have a lot of time to dink around, and I have my daughter to think of now so I make no action without knowing the consequence. Whether it’s staying away from #3-7 plastics, recycling, or taking the bus or my bike instead of the car, I’m doing everything I can to protect my family and my planet. Such thought might seem like a pain, but I find it VERY empowering. I have the ability to make a difference, and I sure as hell intend to! Power to you all!

  4. P.S. I have tried MANY recipes for cleaners and there is one which is so effective and so universal I’ve used it on everything from counter tops and tile to carpet. Here it is

    * 2 TB Distilled white vinegar
    * 1 tsp Borax (for greater mold/mildew removal or prevention use 1 TB)
    * 10-15 drops tea tree essential oil
    * 1/4 c Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap
    * Water
    *16 oz spray bottle

    To begin, dissolve the borax in hot water. Combine with the vinegar, oil, and just enough water where the bottle in almost full. You want to add the soap last so it doesn’t foam, and also because when you mix straight soap (a base) with vinegar (an acid) you get chunks instead of a nice solution. From there I just tip the bottle upside down and back up and you’re good to go!

    Tea tree is highly recommended for this because it’s antibacterial, antimicrobial & anti fungal. It helps you eliminate the number of cleaners kept under all the sinks because it’s gentle enough to do a powerful job on simple counters, but it can also kick the crap out of mold and mildew in the bathroom. And if you need an antibacterial solution on hand for the kids it work wonderfully well for that too. I love the smell of tea tree, but not everybody does. If it’s too much for you try essential oil of sandalwood, thyme, eucalyptus, lavender or lemon along with tea tree or in it’s place. These all have amazing cleaning & germ cleaning characteristics, and they’re quite nice on the nose as well.

  5. Oh! Right, the silver cleaning things!

    I’ve tried using ketchup which works nicely. For something with a lot of tarnish use a sheet of aluminum foil, 1 TB salt & 1 TB Baking Soda all in a bowl and diluted with warm water. Let the silver sit in the solution for about an hour and wipe clean. I’ve cleaned some seriously dirty silverware for my mother with this simple trick.

  6. For Ashly Gapen’s “Universal ” borax/vinegar/essenstial oil cleaning solution,:
    Where do you get all of those essential “tea tree, sandalwood, thyme, etc.” oils? They are not the common grocery store staple, and how affordable are these? I’m on a strict shoe-string budget but want my family to be healthy. I’m totally shocked at what I’ve been reading especially the embilical cord toxicity. Your solutions all sounds really great and I’m convinced its the way to go.

    Sally Keen

  7. Sally, I blieve most of these can be purcased at a whole foods store or online. When cost is a factor, use the home-made cleaning solutions mentioned in my blog. Also, 3 percent peroxide you can get for under $1 at any drug store, kills bacteria and fungus and cleans a multitude of things: wooden cutting boards, counter tops, soak toothbrushes, use as a mouthwash and even clean mirrors.

  8. Another great use for vinegar is as a weed/dandelion killer! Just be careful that you don’t get it on plants you like, as it kills pretty much everything. However if you are spot killing in sidewalk cracks and such, I haven’t found really anything better that isn’t full of expensive and possibly harmful junk. I use it in a half and half solution with water and just spray it on. Or if I get a really pesky weed, I will just use it full strength.
    The only problem is that I live along the Oregon coast, where it rains frequently.. it can wash away before it takes effect if I don’t pay attention to the forecast!

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