What's So Great About Homemade Cleansers? - Sweet Potato Chronicles - Sweet Potato Chronicles

What's So Great About Homemade Cleansers?

A friend recently asked me what prod­ucts I use to clean with. She assumed, cor­rectly, that I don't use chemical-based cleansers (see my pre­vi­ous post on What's So Bad About House­hold Cleasers? to under­stand why).  Instead, I fill spray bot­tles (pur­chased at the dol­lar store) with white vine­gar and use them for just about every­thing. But think­ing that wasn't a ter­rif­i­cally detailed answer, I went to eco-expert and eco-advocate Lisa Bor­den of Bor­den Com­mu­ni­ca­tions in Toronto for the full answer.  And let me tell you:  she is one hel­luva per­sua­sive per­son. Lisa knows her busi­ness – Mar­ket­ing and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions – and she pur­sues and pro­motes green liv­ing with the tenac­ity of a mother griz­zly pro­tect­ing her cubs. I went to talk to her about safe house­hold cleansers and left with an arse­nal of ideas for my home.

The best part of mak­ing your own house­hold cleansers? It is absolutely harm­less to you, your chil­dren and the planet, and it is aston­ish­ingly inex­pen­sive. The best part of my con­ver­sa­tion with Lisa Bor­den? She makes it sound so easy. And you know what? It is.

When I asked Lisa what she cleans her house with I expected her to sug­gest a brand of “green”  cleanser, see­ing as there's so many of them out there now. But Bor­den tells me hot water and soap does a great job. That didn't seem, well, com­pli­cated enough, so I pressed on.

HP: What about floors?

LB: Hot water and soap.

HP: What about your oven?

LB:  Hot water and soap.

HP: Okay.  But what about tiles?

LB: Hot water and soap and then you take a cloth and dry the tub or the tiles. Bac­te­ria won’t grow on a dry sur­face. It's sim­ple – keep your sur­faces dry and bac­te­ria won’t grow.

Bor­den also tells me that dirt and bac­te­ria actu­ally clings to the chem­i­cal residue left behind and that the claims made by cleansers to kill 99.9% of bac­te­ria requires strict adher­ence to the direc­tions on the bot­tle which often require steps that most of us don't take — like let­ting it sit for 10 min­utes or apply­ing the prod­uct twice. She also warns against com­pa­nies who claim to be eco-friendly, but are any­thing but.

Bor­den uses hot water and soap, I use vine­gar in a spray bot­tle. But if you want to get fancy, Green Peace has some sug­ges­tions for home­made clean­ing supplies.

Alter­na­tively, Bor­den intro­duced me to a great lit­tle com­pany, Full Cir­cle, that has all the gear to green your clean. I pur­chased the Nat­ural Clean­ing Set prod­uct and it comes with three dif­fer­ent spray bot­tles for dif­fer­ent rooms in the house and a book­let with all the recipes you need to clean every­thing from your oven to your sil­ver to your pet's bed­ding. Fear not, the change is pain­less. In fact, most of the recipes I looked at require ingre­di­ents that are prob­a­bly already in your home.

Another trick to the green clean­ing trade are microfiber cloths. Bor­den rec­om­mends the com­pany E-Cloth (and she's tried them all). E-Cloth has cloths to do spe­cific jobs, one for glass, one for stain­less steel, cloths for the kitchen, cloths for the bath­room… you get the pic­ture. I pur­chased sev­eral and I am a con­vert. Microfiber cloths actu­ally absorbs, lifts and traps dirt and bac­te­ria while your reg­u­lar rags merely push the dirt around.

Here’s are a few exam­ples of  what I’m using now cour­tesy of the Full Cir­cle recipe book to keep your kitchen clean.

Kitchen Degreas­ing Sur­face Spray

Great for the stove top and refrig­er­a­tor (the vine­gar shines and deodor­izes and the soap helps cut the grease).

1 part vine­gar
2 parts water
1 table­spoon of Castile soap
Juice of half a lemon for scent

*Castile soap is made from 100% veg­etable oil. Make sure you pur­chase non-petroleum, pure castile soap. Most gro­cery stores carry it.

Dis­in­fec­tion Sprays

Soap and water will kill almost all germs on your hands (use salt and lemon juice for scrub­bing a cut­ting board). But to thor­oughly dis­in­fect sur­faces, espe­cially after cut­ting raw meat, you may pre­fer some­thing stronger. Hydro­gen per­ox­ide (the 3% solu­tion you find at the drug store) is a great dis­in­fec­tant. And if you want to go fur­ther, spray the sur­face with hydro­gen per­ox­ide, don’t rinse, and fol­low it up with straight vine­gar. This will vir­tu­ally elim­i­nate all sal­mo­nella and E Coli bacteria.

Kitchen Floor Cleaner

I have a wood floor, so I put half a cup of white vine­gar in a bucket of hot water. This also works for tile and linoleum.

One final tip from Bor­den for keep­ing your home clean and toxin free: leave your shoes at the front door. The soles of your shoes are cov­ered in lead, BPA, E– coli, pes­ti­cides and other nasty bits (think pub­lic bath­room floors and gas sta­tions). If you leave the shoes at the door you are reduc­ing the amount of lead and BPA in your home by 70%. How easy is that?


One Comment

  1. jamila says:

    Can one use bonner's castille soap? Say, for exam­ple, the laven­der one? Or would all the extra oils not work for cleaning?

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